A Vague Cello Update

I missed a week of orchestra and a cello lesson while I was away, and my lesson this weekend has also been cancelled because my teacher is out of town for her birthday. I have no problem with that; I will just work on my Bach gavotte on my own. I will turn it into a celloy operatic aria, and surprise my teacher when we finally do get together again at the beginning of May. (May! Good grief.)

We had a group lesson on Sunday, where only half the older students could make it (the younger ones have their own group lesson just before we do). It was pretty focused, though, and things are starting to come together. My teacher ended up deciding to transpose the accompaniment for one of the quartet pieces, so I’m transposing it on my own, something I do because I think it will be good for me, but I’m always worried I will make tonnes of mistakes.

This past rehearsal at orchestra we went in early. There is a Beaver colony that meets in the church basement right before we use it, and they arranged for us to do a presentation for them. It was a lot of fun. They had a basic intro before we got there, and a chance to explore the timpani, then they coloured some handouts while we all set up. Our conductor introduced the instruments one by one, having the principal of each section play the first phrase of “Twinkle” so the boys could hear how they sounded different. Then we played the first half of the first movement of the Haydn Symphony 83 that we’d done for the last concert so they could listen for the chicken theme, and after that we played one of our new pieces, Elgar’s Pomp & Circumstance march no. 4. It was very enjoyable; they were bright and responsive. When things were breaking up at the end their leader told us that they were the biggest group in the West Island; other colonies had between five and ten kids, but they had thirty! “I like to think it’s our great programming,” he said.

Then we spent the entire night on the first movement of the Mendelssohn, with a play-through of the second movement at the end. Lots of really hard work. Our conductor assures us that the first movement is the hardest thing in the concert. If pressed to name a favourite symphony of all time, I would have to say it is this one, Mendelssohn’s Reformation symphony, so I am loving every single moment of this. Playing a piece of music in orchestra means I get to break music down and visit it from the inside out, something that adds infinite richness to my enjoyment of the music both on the stand and via a CD player, and I’m so incredibly thrilled to have the opportunity to do that with this piece.

My back was murderously painful, though. Stacking wooden chairs that slant backwards are not optimal for a cello payer to begin with, but my lower back was moderately screwed up thanks to two train rides and a week of sleeping in a bed not my own. I stretched it out as best I could at the break, and ended up on the floor to try to give it some relief. It had gotten steadily worse after I got home; I finally asked HRH to massage it and get rid of the walnut-sized knot on the left side, and that plus some tiger balm seems to have helped a lot. I really, really need to get one of those firm orthopaedic wedge cushions that a couple of the other cellists in the section use.

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