Thursday, February 22, 2007



It's so easy to get off track during the day. Why is it that I seem to need a daily routine, a pattern to follow? Maybe it's a manifestation of my latent OCD.

So, I'm in this daily routine that I guess I follow more out of habit than necessity. A coping mechanism, I suppose, to deal with the stifling winters. The only scheduled things that I have to deal with are my (week)daily trudge on the treadmill from 5:30 to 6:00, getting Z off to school at 6:30, and being around when Z returns from school at 3:30. I also spend 2 to 3 hours each morning playing my cello. The rest of my day is more or less optional - sort of. For the last four or five months, I've spent a couple hours a day doing a little con$ulting work. The rest of my time dissipates into various household chores and web surfing. Lately, that means reading and commenting on way too many blogs, editing my own, monitoring the CelloChat and the CelloHeaven forums, and (less often lately) surfing some of the online news - for whatever reason, the news isn't as interesting to me as it used to be. Burnout, I guess.

Yet, the day time quickly passes. Before I know it, the back door slams open and the dog comes tearing across the room heading for her pillow after sitting out at the top of the drive all afternoon waiting for Z to get home. The cat, who waits by the door for the dog to come in, flies along right behind her trying to grab onto an ear or a leg. Then they wrestle briefly (the cat attacks, the dog suffers patiently), before they return to napping. After dinner, the evenings pass rapidly with homework support, some TV, and blogging.

Another facet of my routine-OCD is that if I don't get started on my cello by 8:00 am at the latest, I can't seem to get going smoothly. It's all in my head, I think, but nothing seems to click. My fingers just don't seem to want to cooperate; they miss lots of notes. The last two days, for a bunch of reasons, I didn't get started playing until much later - almost 10:00 today, and it just didn't work. Finally, my brain sizzles, and frustrated, I put it away after just an hour. Yet on weekends, I can start much later and do fine. It seems to be a only weekday thing.

Recently I've read some discussions in a few blogs and the forums about cello students and memorizing. Of course playing from memory is ultimately a good thing, but for some reason as a beginner I feel guilty about it. I've always had a good memory; in fact when I was a wage-slave, it was a useful asset. With music, I usually have a new piece committed to memory long before I can play it halfway decently. The problem is, once it's memorized, I have trouble watching the music anymore while I play. I see the notes in my head. Not exactly what's on the page, but something a little more complex. My mental picture of each measure includes the actual staff and notes, along with the "feel" of the fingering and bowings (lately my bowing image has started to include a sense of the dynamics). But why do I feel guilty about it? Last week, I tried starting some of my older pieces at random measures, playing 5 or 7 in a row, and then quickly switching to somewhere else in the piece. That has forced me to start watching the music again and think about the relationships between the measures as I play.

On a general level, though I feel deadlocked. One day's cello practice seems the same (or even worse) than the day before. I haven't felt as if I'd made any progress for some time now. I know that this sort of blockage usually precedes a breakthrough... Looking back through my blog archives, I've started to notice a pattern, here. It seems to come at the same point in each new piece. I know the notes, now. I know the fingering. I have the rhythms. I've played all the tricky passages over and over. Yet it isn't all coming together yet. It all feels disorganized, still (and sounds pretty lousy). I know from past experience I'll get past this and it will come together; so, I'm waiting...

Hey G!

Thanks for the comment :) It's nice to hear from someone new!

As for practicing cello, what I have experienced is often there are these moments of frustration but you just gotta hack away at this obstacle. In the end, you'll find you really really improved A LOT. Of course, you have to make sure the basics are there.

Please allow me to go off tangent... Would you care to participate in a little project of mine? Details in the following URL:
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