Lesson Notes: Weight vs Pressure

First lesson of my second year of cello (although I didn’t start playing formally until September and I did take a couple of months “off” from lessons this spring…eh, who’s being particular?)

I had some really bad news on a personal front today that almost put the kibosh on my lessons – I just wasn’t sure I was able to get into the headspace for cello – but surprisingly, once we started to play I really did just lose myself in the instrument. For an hour, at least, the world was reduced to myself, my teacher and my strings. Playing proved soothing – something relatively under my control in all the madness of the world – and gave me some thing to look forward too.

On to the lesson: today was bowhand day. We spent a lot of work on my bowhand as you can see from the photos. (Just ignore the crappy nails – I’m a few days past due on my manicure)

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Bowhold has been one of those things that I’ve struggled with on my own (watching youTube and reading blogs will only get you so far) and is one of those areas where good instruction and feedback is priceless. It will also keep the bad habits at bay.

Needless to say bad habits were creeping in during my solitary months. One of the key issues we worked on was using the weight of my hand on the bow via gravity instead of putting pressure on the bow. It’s a deceptively simple concept, as I learned when I found out just how hard it was to do the former after I’d spent so much time doing the latter.

I had a great lightbulb moment when I actually felt the weight traveling through my arm onto the bow via my index finger while my whole hand stayed relatively relaxed. At the same time, the sound coming from the strings actually improved. O Come Little Children (or the “wah, wah” song as I call it) has never sounded so good. Of course the lightbulb went off the next minute and I was back in the dark, sawing away, but now I know how it felt (very important) and how it looks and I can begin to incorporate it into my practice.

One thing is for sure, I have got to figure out a way to warmup before my lesson. Playing cold just wastes so much time in the first 15 minutes or so. Unfortunately I’m coming directly from work. Since there’s no lesson before me for the next few weeks I’ll be able to use the lesson space, but eventually I may have to shift my time so that I have a chance to get home and at least go through the music before class. Or I’ll just warm up in the parking lot before leaving work. That will give the rest of the building a kick, no?


About Eddie

Watch what happens when you give a writer a cello.
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