Cello lesson #4

This last week has been crap for cello playing.  I skipped a couple of days because of a raging depression, but got back to it Saturday and have played every day since, including twice today in preparation for my lesson.  It’s just been a week when I haven’t felt like I was doing anything right, bowing or fingering.

Turns out I was doing my fingering wrong!  This makes me happy, because it turns out the right way is much easier.  My first finger was playing flat, which meant I was having to really work to get my fourth finger into the right place.  Teacher put a bit of tape on my fingerboard and it’s so, so much easier to not have to splay my fingers out so far.  I don’t mind that I was doing it wrong, because I’m going to fuck up a lot before I get even mediocre at playing.  I particularly don’t mind because it’s easier now.  I need to build the matching muscle memory now, which will take a while, but I’m happy to be on the right track.

Also, I have been informed that I play too quietly.  I’ve always had problems with timidity when playing instruments, even as a child.  (I used to get yelled at regularly by the middle school band teacher about this.  Lifelong problem.)  I have been instructed to practice playing with confidence.  In other words, fake it until I make it.

This week’s piece is another little folk song, and I’m sure Teacher was secretly amused at the look of horror on my face when she demonstrated the tricky bit.  We played through it a few times after I watched her a lot, and I feel more comfortable with this now that I know I was doing my fingers wrong (which made it nearly impossible to execute the tricky bit), and I’m going to have to practice bunches.  But that first time she played it I was filled with despair.  It only lasted 5 minutes, thankfully.  It became fun after that, instead of OMG FLAIL I’M NEVER GOING TO PLAY THIS RIGHT.

Before we started playing it we looked at the written music and she asked me what key it’s in.  “D,” I said immediately.  Her: “Very good!  How did you know that?”  Me: “Tonic note.”  She rolled her eyes and huffed out a laugh because I’m supposed to be figuring it out by the number of sharps, but c’mon, it was right there.  I’m just pleased that I could read the note without having to remember line names.  Still practicing sight reading without having to think of the line order first.

Anyway, I have a shitload to work on this week.  Yay!  Challenges are nice.

I asked her for some names of good solo cello pieces I can look up on YouTube, just to give myself some aspirations.  “Except for the Bach Suites,” I added.  She replied, “I was going to say those!”  Me: “But everybody knows those!  I need other stuff!”  She also told me she’d adapt any regular songs (off the radio or whatever) for cello for me if I like, in her own time.  Nice of her.  I’ll think of something simple to ask for.  And then try to figure it out myself first, because I like figuring out songs by ear.

Right now I’m listening to Britten’s cello suites, which I discovered on my own.  I’ve never listened to many modern composers.  So very different from my beloved Baroque pieces.  I’m digging this though.  I definitely want to hear more Britten!

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