Monday, March 06, 2006


Another good day with my new cello,

but then any day is a good day, when I play my cello...

I played for 2-1/2 hours in two sessions this morning, over in my bedroom. I'm not sure whether I like playing there or the living room better. It is different, with different sounds. Over there, it sounds bigger, somehow. With the door closed I'm more or less cut off from the rest of the house, and I feel less inhibited about playing a lot louder.

I did all sorts of warmups bowing double notes, scales, intervals, and then I moved through the first 3/4 of the book, playing most of the pieces in three keys. I'm getting the intonations better and better. Now I'm working on how they sound, trying to use cleaner bowings.

After a break I went back and worked on the last four pieces. I started each one out very, very slowly until I could play through it cleanly. Then, and only then did I pick up the pace a bit. I'm focusing now on the Minuet #2, doing it a little differently this time. I played the A parts slowly and picked up the pace some for the easier B and C parts. Then I started working on the second half, just playing it slowly - trying to imprint the new fingering and rhythm on my muscles. One part requires extending the fourth finger up one semitone to G#. The first finger stays on E (rolling a bit to its side), while the third moves to G and the second up to F# - the thumb moves with the second finger. I worked on just trying to find the new position using my third finger on G as a marker. This is going to take some work.. I still have a long way to go on the whole piece, but maybe by my next class - in 3 weeks - I'll be able to play it through for S.

I seem to be developing the bad habit of not reading along in the score as I play. Not only does this make me get lost more often - usually on the newer pieces - although I am memorizing it better; but I am actually more concerned that I am failing to properly develop and coordinate my music reading skills as I advance in the type of music I am playing. I've read about concerns that Suzuki students are not able to read music very well - this may be why. And yet, it gets harder to look at the music when you know it so well after playing it over and over again. Hmm, maybe this is a good topic for Cellists by Night...

I called my strings salesman, J, and thanked him and everyone else at Ifshin Violins of Berkeley for my new cello. I told him that it had arrived frozen after bouncing around all day in the back of the UPS delivery truck at -20F. Also, I told him that before opening the box and taking it out of the case, I let it thaw slowly for several hours - doing what little I could at that point to stop it from cracking due to a sudden temperature change.

I told him my teacher was quite impressed with its appearance as well as its sound. I told him I was very happy with its sound and with its feel and that I am looking forward to making beautiful music with it. I told him I am keeping it. He said he'd pass my comments along to the luthier, Haide Lin.

I then said that I was surprised that the upgraded bow I had ordered the previous Friday wasn't included; instead I got the original bow. J put that other guy on the line, and he apologized and promised to send out the new one today, and that I could return the other one in the same case.

Cello Chat has been having a discussion about rosin types, where several people commented they had switched from a rosin for violins to a rosin for cellos. Ifshin included cello rosin with the cello, but I hadn't tried it yet. I will tomorrow...

I plowed the driveway today, yesterday's snow was wet but it cleaned up quite easily. The longer days and brighter sun melted a lot of this latest snow off the roof and deck, but I still had to shovel around the cars. Spring is still five weeks off...

I agree. Any day is a good day when I get to play the uke. I should be cleaning up the house or doing something useful, but I get lost in the music for hours. I love it. :)
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