Friday, May 11, 2007


Another Milestone

Yesterday, almost exactly one year after starting Suzuki Book 2, my teacher opened Suzuki Book 3 (!) and we talked about the first three pieces, and some of the scales and position drills at the back of the book; and third position, fourth position, half position, harmonics, minor scales, alternate fingerings! Lots of new things to start learning! I'll be starting out on most of this by myself, but she encouraged me to email her if I had any questions. She also cautioned me to take it slowly and patiently. In fact, I'm not to work on the fingerings of these three pieces until I have their rhythms solidly in my head. I'll have to listen to the CD, a lot. Then, and only then start working on the fingerings - pizzicato - until that's done. Finally, the bow.

When I first opened Book 2, I figured I should be able to breeze through it in no time at all - six or seven months, maybe. Back then, I was pretty optimistic about my capacity to learn this thing. I was in such a hurry. Then, at some point, I wised up. I realized that I had a LOT to learn, and there was no way I could fake it. Each piece in the Suzuki process is designed to teach me something, and it is important to master each new technique before trying to push on. Trying to play beyond my capabilities would only bring frustration. So, I completely stopped worrying about how far I was advancing in the book, and I just worked diligently on each piece in front of me, trusting my teacher to guide me. I assumed she wouldn't move me on to the next level until I was ready.

I'm way too close to my daily practicing to be able to "measure" my progress. Maybe I should have recorded myself; maybe I should be doing so now.... Clearly my teacher, hearing me play only twice a month, has been able to monitor my progress. By no means am I finished with Book 2; I've still got hours and hours of practice, slowly picking up the tempo, working on the now all-too-familiar tough segments. I still work in Book 1 every day, and in Mooney's Position Pieces.

This was my last lesson (#31) until late July. We're leaving in two weeks on an extended driving trip down the West Coast - stopping to see our older sons (and our grandchildren) in Seattle and San Francisco and then on down to San Diego. After that, who knows? We haven't yet made any firm plans beyond those first two stops.

I'll be bringing my Yamaha cello. It will be hard to leave my acoustic behind, but... I'm worried about it drying out and cracking. After talking with several people, I've decided to store it in its case in my bedroom closet (on the coolest corner of the house) with a 5 gallon bucket of water. I'm also bringing the small amp, and I really want to try to set aside enough time to practice, although there will be lots of competing distractions...

I am looking forward to your blogging whilst on the move. It will require self-discipline and love of the cello to keep practising, but I think you have those in abundance! Happy holiday!
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