A little over two weeks ago I moved from my familial home in West Seattle to my own one bedroom apartment in the city. In the midst of packing, loading unloading and unpacking that was the first week of my move, Cecelia was a little bit neglected. I’m one of those neurotics who just can’t relax until ALL the boxes are unpacked. Although, I am getting a little bit better about that: at the end of the week I piled everything remaining into two 7 gallon plastic tubs marked “RANDOM” and stacked in them in the closet so I would no longer spend every spare waking moment at home sifting through the leftover detritus that just doesn’t seem to go anywhere but can’t possibly be parted with. I figure if I haven’t missed anything in those tubs in a month they can safely go to goodwill, whatever they contain.
So far, all I seem to be missing is one of my Seychilles “button top” heels. At this point, my desire to play Cinderella hasn’t overcome my aversion to digging through those boxes, so they remain closeted.
I also missed the lesson that week because a dear friend and writing buddy was having an author’s reading at the UW. If you are a writer or know a writer you understand what a huge deal this is. Since I hadn’t practiced much that week anyway I canceled my lesson and went to listen, with sublime pleasure, to one of my favorite authors. (P.S. If you’re into fantasy/sci-fi and you haven’t read a Cat Rambo story, you are really missing out. Yes, that is her real name. Her latest collection of short stories is really delightful. But I’m biased)
To make up for my week of cello delinquency, I spent the following week practicing 40 minutes to an hour every night. Ok, let’s be honest: 5 of the 7. Frankly, I don’t recommend taking random weeks away when you’re learning an instrument, but I don’t think it really did me too much harm. I may not have improved much that week, but everything I learned thus far hadn’t all evaporated. If anything, it might have helped me to gel some of my previous instruction a bit. I felt as though some of the work on bowing less in my shoulder came more naturally to me after a break, partly because I was able to refresh my more recent muscle memory (the class we spent working on proper arm technique) rather than having to overcome so much of the old “Jolly Roger” style arm swinging that prompted the bowing technique lecture in the first place. Make sense?
This week’s lesson we focused more on the G Major scale, specifically the A-string transitions (D-E-F-G). I’m having a really hard time getting from E to D, which I’m assured is just going to take practice, practice, practice. Hmmm, sounds familiar. Kaia also introduced the Galamian Scales which seem like a whole new really exciting challenge (although I guess some don’t see it that way). That brings up another thing I really appreciate about Kaia’s teaching style, she seems to really enjoy supplying me with a host of new exercises and challenges. It’s nice when practicing to have so many different exercises to choose from, and though they all involved the scales to some degree, they’re unique enough to keep me interested. Rather than just fixating on one until I get it just right, I get a new one every week to add to the repertoire. Of course, I fell like then it’s my responsibility to bring back to her any issues I’m having with specific exercises beyond the time we spend reviewing at the beginning of class.
Other cello news: in a week, Kaia is hosting a cello recital/master class for her students. Apparently we all get a piece to play for each other (friends and family are welcome to attend) and then we’ll spend some time sight reading music together. My piece is going to be Lightly Row, and my challenge is to get it smooth at 100bpm for the recital. Just the thought of playing for anyone besides Kaia, O, or my very patient neighbors makes me my palms a little sweaty. But I have a week and a half, including another lesson, to perfect what amounts to 45 seconds of music. Plus, the whole point of learning to play, to an extent, is so that I can play IN FRONT OF PEOPLE. I’m bound to make a few mistakes or two so might as well get some of the first performance jitters out of the way while I’m still a beginner and expected to make a lot of mistakes.
Last night I got it up to about 75bpm playing smoothly all the way through and as quick as 80 with a few minor flubs in the F# to open A transition. (For some reason that section is my nemisis! My brain just doesn’t like skipping G apparently)
I plan on giving it at least another 20 minutes tonight plus scales. I’m up to slurring 3 notes in the Galamian scales, but considering the goal is to get in 24 notes in a single bow stroke, I have a long way to go.
And that’s the recap!