Tuesday, February 14, 2006


30 Million Dollars - Molly!

I am getting a new cello!

Today, I tried to order a new cello. After studying them, reading all the forums, looking at all the websites, and finally going with my gut, I decided this afternoon to go for the Jay-Haide a l'ancienne, from a luthier in California.

They make four kinds of "a l'ancienne" cellos - Stradivarius, Montagnana, Gofriller, and Ruggieri. The Montagnana and Gofriller are a bit larger. There are a surprising number of posters on the forums who own at least one Jay-Haide a l'ancienne, and have only good things to say about them. A couple of posters especially liked the sound from their Ruggieri (it's supposedly just a little smaller than their standard Strad design.)

So, I first called them at 1:15, but they said everyone was busy and they'd call me back. After waiting more than an hour I called them again and talked to J. He told me about their four styles, and said he didn't think they had any Gofrillers or Montagnanas. I asked some basic questions about the differences between them, and I started to feel like I wasn't really talking to a knowledgeable person. When I asked him to describe the sound from each he told me he had to talk to some guy in the back about it and get back to me.

The sell a fully lined basic vinyl covered plywood case (a Bubelock) that costs about $400 (I think) along with a standard bow. J didn't know about how it would be shipped. Normally, they shipped the cellos out in "shipping container" and then send the case out later after the trial period. I'm going to research cases from other vendors. I'd like a hard ABS case instead of plywood.

To take one on a two-week trial, he said they needed a signed contract with a good-quality copy of both sides of my driver's license. Faxed. I don't have a fax, but asked if they'd would email me a pdf or doc; which I'd print, sign, scan, and email back as a jpg or pdf or whatever they wanted (it turns out that I can fax a scanned document from my desktop). It would be a better quality document than a double-faxed contract. J didn't know if they could do that, imagine! He said he'd have to talk to their accounting people. That he'd get back to me.

Anyway, I ought to be more jazzed, but my excitement has been flattened a bit by this second failure to get a callback. On the assumption that J has really been busy getting everything sorted out and will call me back in the morning with all the information needed to get this done, I'll wait until 10:30 (after I finish playing), before calling one more time - hopefully talking to someone else this time.

Today I worked on the techniques and tips from yesterday's lesson. With some improvements notable. I took a long warmup and then whizzed through most of the pieces up through #12; stopping to work on any areas of weakness. Then I went onto the C string and played #13 "Rigadoon", using the techniques I had layed out last night - tapping the rhythm, bowing the rhythm while saying the notes, then fingering with pizzicato, then all combined. I took time to learn each measure, then each section. I did the same with #14 "Etude", #15 "The Happy Farmer", and even peeked at the first few bars of #17 "Minuet #2" by Bach!! I can't believe I'm going to be learning Bach already! S says she normally skips #16 - also by Bach - until later in Suzuki Volume 2.

It was fun working out these new pieces. I like the challenge and the result. I know I need to be careful not to go too fast. It is necessary to work on endless repetitions - until the reading/memory, the bowing, the fingering, and the emotional intention all merge into one beautiful piece of music. I figure I'll work on these new pieces for quite some time. In the middle of all that, I'll be getting my new cello! That will motivate me to carefully work up through the whole Suzuki book once again, so I can train my new cello.

I firmly believe that the wood in a good cello learns how to vibrate as it is played. This makes the cello take on the musical personality of its musician. How and how often it's played affects how it sounds. So, first I want to teach it what little I've already learned in my brief 3 months of playing. Then we can start learning how to make beautiful music together.

I also worked on my four independent pieces - trying many of them in different keys including the second C octave (starting at G+4). That's been an interesting challenge, since I've only been playing them in the basic open string keys of D major, G major, and C major, which all use the same finger locations on strings. The second C major scale uses completely different fingerings.

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