Archive for February, 2009

Cello Lesson Recap (from 2/13)

Posted in cello on February 22, 2009 by cellomuser

“L” and I had a lesson back on 2/13. It was our first lesson since mid-November of 2008. After the holidays, my practice routine stopped – not completely – but enough to where I felt I was not making improvements.

I often try to find analogies to explain what learning and playing the cello is like. The most recent one that came to mind is how a computer operates. A computer is comprised of hardware, an operating system and software applications. When we click on an icon or instruct the computer to do something, it often appears that the computer quickly performs what we told it to do.

However, anyone with a computer or information technology background knows that how a computer operates is not as simple as clicking a button. A computer is executing thousands of instruction per seconds – continuously monitoring for inputs and delivering on its output commitments.

Playing the cello is not that much different. Even though you do not have to do thousand of things – what seems like all at the same time – there is the concept of constant checking of things you need to be doing while you are playing.

1.    Am I holding my bow the right way?
2.    Is my bow positioned correctly?
3.    Am I applying enough pressure to the string with the bow?
4.    Am I tense?
5.    Is my left hand curved?
6.    Is my tone OK?
7.    and the list goes on
8.    and on
9.    and on…

This cyclical mental checklist should not be considered a bad thing – it is a reality.

Up until 2/13 – I apparently was under the impression that I did not have to apply to much pressure to the strings with the bow. I know I have been told to do so – but for whatever reason(s) – I have not been doing so. So, that is something I am working on in the two weeks between lessons.

A few other notes from my lesson:

1.    More shifting exercises; primarily focused on 4th position.
2.    Shape of my left hand, ensuring my thumb is not too tense and that I do not apply too much pressure to the neck of the cello.

“L” recommended that we start playing more together as part of our lesson. We are starting with the book titled “Chamber Music for Two String Instruments” (Book 2) by Samuel Applebaum. L’s book probably dates back to when she was in 5th or 6th grade. The pieces are primarily different types of dances and are not overly difficult. I think I have mentioned to both L and on the blog before that I enjoy playing with another person – so I am glad she is willing to incorporate this as part of her teaching me.

That is it for now – I am off to go practice for an hour or so.

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