Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Time does not fly when you're playing the cello (Practice Session 4)

I think the hardest thing about practicing a new instrument is to keep going when you sound HORRIBLE.  Tonight, I sounded horrible for about a half hour straight before I decided to stop and blog about it.

My cello is still being a little bitch about tuning.  I had to retune each string at least five times before I could even begin playing it.  Each string got at least another two retunings once I started on scales, and the D string is still giving me trouble.  All that retuning has made me paranoid when I'm playing up the scale and I arrive at a new string that sounds nothing like I expect it to.  I stop my scale and bow the open strings only to discover that the instrument is in tune, and I'm just fingering the note miles away from where I'm supposed to.

This frustration feels very familiar.  I alluded to it in my first post.  I just can't stand the sound of me playing an instrument poorly.  It bugs me even more than learning the piano because you can generally expect the right sound to come out of any of those 88 keys any time you play them.  You can even SIT on the piano and you know you'll at least hear a nice, pan-diatonic mush, if you just sit on the white keys, that is (which I suppose requires a small butt).

Tonight, I trudged through a few scales, followed by a scale in thirds to spice things up a little.  Then I listened to myself play the first piece in the first cello Suzuki book, "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star Variations," and, unable to bear sounding like a six-year-old, I moved on to the second piece: "French Folk Song."  I played that a few times and then I began to improvise when I decided I needed a break.  So did Penelope (the cat featured in the masthead photo of this blog), whom I did not realize was in my room until I heard her clawing at my bedroom door to get out.  I don't blame you, Kitty.

I'm going to return to practicing now, because if I don't, I know I'll be glued to the TV for the rest of the evening.

1 comment:

  1. Have you tried peg dope? It's a chalk-like substance that can help your pegs stop from slipping and help keep them in tune in rehearsal. I imagine Sam Ash or other music stores would carry it. Another trick is to use a graphite pencil and mark on the pegs very lightly (where they stick in the neck) and that helps reduce peg slippage, and ultimately helps the instrument keep its tune. It does take a while on a new instrument to fix.

    My reccomendation for now: pre-tune in advance, (ie. arrive early if possible) and if need be when we actually tune, or need a retune, poke Michael and he can do it quickly for you.