Sunday, March 26, 2006


Spring encroaches, hesitantly

We found out that our new cat, Shadow, is actually a male! After all the effort - I downloaded lots of photos and descriptions from the internet, and even brought along some of the photos. But with absolutely no experience in gendering a cat, combined with an apparently dishonest owner (who clearly needed to get rid of the litter of kittens) and apparently only minor visible differences in very young kittens, we did not get the female that Y wanted. For myself, I could care less either way. But it sure is embarrasing... The vet says the cat is mostly a Russian Blue with polydactilism (extra toes).

I got a comment today from another cello blogger. He had done a search of blogs to see who posted a lot about cellos. It seems that we two are apparently the only bloggers who post regularly about cellos - a few cellists do apparently have blogs, but they don't really talk much about their music-making. He linked my blog on his blog's sidebar, and I updated my sidebar's link to his blog. Today, he posts an interesting question: "Why Are There So Few Cello Blogs?" It's always been weird that people I don't even know can read my blog, but now that this might also include people I'm electronically acquainted with, it has become even stranger...

After a three week hiatus, I have another cello lesson tomorrow! Yea! Although I've been playing my cello steadily - usually two hours a day - since the last lesson, it's pretty hard to "sense" each incremental change. I'm looking forward to feedback from my teacher, to find out what specific things I can work on, along with suggestions for how to approach them.

Since I've been studying major chord progressions in my self-study theory lessons, I wrote out a few of them (C Major and D Major) as arpeggios including some inversions - using Finale Notepad - to try out. It helps me incorporate the theory of these progressions, as well as doing new fingering drills that combine logically correct and harmonically pleasing notes. And it helps imprint my fingers with their exact locations on the fingerboard. I've been working with Mel Bay's Finger-Fun Exercises - primarily on the A & D Second Finger pages - each line from five to ten times, starting slow and picking up speed. This helps me learn the exact intonations (finding those the ringing sounds), as well as practice sight reading.

Lately I've been wondering if maybe I do have a wolf in my cello after all - between E and F on the D string, just slightly above E - so if I'm the slightest bit sharp on my E intonation, the wolf howls. When I do find the exact E, the cello produces a beautiful, solid tone! Some days, the whole string feels like it's howling, while other days I don't hear one anywhere. It feels like the bow isn't grabbing the string as it should and is "slipping loose" too soon, making a squeak.

Maybe this has to do with what happened to my new rosin? I was storing the rosin in a box under a south-facing window, that gets direct sunlight during the winter, but without much heat. Then, earlier this week we had a brief stretch of clear, warm days with a lot of direct sunlight on these windows - in hindsight, it probably got pretty hot inside that box. Right afterwards, I noticed that the rosin cake seemed to have shrunk - especially around the sides. I'm guessing some of the oil evaporated from the rosin. I stopped storing it there, but I'm afraid the damage is done. The drier rosin seems to make my bow squeak more - especially on the two upper strings, and lately a lot more rosin dust is left on the face of my cello. So I'm not sure if this "wolf" really isn't just the effect of that too-dry rosin. The only way to be sure is to get some new, soft, cello rosin. I'll call Ellen at, tomorrow.

Z has signed up for the school track team this spring. That means we get to drive to town (35 miles RT) every day for a whole month to pick him up after practice! Still, we're happy to see him getting involved. We went to a high school orientation last week. Z signed up for Spanish. He should do quite well in that subject. I'm disappointed that the school continues the practice of allowing the A & B students to skip exams. Many kids will graduate without ever taking an exam! College will be a double shock. It's already a shock enough for any high school kid, but those first exams have to be something! The least the school should do is require the kids to take the exam even if not for credit. Most of them will push themselves to do well. I tried to talk to them about my concerns, but it was clear they all just accept the status quo. I suggested, to no avail, that they survey some of their alumni to see whether it really is a bonus or an unnecessary impediment to their college career.

Hey, I'm a cello-blogger as well! Although I write in Dutch and I also write about a lot of other stuff than cello-related things. And I know of at least one other Dutch blogger who writes the occasional cello post.
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