Since my last lesson at the end of April, I’d focused on learning the last two parts of the Vivaldi Sonata in Book 5, and I was hoping I could play them at Monday’s lesson without messing up. Although that didn’t happen I was pretty satisfied with how well it went. First though, we talked about my ongoing left thumb pain and possible causes. My teacher suggested a few changes to my left hand and thumb posture, including raising my left elbow more when playing on the C and G strings and altering my first finger extensions. These already seem to be helping.
After a half hour or so on those two sections we turned to the next piece in Book 5, “Danse Rustique” by William Henry Squire. It’s a fast light piece; the rhythms aren’t too complicated, but there are several shifts up to A and Bb. I’m sure glad I’ve been working on my Bb scales this past year. I began working on the opening section - pizzicato at 80 bpm (per eighth) - playing it over and over, steadily increasing the metronome step by step up to 120.
I’ve been surprised all week at how quickly I’m picking this up. Then I slowed the metronome back to 80 and started over again using the bow. At the same time I moved to the next segment (which opens with several interesting measures played with a D-string drone). After four sessions, I’m already bowing the first 28 measures at 92 bpm.
Have I mentioned before how much I enjoy learning a new piece from scratch? How each phrase comes together, and how it then fits in with the one before it and the next one? I appreciate how important this first step is - if I take it slowly and carefully, spending lots of extra time on those tricky parts now, here at the beginning, I’m sure that I’ll have a whole lot less trouble with them later on.
Every once in a while I get an anonymous comment, most likely from fellow cellists who happen to stumble across this blog, referencing my attempt to record my cello journey here. I forget sometimes why I started writing this in the first place. I do remember being overwhelmed at how hard it sometimes felt, how slowly I thought I was progressing, always doubting my ability to stick with it long enough to ever really “get” it. But today, more than four and a half years later, as I was playing through the first section of the Squire piece, I realized how far I really have come. Not that I actually see a light at the end of the tunnel, but maybe I’m sensing a dim glow up ahead there, somewhere.