Saturday, January 07, 2006


A great night with my cello, Ellwood

What fun tonite! I played two hours, no lights, no books. I worked on my bowing. I worked hard on my bowing. I was able to let loose of my right arm, and it took off on its own, playing very intricate rhythms, on different strings, at different speeds. Playing very fast, I'd twitch the bow up to a higher string on every 4th note (or 3rd note or 6th note), depending on the beat I was using. I used a circular stroke with the bow, I used a slow-start-fast-finish stroke with the bow, I used long swaying strokes, I used short rapid-fire strokes. I was surprised how many different "feelings" I was getting out of the cello. New sounds triggered new rhythms. After a while I began fingering the upper string, using the lower one as a drone. Then, every once in a while, I'd drop a finger on the lower string for few measures, and then drift back to where I had started. While keeping up the manic bowing and still using a drone string, I began playing scales. Then I switched to chords.

After two hours, I was exhausted and had to force myself to stop.

Right now I'm listening to Apocalyptica's self-titled album, which came in the mail today from Amazon. I've been immersed all day in cello music, I've listened to Apocalyptica' Reflections several times - I really like "Faraway", "Cortege" and "Epilogue". I also listened to a couple Rasputina albums. They're a bit different, but I like them. I looked for Bond's Classified album at Fred Meyer today (I'd seen one copy a couple weeks ago) but it was gone - it makes me feel good there are other enthusiasts.

For a while, all this talent began to make me feel pretty inadequate. I only recently realized that it was exactly that defeatist attitude that kept me from picking up the cello all these years. Now I know I don't have to be great - obviously, I'll never be great, I'd be happy to be just adequate.

The cello chose me a long time ago, and finally, I have to deal with it. I know that playing every day,without fail for as long as I can, will pay off. If I keep it up, I'll be playing sweet music in no time.

Still, in the forums the kids talk about 3rd and 5th position, and the thumb position and vibrato; I'm a little intimidated because I still can't get my little finger to regularly stretch far enough in 1st position. But then I remember that every one of them had to learn the same thing I'm having to learn, and at some point got past it. I will eventually get past those same challenges, and appreciate not only the result but the satisfaction of achieving something.

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