In case you were wondering what I’ve been up to these days – the title of this post says it all.
I mean, really, what else is there?
Well for starters we had our first orchestra rehearsal of the Spring term last Thursday.
Our next performance is at the end of March. The theme of the concert is Space and the Planets and my little geek heart is barely able to contain itself with joy. Until the sheet music started appearing on my stand and I was reminded of a few of my favorite quotes: “Miles to go before I sleep.” And “So near, and yet so far.” and “Almost only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.” As I trundled through pages of new sheet music and tried to figure out where the hell my F sharp had wandered off to for two hours.
The good news is we have a lot of really interesting prospects. Listed here in order of my own increasing personal preference :
4. Blue Danube (2001: A Space Oddessey) Okay so I’m not a huge fan, but who doesn’t recognize this one?
3. Theme from New Moon – And yes, that is the TWILIGHT movie. The response to my inquiry as to how this wound up on the list: “It had moon in the title.” I asked if anyone was aware that this was from a movie about vampires and werewolves and not, in fact, little green men. (In it’s defense, it’s actually a fun piece to play and pretty dramatic. So I’ve made peace with it by giving it a new name: “Sparkly Vampires in Space” )
2. Moon Waltz (Albert Wang) which is even more fun to play than New Moon…and also has “moon” in the title
1. Noche de las Estrellas (Starry Night or Night of the Stars) by Caponegro – has a lovely latin vibe
AND MY ABSOLUTE “over the moon” favorite:
A medley from BSG (Battlestar Galactica, for the uninitiated in the room) which includes the Passacagalia and The Shape of Things to Come.
There’s a similar medley online here if you’re curious.
This makes the whole thing worthwhile. I’d love to add the theme from Cocoon and/or Total Recall to the mix, but I don’t want to push my luck. I’m calling it the international space station set and so far, I like it. Plus, getting to play BSG is sort of like a dream that I never knew I had come true.
Yes, I AM that much of a geek.
And see, all that BSG watching wasn’t JUST about the abs. It’s EAR TRAINING.
So technically I’ve been “off” my cello for a couple of months aside from sub-regular recreational sessions. In preparation for orchestra rehearsal I did reboot my practice schedule time, but it was abundantly clear that I have a lot of shaping up to do before the performance. Thankfully, I’m no longer the only cello, so at least there’s no pressure of being in the the first and only cello chair.
Now I just don’t want to let down my section.
I have a LOT of work to do on tone, so for the near future I’ve upped my scale work and listening exercises. Our arrangement of Danube has a sh*t ton of A string E’s and F’s which I would like to play – as opposed to dropping an octave “to get by” – so I’m determined to be able to nail those shifts consistently.
I’ve broken out my tape and redone my fingerboard for extensions and shifting. This time I’m also color coding – green for natural, red for sharps, black for flats. Why? The advantage of being an adult is that I know my learning style and I’m a visual learner.
Playing in the mirror has always been super helpful. With color coded tape I can watch myself hit the right notes, which speeds up my muscle memory for finding them and reinforcing my ear’s recognition. At least that’s the theory and I have had some luck with this strategy in the past. We’ll see where I’m at when the tape comes off.
It’s also been helpful to sing/speak the note as I play – but that’s another trick entirely and helps mostly with sight reading.
So that’s the update. Rehearsal is tomorrow so I’d better wrap this up and get back to business (aka practice) and on to the next episode. Here’s hoping I don’t wind up like these two: