Still trudging through Popper #19. I've been working on this etude for a couple of weeks now. Spiccato definitely adds to the difficulty. I started learning this etude the same way I've been attacking the other Popper etudes - learning the notes slowly and then incrementally building up the speed. After a week, I started reading a blog of a cellist's study with the Popper etude (http://celloetudes.tumblr.com) and decided to change my approach a little bit. Mainly, I decided that I was going to memorize the etude. It's been very enlightening to add memorization to my etude study. Here are the things I noticed:
1) Firstly, I memorize music pretty easily. I've been working on the Brahms E minor sonata and I pretty much have all three movements memorized. Not intentionally but it just gets in my ear and not before long, it is memorized. However, the Popper etude has been a pain! I'm about 3/4 of the way through the etude and I have it in my memory but it's pretty shaky.
2) Making myself memorize it changed my approach to learning the etude. I was forced to learn the 'road map' of the etude rather than just read the notes. The surprising thing is that this is a quicker way to really learn it. Having the pattern in my memory took away the extra step of reading the notes and then getting my hand in the position to play them. This makes the speed of this etude a lot more doable.
3) I made a lot more marks on these two pages than any of the other etudes. This was because I was making notes to myself of the patterns so that I could remember them. With the other etudes, I just read it. This time, I circled the patterns to give myself variously landmarks so that it helped me know what came next.
I'm almost done learning the whole thing. I've been playing it at a slower tempo- about 72 for the quarter note. By the end of this weekend, I hope to have the whole thing memorized and playing it at 84 or so.