June 28, 2010

Cello Update

Another quick cello update. I have now been playing cello since last September. I started playing with the cello, I say "with the cello" because that is pretty much all I did for an entire month. I strummed it like a guitar, practiced bowing with open strings, and generally tried to figure out how to hold the cello (harder than it looks) so it wouldn't slip on me. I took a short break in October-November, and then after Thanksgiving, picked the cello back up and decided to really attempt to learn to play it.

I spent most of December trying to play Christmas carols with my son's chamber group. Oh my, what a joke that was! Actually, I was told I did pretty well, considering I couldn't play the cello nor had I ever played with a group before. I was downcast and a bit disappointed in my overall progress, but decided that I liked the cello enough to want to really learn to play it.

In January, my son's teacher (piano - though she teaches violin, viola and guitar as well) offered to give me some pointer lessons. I took her up, thinking it would only be a month or so before I was working full-time. She graciously taught me theory and even some singing to help me understand music. I thank her every day because she gave me a wonderful gift of music knowledge and I have become quite good on the cello due to her gentle guidance.

It has been almost six months since I started my lessons with her and I am about half way through Suzuki Cello Book 3. I breezed through Book 2, but Book 3 has had some really difficult pieces in it. Many contain sections of long runs, and though my fingers are getting faster, I still cannot play them and remain in the rhythm of the piece. I am getting better, though, and think that by the end of the summer, I will be able to play almost all of these selections well.

Last night, as I practiced for this week's lesson and chamber group, all I could think of is how much I enjoy the cello, and how well I am doing. I truly am amazed that I am able to even attempt to play pieces from Book 3 (a third year student book). These pieces are challenging for me, but they are tough enough to really make my brain work, yet enjoyable enough to keep me working at them. A good combination for me -- because I love challenge and overcoming difficult obstacles.

My goal is to play well, really well, and to understand music to such an extent that I could comfortably play in a chamber group or ensemble (like the orchestra at church). I would love to be able to play for weddings and receptions too. I want to go as far as I can on the cello, and to be able to sustain my playing level for the rest of my life. My teacher has told me that often with students like me (and my son), we tend to lose our ability to perform at a level if we don't keep it up. It has to do with the quickness of our arrival, and our ability to technically perform to a certain level. Traditional students may take 3-5 years to get to the same point, and we tend to get there in a year or two. There is much to be gained through slow progression (strength training, discipline of the mind and body, etc.) I plan on sticking with the cello because I love it, and it brings me such great pleasure. I hope to play the cello until the day I die (Lord willing).

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