Wednesday, November 28, 2007


Today is Cellomania's Second Blogoversary

Two years ago today, after picking up a rental cello in Anchorage I sat down and tentatively scratched out those first few "sounds" - far from pleasant, but promising enough to convince me to keep trying. Today, I'm practicing/playing about 20 hours a week. Lately, I've been working on Beethoven's Minuet in G, with lots of shifts and slurs - even into 5th position. Today at lesson #42 I began working on Bach's Gavotte in C Minor. It looks like it might be a little easier than the Minuet... I'm playing two-octave scales of C, D, F, G, and A majors; and D and C minors; and one-octave scales of Bb and Eb majors. I'm working on one-string, one-octave scales of C, G, D, and A. Also, I'm playing in a string orchestra and a cello trio.

I've finally found a string combination that I like (Jargar silvers on C and G, and Larsens on A and D). My wolf seems to have stabilized somewhat - I haven't had to adjust my wolf-eliminator for a few weeks now (prior to that I was fiddling with it daily) - either that or I've finally found an optimum location for it. I have a wonderful new bow that draws a smooth clean sound from the strings.

I'm not unhappy anymore with the sound from my cello. Of course there's a long way to go, but I feel - finally - as if I've made a good start. I still obsess too much over intonation but I'm hearing progress in my sounds from the upper positions. My ears tell me when I've missed a note, even by just a fraction.

I've adopted a process for learning new pieces that seems to be working - slow and steady - lots of repetitions on tricky passages. Interestingly, it's helping me pick up new pieces faster. I've usually memorized a piece way ahead of being able to play through it smoothly. I've finally begun counting in my head (especially in some of those orchestra pieces where the cello has a bunch of rests, or weird rhythms). I force myself to use that $#2*^%@ metronome almost all the time, and it helps.

For a few years, I had considered joining the world of blogging, but I didn't really have a theme or a focus - until that day I brought home the cello, and I decided to blog about my musical journey with my cello. The first hundred days saw 100 blog entries. But, then I ran out of topics and decided to slack off a little and aim for two or three posts per week. This is post #361. As I write this, my blog has had 21,315 hits (since April 2006). Most of those are probably google-bots doing their routine data gathering scans, but a few hits have come in from time to time from rather interesting sources.

About six months ago, in a fit of nostalgia, I wrote a couple entries (here and here) trying to describe what blogging means to me. That hasn't changed. Since then our list of blogging cellists has grown from 116 to 179. Way too many of them are inactive - and I've decided to prune those blogs that haven't been active in the past four (or maybe six) months. Cellobloggers has 80 members, even if it is rather quiet. The CelloHeaven forum has almost 500 members, now, and thankfully has been free of spam and porn attacks for more than a year (even though it, too, is somewhat inactive).

My Google Reader picks up feeds from all those cello blogs and about half of their comments, along with a couple dozen other music blogs - a total of 334 feeds, which produce an average of 110 entries per day. I just skim over several of these, but others I read with great interest.

I don't feel very profound, anymore. I used to believe I had something important to say. A lot of blogs I read are so fascinating because of all the interesting things the author is doing every day. Others seem to come up with curious topics. Several others are just so well written that I find myself reading through them twice just to enjoy the way the words are put together.

As for my cello, I've thought up some goals for Year 3 (and beyond), which are listed here in no specific order:

learn vibrato
finish Suzuki Book 3
improve bow hold
relax bowing arm
improve sight-reading skills
improve intonation
develop an awareness and control of breathing
start playing in the "upper" positions
learn thumb position
tenor clef
experiment more with the electronic cello

Playing Music
practice 1,000 hours in Year #3 (ever closer towards that 10,000-hour goal)
continued growth with the Central Peninsula Youth and Community (strings) Orchestra
continued growth with Cellocracy
join the Redoubt Chamber Orchestra (eventually)
join the Kenai Peninsula Orchestra (some day)

(Also, my granddaughter is 5 years old today.)

Congratulations! And keep up with the good work on the cello!
Congratulations on the double anniversary! You've obviously come a long way in those two years.

Defining goals can really help a lot. That's something I miss about no longer having a teacher. My goals tend to be things like "play this particular challenging sequence" and "practice more", the former coming with rehearsal and the latter being too vague to really help me actually work through the not-enough-time issue.

Here's to many more happy years of Cellomania, both the music and the blogging!
Wonderful, wonderful post, Guanaco! Congratulations on your blog anniversary and all of your accomplishments. Your achievements and goals are inspiring.

You most certainly do have something important to say. Your insights have been inspiring and motivating me ever since I "discovered" your blog. I'm sure many others feel the same way.
Congrats on a fantastic 2 years of moving and shaking and inspiring the blogging and adult cello world! Wishing you many more.
Congratulations on your cello and blogging anniversary and best wishes to your granddaughter!

I am so impressed with and inspired by your dedication to both cello and blogging, and I thank you for rounding up the cello bloggers, which makes both the blogging and the celloing more enjoyable.
Congratulations!! I enjoy reading your posts...keep it up!
Just found an anniversary present for you:
Not only a guinea pig fancier, but another blogging cellist as well!

Thanks, Maricello!
Two years goes by so fast - but look how much you've accomplished.
Congratulations - nice to look back and reflect on all that you've accomplished. Quite often it doesn't feel like you're making progress from day to day, but when you take the time to look back over a longer period, wow! Here's to your next year of making music!
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