Monday, November 22, 2010

How can I trick myself into practicing the cello?

It seems appropriate to share this article on procrastination in this largely empty blog about learning to play the cello. The article is fascinating, but long, so I'll summarize it for you.

We do not procrastinate because we are bad at managing our time. Rather, we procrastinate because we fail to acknowledge that we are weak and impulsive and do not make allowances for the fact that procrastination is inevitable. So, yes, it is a problem of poor planning, but the same amount (or more) can be accomplished by planning to avoid procrastination as planning to do the things you need to do.

The article talks about services that shut off your internet while at work (and who are these people that don't need the internet to work?) and the Nutrisystem diet in which you choose meals and a meal schedule in advance. It's all about your now-self tricking your future-self into being productive by giving yourself no other choice.

I can think of two ways in which I already employ this tactic of tricking myself into doing stuff in the future while I'm thinking about it in the present:
  • Instead of an alarm clock next to my bed, I use a website to wake myself up in the morning. This requires me to get out of bed to shut off the alarm, and there's no easy way to snooze, so generally I get up and stay up (although in a recent Livejournal entry I talk about how future-Andrew is adapting to this plan, resistance is futile)
  • To ensure I don't leave the house without remembering that thing I'm supposed to bring with me, I hang the object on the front door.
I know myself to be difficult-to-get-out-of-bed-in-the-morning and forgetful, so I plan for these weaknesses. I'm not sure how I can implement this strategy to ensure that I practice the cello. Keep the cello on my bed? Set an audio lock on my computer that only responds to the sound of an A being bowed? Train myself to have an uncontrollable urge to play the cello when I hear a bell ringing?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Cello Practicing Drive

For every $100 donated to the violin repair fund in the month of July, I will spend one hour practicing cello. Please use the "donate" button at right to contribute, and thank you in advance for your donation!

Thank you to Brandon Travan (horn) and Scott Oaks (flute) for buying one hour of practicing each!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Back to I Need Money

Remember that violin I damaged back in April?  Well, originally we thought it was going to cost $2,000 to repair, and I got on this blog and asked you all to contribute.  Then the violin was repaired using epoxy glue, and that only cost $250, which we'd raised from within the orchestra, so I deleted the post.  Now it turns out the repair was a failure, and we're back to needing $2,000.  $2,700, actually.

Please, please donate by clicking on the button below.  Take a look at that number again.


The violinist does not have the money to pay for this repair on his own.  Please think back to a time when you made a mistake that ended up costing a lot of money to fix.  Think about being able to help someone who is in that position now.  I would be so grateful.

If 50 each give $50, we'll be there (I'd pay the rest)!

Thank you.

Monday, May 24, 2010

I think I figured out vibrato

It's a rocking motion, isn't it?  I had been moving my entire hand but what I'm discovering works better is keeping my thumb stationary and rocking the part of my hand over the fingerboard back and forth.  I'm sort of rotating it in an arc, and the center of the circle is my thumb.  It sounds better and feels right.  Cellists, is this correct?

I'm glad I decided to rejoin the orchestra on cello.  I'm not keeping up with the music, but being around other cellists is helping.

I think my cello teacher has gone home to London.

Tonight I played piano at a chamber concert (QUOtets) in an ensemble that also consisted of a violin, viola, bass, and (in one of the two pieces) accordion.  The accordionist, Seth, arranged the accordion piece and composed the other piece, and we rehearsed last night in my apartment.  I had only read each piece through once before we rehearsed, and one of them had a few measures of piano solo which I never quite got right, and stumbled through at the performance.  Despite that, I think we did a decent job with them.

After the concert, an audience member approached me.  He is a professional cellist and is interested in getting involved with QUO, but can't attend Wednesday rehearsals.  Thinking more about myself than the orchestra, I asked him if he teaches private lessons.  He said yes, but awkwardly, since the reason he approached me was to find out how he could help the orchestra, not to get a new student.  In any case, teaching me cello would obliquely help the orchestra, and he seemed amenable to it.  He lives in Astoria, which would be MUCH more convenient, although I wouldn't get to spend time in Sakura Park.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Disregard my last post (which I deleted)

I just heard from the fellow who's violin I damaged, and he said the repair is likely going to cost far less than he was originally quoted.  We don't know for sure, but he asked me to hold off on fundraising for now.  Thank you to everyone who has already generously offered your support!

Friday, May 7, 2010

An Order of Magnitude Higher

Just found out that my blunder last week is quite a bit worse than the college blunder I mentioned at the end of my last post.  About ten times worse.

On another note, a friend's Facebook post about NYSSMA brought back a memory I'll share with you now.  By 11th grade, I'd done NYSSMA on piano twice, but never on violin.  Our orchestra teacher made performing a NYSSMA solo a requirement of the class, and we could choose either to perform our solo for the NYSSMA adjudicators or for the class.  Naturally, most people chose the more intimate audience of an adjudicator.  I have no idea why they're called "adjudicators" and not "judges," but how often does one get to use the word "adjudicator?"

For my solo, I played Vivaldi's Violin Concerto in A minor.  Like many of my classmates, I'd never taken private violin lessons and everything I knew about violin playing came from what I picked up in our bi-daily rehearsals and the occasional monthly group lesson.  Let me branch off and talk about those lessons for a moment.  Lessons took place during another period when you had another class.  The schedule was devised so that no one ever missed the same period twice in one year.  This ended up being a surprise get-out-of-class-free card, however, I rarely went to them.  Lessons, though a reprieve from class, generally weren't much better (enjoyment-wise) than sitting through the class in the first place.  Also, the schedule was so erratic that I never knew they were coming, and often just forgot about them.  I wonder how many other people treated lessons like I did, and whether the orchestra teacher sat in her classroom wondering who was going to actually show up to them.

Anyway, the point of this story is that, as I was waiting for my turn to play my NYSSMA solo, I heard a 4th grade girl practicing the very same piece, and playing it much better than I could.  I never cared about my progress on the violin, so this only made me laugh.  I think my indifference towards the violin is why I still have my violin today.  Had I cared about it, I'm sure I would have thrown it across the room in frustration and broken it a few times.  I cared about the piano, and consequently abused it, but fortunately never did much damage because the piano is a much more hearty instrument than the violin.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Blunt Force Trauma

There were a few new people at rehearsal today.  Well, I think only one of them was actually new, and the others had been to rehearsals when I was absent for one reason or another.  The new new person was a violinist, which everyone was happy about.  We also had a returning violist and a bassist (for the second time ever), which made our string section bigger than it had been in a long while.

As a member of the leadership team, I sat down next to the new violinist at the break and introduced myself.  I then went about my duties as dues wrangler, collecting money from people.  I took the precarious way to the oboes, walking between chairs with violins placed on them.  I got there successfully, but on my way back, disaster struck.  I can't even tell you how I managed to do it, but I walked into one of the violins, snapping the scroll right off and sending it flying to the floor.

I couldn't believe what I saw.  It was like looking at a severed hand.  Then I realized whose violin it was: the new guy's.  On his first day in a new orchestra, some doofus breaks his violin.  He stared agape for a while, and all I could do was stand there and apologize.  People in the vicinity were also staring, but no one said a word.  Rehearsal was starting again, and the conductor asked us to work it out amongst ourselves.  I invited him into the hallway to talk.

The talk went well, and once he got over the initial shock he was very understanding towards me.  I offered to help him pay for the repair (assuming it is reparable, cross your fingers) and to lend him my violin so he has something to practice on (thankfully, I broke an instrument for which I have a spare).  He said he was going to go back to transcribing bowing markings into his music, which meant I hadn't scared him away and he had every intention of continuing to play in the orchestra.  I still felt horrible, and was utterly unable to concentrate on the music for the rest of the rehearsal.

When I got home, I saw that another member of the orchestra had sent an email announcing that he was taking up a collection to offset the cost of repairing the violin, which warmed my heart.  It reminded me of a time in college when I'd made a miscalculation that cost my fraternity a few hundred dollars.  Even though it was my mistake, Brothers pooled their money together and covered the difference.  That's one of the reasons why QUO is so great.