Archive for March, 2008

Measure 38: Muscle Relaxation and more about Bach

Posted in Uncategorized on March 12, 2008 by cellomuser

It seems like the “cello blogsphere” has been somewhat quiet the last week or so.

This past Tuesday I left work at exactly 4:00 to get home in time to practice the cello for an hour or so. I stopped by Starbucks to get a large coffee – which was free because I had to wait a few minutes for it to brew – …my afternoon was off to a great start. For the last few months I have wanted to use Emily Wright’s warm-up routine. I am usually rushing around so when I find a few minutes here and there to play (at least during the week) – I am frazzled and probably in the midst of a Starbucks caffeine high.

Emily’s warm-up routine begins with some muscle relaxation exercises that I found to be very effective. However, it was the breathing portion of this exercise that really made an impression with me. I guess I am one of these types that does not breathe normal while I am playing. I have experienced tension while I am playing but have never really thought too much about it. I hope to incorporate forced breathing into my warm-up scale routines and be aware of it while I am playing. So, thank you Emily for bringing awareness to this.

In my “measure 36” post, I talked about a book I recently purchased and have began reading titled “Dance and the Music of J.S. Bach”. Thus far I am pretty impressed with this book. I like how the authors have started the book by establishing historical and cultural context in the time of Bach. Bach grew up in a Germany that was just coming out of a 30 year war and of which there was significant infusion of French culture and customs. One of these customs was the French style of dancing. Music was written to directly compliment certain styles of dance. It is reasonable to assume that Bach was heavily influenced and his music is a reflection of that.

I will offer more details in the coming weeks and/or months; especially when I get into the music types themselves (minuets, gavottes, etc…). I think I will be successful in better approaching some of the Suzuki’s pieces as a result of this book, learning something in the process, and sharing the information here on the blog and with my cello instructor – a win-win-win.

Finally, I had a last minute practice this past Tuesday with a few folks from church that are in the “praise / worship band”. They asked me to play an accompanying cello part for an Easter-related song they are performing this Sunday upcoming; two instruments (acoustic guitar, cello) and two female vocals. It is a very “pretty” song called “At the foot of the Cross”. My part is relatively simple and if I were more skilled I could probably play a tougher part that a violin would typically play. Regardless, it’s another opportunity to perform and enjoy something that brings so much pleasure.


Measure 37: My Cello Instructor….

Posted in Uncategorized on March 5, 2008 by cellomuser

In “measure 36” I mentioned that my cello instructor was out sick for a week. One of her relatives contacted me late last week to let me know that L was really sick and had been in ICU for almost a week. I won’t list all the issues but I guess she was pretty fortunate in that had her friends not convinced her to go to the hospital – this would be a different kind of post. There is no doubt that L is a special person especially after seeing the outpouring of support, concern, and well wishes she has received from her family, her OSU friends, friends from where she grew up in IOWA, my previous cello instructor, and some of us current cello students that call her our instructor. Even though I am 14 years older then L – its an odd feeling to have a respect and in this case compassion for someone I do not really know that well. I think this is how student / teacher, mentor / mentoree, responsible adult / eager child, and quite a few more human relationships should be like.

When you really think about it, how often do you really completely humble yourself in front of your spouse, child, or other people that you have a deep relationship with – let alone a shallow relationship with- and take a chance to show your weaknesses or vulnerabilities? My cello nightmare is going to a cello lesson and flat out sucking. Yet, I choose to continue to go. Sometimes, the lessons go great and there is a sigh of relief. Other times, it just sucks and its embarrassing – to the point you wonder if your teacher talks about how bad you did to other instructors, friends, or whomever – maybe not by name but because of what you did wrong or continue to do wrong consistently. But more then likely, he or she does not do this- and in this case, I do not think L would such a thing – which is one of the reasons I really enjoy learning from her.

Anyways – I was able to talk to L earlier this week over the phone while she was still in the hospital. She sounded great given the circumstances. It will probably be a month or two before we start back up. In the mean time, I have enough cello stuff on my plate to keep me busy. I am also very interested right now on microphones to be used with a cello for various types of performances where sound is going through a mixing board.