This Week in Cello-land: Recap

Phew, almost Friday again! Big happenings this week: orchestra rehearsal round 2, my first lesson in months, and a new job!

Shall we begin?

Confession: I am more of a perfectionist than I would like to admit. Ditto to being type ‘A.’ So when someone hands me an entire stack of music and says “see you at rehearsal next week,” I tack on “get this all down by then, ok?” Result? I spent much of the week making myself insane practicing six pieces. Okay at least not at once. I got the Tres Gymnopedies out of the way quick – although my initial overachieving tendencies drove me to want to play the first part, I still had enough sanity left to focus on the second cello. It’s mostly long sustained notes; a good place to work on tone, and when that fails put all that vibrato I’ve been using to practice. Heehee. What really stumped me was the pizzacato in “Ferdinand and Miranda” (deceptively simple, i tell you) and the repeat in Rondeau.

I have discovered my beloved Cecelia (CC’s new nickname: “Cheap Cello”) newest weakness. My strings are so close to the fingerboard (even after the bridge fiasco) that when i pluck the C if i don’t hit it just right it buzzes and chatters. It appears yet another bridge adjustment is in order. Boo.

So it was an up and down practice week. I felt like I would make progress on a piece, then put down the cello, come back in a half hour and find I was worse than when I started. Or I would switch pieces after an hour and feel like I had forgotten how to read music. And the damn pizz! oye vey. 86 BPM is not THAT FAST. Only you would have thought I had never plucked a string. By Monday night I took turns being grumpy, despondent and annoyed.

Usually, I just stew but this time I went out on a limb and (gasp) shared what I was going through with TBF who took me by the shoulders and gave me a good verbal “shake.” In summary: cello is supposed to be fun, orchestra is supposed to be fun. Do it because you want to, and you enjoy it. If not, don’t.

It sounds like an odd pep talk, but he knows me better than anyone else. Sometimes I get so intense I take all the joy out of whatever it is I’m so intently focused on, even if it gave me trills of delight to begin with. I went back to my chair, picked up my cello and decided to just focus on one of the two (Miranda) and not worry about the rest.

Sure enough, Tuesday night we (string section) had our first opportunity to practice with the other members of the band that also make up the orchestra. And we spent all two hours on Gymnopedies. Which I had nailed. I was even able to help the other celli with vibrato. Sweet. Which gives me another whole week to obsess over Rondeau, Miranda and the rest of the gaggle.

Just kidding. I’ve learned my lesson about obsessing…

Not really.


Of course, Monday’s little meltdown also made it clear to me that I need a lesson badly. I dropped out around the time I went to CA to take care of my parental unit for a couple of weeks, and a tight budget has kept me lesson-less since then. But I got some good news this week – I got another contract and will be starting work again on Monday. Fab. So I loosened the purse strings and called up Kaia.

Which is how I happened to be back in my favorite chair warming up with my super cool cello teacher. It was hard not to spend the whole hour gabbing, but we managed to get in some good practice. She confirmed my fears that CC was due for a trip in to the luthier for the buzzing strings trick but reassured me that for a student cello, her tone is good and with a little adjusting she will be more than adequate for the time being. My Rigadoon work has paid off, I’m officially moving on to bigger and better things (cough, cough): Etude and a new Shreoder piece. I’m also adding a new F Major scale (con arpeggio and chords) and the cello goddess helped me with orchestra fingerings before sending me on my way.

We also had an interesting philosophical discussion of CC’s new nickname. I haven’t always gotten the best reception from some of the local luthiers when I bring in my internet special cello, and she echoed that there’s a big pooh pooh of in the teaching world for these instruments. While I totally get that on one hand, I also realize that if not for this entry level cello I might never have realized a dream by letting price point be a barrier to my attempt to learn. I’m sure you can make an argument for renting, but there’s a sense of ownership of and possession of my skills in this (albeit, small) investment. Neither TBF or I knew a thing about cellos when CC came into our lives, but what CC has taught us about instrument quality has been invaluable – and relatively inexpensive.

I’m doggedly determined to stand by my CC. She’s no Strad, but she opened a world to me that I previously – and perhaps foolishly – assumed was out of reach. For that, I am eternally grateful for this cheapo cello.


I start a new contract on Monday! I’m super excited to be working again, and while I will miss my morning yoga classes, long cello afternoons (with Hulu breaks), and plenty of writing putz time while I wait for TBF to get home, it will be good to be getting a paycheck again. And no worries: I won’t forget about you, how could I?

Still a few things to get done:
1. Get my website up once and for all – no point in paying for a domain if I’m just going to let it collect cobwebs.
2. Finish the short story I’ve been (cough cough) working on for my writing groups Anthology Challenge.
3. Get my orchestra uniform sorted – first performance April 2nd!

At my orientation today my recruiter commented that I had so many “balls in the air” I had no time for a full time job. “Yes,” I agreed. “Unless of course you know anyone looking to hire a cello playing writer with great balance and the ability to put her toes on the back of her head.”

She suggested Cirque du Soleil.



About Eddie

Watch what happens when you give a writer a cello.
This entry was posted in Lessons, Life and other such oddities, Orchestra, Practice and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to This Week in Cello-land: Recap

  1. Yee says:

    Here’s a link I read before about how you can fix your bridge without having to cut a new bridge…

    My teacher/luthier cut my bridge low for easier fingering, but the C string buzzes now during the winter because the belly drops due to the coldness (lowering the string height). But she’s one who believes in 2 bridges – a winter one and summer one. So next winter, I’ll probably have her cut me a winter one…

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