Friday, October 29, 2010

Listening to a Recording

I had my son record our chamber music so that I could put it on my IPod. WOW! What a great idea! I have had some issues with timing so now I can listen to the music and practice along with it BEFORE we actually go to chamber each Friday. I am so blessed to have such a phenomenal musician in my family (who can not only play but record MP3s for me).

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Update on Cello

I have had a breakthrough of sorts. I have been struggling to find my fit with cello. I am not sure why this happened, how all of a sudden, I just stopped being able to play the cello well -- but it happened. I have been trying to figure it out, almost to the point of tears, when suddenly it dawned on me. I have been trying to do something with the cello that I simply was not really wanting to do. Let me explain...I started cello study about one year ago (in November). At that time, I simply wanted to learn how to play the cello. I didn't think I would ever be able to play as part of a group. In January, I began lessons, and I quickly got up to speed where I could play some beginning/intermediate pieces. This summer I started playing as part of a trio, and I found out that I love chamber. Then this fall, my teacher asked me to come to chamber with her other violin students (5-6 year students). I have struggled to hold my own since then, and as we get closer to recital, I am becoming more and more a mess. Nothing seems to be going right for me, so I decided to take a little break and think things through a bit.


Yes, I had an epiphany. I came to terms with my cello playing and I finally accepted what it is that I really want to do with the cello. On Sunday, I attended our traditional service so that I could work at Macy's at 11. Our traditional service normally has two violins, the band, and choir. This time, the bassist played acoustic bass, and with the violins, I just knew that this is what I wanted to do. I love playing chamber music, and I love the idea of playing worship music. I have been pushing myself to get through the Suzuki books, and frankly, they are boring to me. I love classical music, don't get me wrong, but I am not interested in becoming a Yo Yo Ma. At one time, that is what I wanted to be -- a professional cellist. Now, though, I am really content just to play for the enjoyment of making beautiful music. I love the cello, and I want to play violin too. I want to play for the Lord, for His Glory, and to make beautiful music with other musicians.

Now that I have that out of the way, I realize that I need to find some other cello books to work through instead of moving into Suzuki Book 4. I love some of the sections in this book, so I will probably continue to work on the ones I like best; but I really enjoy more strings music, and so I am going to look for Book 3/4 of strings group music to see if I can find pieces that I would enjoy more than solo work.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Rethinking Cello

It has been a couple weeks since I really pushed hard on the cello. I have been practicing daily, and I am seeing good progress. I have decided to make a change to my cello goals. First off, my initial goal was to play well enough so that I could perform in chamber group or at church. Then, I actually thought that I would like to play well enough to play professionally (in trio for weddings or other events). Now, though, I have decided that I want to pursue the cello simply because I love this instrument. I am no longer going to push myself to achieve a goal that would required significant practice and a dedicated study schedule. Partly this is due to the fact that I am already on a goal/path for graduate study. I am getting my MA in English Literature so that I can teach college level composition courses. Upon completion in May 2012, I plan to enroll at ASU to finish a PhD in English (Rhetoric, Composition and Linquistics). This degree will require about 4 years of additional study, but will enable me to teach at a University. This goal along with my full-time work needs top priority. I cannot do more than what I am able to do, so my desire for cello, which is still strong and important to me, will now become a passionate endeavor based solely on pleasing the One who is the Author of all Music.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Good Progress

I have spent the past couple days working on my technique, and I think I see good progress. One thing I am doing is reminding myself that I can play the cello. I know -- that seems silly, but really it is just a mindset thing. Whenever I get into this funk that says "you cannot do it," then really I cannot do anything cello-wise. If I give myself some kudos, then I feel more empowered and I find that I actually sound pretty good.

Yesterday, I played through Suzuki Book 2 again. I am amazed at how much better I can play these pieces. In fact, my work in chamber has made it possible for me to play these pieces really well. Sure, I am familiar with them -- but really, they are challenging nonetheless. And, as I struggle through Book 3, it helps me to remember that I can indeed play the cello well enough to be in this book.

I think I have finally passed Gavotte in C Minor, and I can almost play Allegro Moderato from start to finish (on my own -- not even with any teacher help yet). The Minuet is easy for me, because it is also in Book 2 (but with a second part -- new and more challenging). The two pieces I cannot play yet are Humoresque and La Cinquantaine. I love the latter, and think I actually will be able to play it. Humoresque is another thing all together -- and I don't know if that is something I will play now or have to come back around to later on. My concern is this -- if I can finish these two pieces, then I am ready for Book 4. I have heard that Book 4 is really challenging -- and I don't know if I have the technique to play it yet.

On another front -- I finally can play Allegro by Joseph Henry Fiocco and Concerto Grosso by Vivaldi. My teacher changed my part on the latter piece, and it is a bit more difficult for me now. However, I can play it (hooray) and can say that it is absolutely beautiful in chamber (with piano and five violins and cello).

I am really pleased with my performance ability -- now I just need to relax when I play in group. Oh...that and make sure to bow a bit more pressure (on my new bow), and I am set.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Cello Update

Struggling with doubt and fear of failure - UGH! I have decided that it is two things: new strings and a new bow. I think my confidence went out the door with these changes to my cello. I didn't think it would that big a deal, just a better sound and ease of playing -- but I was wrong. I am struggling to play well, and I don't like it. Also, I am not practicing as much as I should -- thanks to working PT at Macy's. Sigh!

On a higher note (hee hee) -- my teacher and I practiced with the piano and violin yesterday so that I could get a better feel for my chamber pieces. These are difficult ones she made for me, and I can play them, but the timing is more advanced, and I am either too fast or too slow. More work, more practice and I can play them, I know it.