Daily Archives: October 23, 2008

Life Is Good

Today is a beautiful, sunny, crisp fall day, and I had my first private cello lesson in ten years.

We addressed lots of things, which didn’t feel overwhelming at the time but as I’m processing it I’m thinking that wow, yes, it was a lot. Ringing tones, intonation and tonalization, bow grip, leading with the elbow (which is completely at odds with how I was originally taught, which was to lead from the wrist, but I can see how leading with the elbow opens the body up and can produce a more beautiful and precise sound, and she says she was first taught the wrist way as well so at least I’m in good company), exercises for the bow grip and how it’s supposed to pivot around the thumb as the bow moves from frog to tip and back, shifting exercises from first to second position… yes, it’s a lot. But these things all came up as we worked through a Schumann chorale piece, playing slow, long notes to really hear what was happening. I spent a lot of the lesson with my eyes closed or staring off at nothing while I tried to listen to the sound I was making and feel the way my hands and arms had begin repositioned so that I could do it again on my own. I felt muscles in my right arm that I didn’t know were used while bowing. I just hope I can remember how it feels.

She asked about what books and exercises I had, what I’d played before, and what I was interested in playing. I didn’t think at first to list the things I wanted to work on, but I didn’t need to because most of them came up in the course of the lesson! Ultimately what I’m looking for is how to better create a beautiful sound, something large and rich and, well, beautiful. So we’re going to go back to some of my first pieces and work on those, focusing on intonation and lovely sound, and start looking at the Rick Mooney books I bought this summer to help shifting and position work.

I am so happy to be doing something about this. And it’s affordable, and enjoyable, and good for me.

I realized at the end of the lesson that I’d spent an awful lot of the last fourteen years trying not to make a big sound, thanks to the scarring experience of having seniors banging on my floors and ceilings when I tried to practise at the very beginning. The Resident Fan Club will be happy to know that from now on I am not allowed to use a practise mute, nor pull the power I’m trying to channel through the bow. My teacher’s main room is tiled with lovely earth-toned ceramic tile and has a grand piano in it, so the sound echoes beautifully and it’s really easy to hear sympathetic strings vibrating when you play a ringing tone.

In other cello-related news, I have a lead on a semi-soft cello case that is exactly the one I loved so much that came with the Eastman 7/8 I tried this summer! The person selling it on Kijiji is being slow about returning my e-mails though, and I don’t want to lose this the way I’ve lost the last six tries to buy a secondhand iBook. I’m now waiting to hear when she can meet me so I can see/buy it. And last night’s orchestra rehearsal was very good too; we’re sounding a lot more precise and there are actual dynamics happening. We spend the first ten minutes doing exercises with a scale related to a piece we’re working on, using different bow techniques and strokes and so forth. The guest conductor is tailoring these exercises to something we’ll encounter in the music we’re working on that night. Very clever; keeps it all fresh in the mind. And as for the music, the Wagner’s off the programme and a Vivaldi concerto grosso is on.

Of course the postperson came while I was gone, so I missed a package. But there were cheques for work done waiting for me when I got home! I also did some banking, stopped by the library to pick up a reserve and found two other new acquisitions that I wanted to read as well, I put gas in the car, and did a small grocery pickup. My cello lessons are right by Fairview, and as I pulled away from my teacher’s house I thought, Is there anything I need at Fairview? Nah, and kept going… only to realize on the highway halfway home that yes, I had indeed needed to pick up something very specific at Fairview, and that I was an idiot because I even had it written on a list of things to do… that was safely inside my pocket where I couldn’t see it. Argh. Looks like I’m going to need an agenda again, something more portable than my lovely but big Daytimer binder I used to use when I was working outside the home. Maybe I’ll treat myself to a trip to the office supply shop on the way to collect the boy, to see what they have.

In the meantime, I am brining chicken. I am tempted to get some Brie and mushrooms so I can make those delicious chicken pastry things again, but HRH is leaving early tonight so I don’t think we’ll have time for that. The chicken will be just as lovely on its own.