Thursday, June 26, 2008



A dizzying two weeks of intense effort (that shifted into hyperdrive these last three days) on two major projects has left me frazzled and frankly pretty numb. But with the delivery of the final box of reports this afternoon, I am now free!

Tomorrow I go back to regular cello practice. I sure need it.

My few feeble attempts this past week left me feeling as if I've regressed six months or more. For quite some time I've been feeling as if I'm up against a wall. My teacher suggested we hold off moving into Book 4 for now and spend some time working on a few issues - including presentation. I have to agree. I've been having trouble playing through entire pieces without stopping to correct errors. Usually they're the same old stumbles, but lately, errors have started popping up in the strangest places. My teacher says I should play on through these errors and just keep on going. But the OCD in me wants to get it right. Besides, if I mess up a note or a fingering then my bowing gets out of sequence and at that point it's all over.

I've overcome this problem for the most part in orchestra, because they keep on playing with or without me (and I can't hear my intonation that well), so I've learned how to jump back in after a stumble. Besides, most of our orchestra pieces are fairly simple.

I suspect I'll never be very good at improvisation. Apparently, I'm driven to (try to) play whatever piece - accurately and precisely.

I realize, as I'm writing here, that I've lost my focus again. Rather than simply enjoy playing, I'm obsessing about not being able to play better. I have to figure out how to get off this improvement treadmill for a while and take pleasure in just playing music.

Z told me that his teacher briefly played some bagpipes today after their guitar lesson! (He was surprised at how loud it sounded.) I've always liked bagpipes, and I'm hoping to get a chance to persuade him to play a bit after Z's next lesson.

Playing chamber music helps, too.

Playing run-throughs of your pieces with a recording is also an excellent way to practice "going on," and experiencing the piece as a whole. There are ensemble arrangements for Suzuki books 1-3. Invest in those, program the accompaniment parts into your notation program of choice, and voila, instant practice partners.

Yes, this does count as review time, and the best thing is that none of your "partners" makes mistakes, so it's all up to you to keep going. Occasionally just dial the tempo up and go along for the ride!
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