Friday, July 9, 2010

Goals for 2010

Now that I feel more confident in my playing ability, I am focusing on setting some goals down for the remainder of 2010. July is a good time to do this, since we are half way through the year. My overall goal is to be accomplished, and by that I mean to be able to play proficiently.

n. Proficient well advanced in an art, occupation, or branch of knowledge

adj. Proficiently

Synonyms proficient, adept, skilled, skillful, expert mean having great knowledge and experience in a trade or profession. Proficient implies a thorough competence derived from training and practice . Adept implies special aptitude as well as proficiency . Skilled stresses mastery of technique . skillful implies individual dexterity in execution or performance . Expert implies extraordinary proficiency and often connotes knowledge as well as technical skill . (See for more information)

With this goal in mind, I have decided to chart out my path to "accomplished." I already know that to be accomplished, I must gain a thorough competence through training (lessons) and practice. I am already doing this with my cello teacher, and spending up to one hour each day in practice. I am involved in a beginning ensemble group, which has helped improved my playing and my timing immensely. By all accounts, I am well on my way to achieving my goal. But, with any good goal, you need achievable touchstones or milestones so that you can look backwards and see where you have been and forwards to see where you are headed. Therefore, this is my list of things "to do" so I can reach my goal of being accomplished on cello.

Milestone: Move from advanced beginner to intermediate cellist
  1. Progress slowly and carefully through each Suzuki Book (for music selection)
  2. Continue to play ensemble music
  3. Practice one hour or more per day
  4. Work through both theory and method books
  5. Drill on Foundational Studies
  6. Stress bowing technique (advanced)
  7. Continue to work on finger placement and learning all positions
  8. Practice vibrato

Suzuki Books

I am currently working through Book 3, but have taken the summer to drop back into Book 2. In doing so, I have found it easier to play these pieces, and am stressing performance. My teacher and I are focusing on phrasing, bowing technique, and expression. I am about half-way through Book 3, and at the point where the next grouping of pieces become much harder for me to play. Taking the time now, to work on technique, should make it easier for me to progress through the rest of this book with good success.

Ensemble Play

I am currently working through Strictly Strings Book 2 with another violinist and our teacher. This book is quite challenging to play well. I can now hold my own part along with a violin/guitar or two violins or violin/piano. Once we complete this book, we will move into Book 3 (perhaps?)

In addition to classical music, we are also playing Fiddle music as a group. We are almost through the Basic Fiddler's Philharmonic book. I need to begin Fiddler's Philharmonic soon (and the Encore book). Fiddle music has improved my playing the most, by far, and it is incredibly fun to do.


I am doing well on practice, trying not to miss more than one day at a time. I need to make sure I practice earlier in the day (now while I am not working). It is easier to get the time in and then I can spend my evenings free. Once I am working, and school begins for me, I will have to practice at night.

Theory and Method Books

I am in Book 2 of the Carl Schroder method. Book 1 went very well, and was enjoyable for me. Book 2 is so advanced, so I have taken a break from it. I will begin it again soon, and think that I can handle it now.

Foundational Studies

I am working through Book 1 of 170 Foundational Studies and have hit a road block. I think it is simply my technique, so I have taken a short break from these etudes to work on Suzuki Book 2. I will pick this study up again, and think (as with the Method book above) I can move through it now that I have some better technique.

Bowing and Finger Placement

My teacher has suggested some exercises to help with finger placement (my thumb) as well as more advanced bowing. I will begin bowing practice today, and will continue to pay attention to my thumb in various positions. Bowing technique improves the overall quality of your music, so it is well worth the time to practice these exercises (I can tell the difference now between bowing like a beginner, and a more advanced student -- oh, the piece just sounds so much better!)


I have studied vibrato (with video) for a while now. I am still not very comfortable doing it, so my goal will be to begin more serious concentration in the fall. Most of my books do not stress it, but I believe you are expected to use it in Suzuki Book 4.

There you have it -- my to-do list for cello. I love this instrument, and am finding the entire learning process enjoyable. I am finally seeing progress -- really progress (as in playing better), and it is so encouraging to me. I am willing to give the time to this instrument, and know that I will achieve my goal (some day!)

1 comment:

paul said...

Wow. I appreciate not only your commitment to learning the instrument but also your clear writing and logical thinking. I'm an adult beginner and have just completed my second year of lessons. My teacher is principal in the local symphony and chamber orchestra (and good at working with youngsters too). We work with Klengel and Popper books and he lets me choose pieces (excerpts) to learn.