Saturday, March 13, 2010

Like a Virgin: My First Cello Lesson

Eight months after buying myself a cello, I finally had my first ever legitimate cello lesson today (legitimate meaning I paid for it).  At first, we set the time of the lesson at 4pm, but as it became clear that was absolutely not going to happen, I emailed her and asked to do it later.  We agreed on 5:30, and I got in my car at 4:45.  It didn't hit me that 4:45pm is a terrible time to be on the RFK Bridge until I was already on it.  125th Street was also a miserable trek and I really thought I wasn't going to make it by 5:30 after I asked her to switch the time TO 5:30.  Miraculously, I found a parking spot right around the corner from her building at 5:29.

Ayanna is a student at Manhattan School of Music.  There are practice rooms in the same building as the residence hall, which I thought was very neat.  It was my first time in a practice room since 2002.

I neglected to do any preparation for the lesson, which meant my cello was in no condition to be played when we took it out of the case.  The bridge was in another time zone, so Ayanna spent a few minutes getting my cello into playing condition and tuning it.  Unfortunately, once she'd gotten the thing tuned, there was a buzzing sound from the G string (laugh, get it out of your system).  After loosening the pegs, moving the bridge, and retuning a few times, there was nothing we could do to get rid of the buzz, and then something started rattling.  We decided my cello was just having fun with us at this point, gave up for the time being, and I practiced on her cello for the duration of the lesson.

Ayanna was very sweet.  It was totally on me that we had to waste the first 15 minutes of the lesson fixing my cello.  She even offered to go later so I'd still get my hour of lesson time with her.  I spent a total of 90 minutes with her and she only charged me for an hour.

She watched me play a C scale and offered pointers on how to hold the bow and how to position my left hand, some of which I heard before and some of which I hadn't.  She had no comment on the position of the cello on my body, which means I retained something from last year!  After that, we opened the Suzuki book and I sightread Rigadoon, an easy piece on the top two strings.  After playing it through alone a few times and with her a few times, she on-the-spot composed a piano accompaniment and we played it together on the two instruments.  Playing it with the piano made me feel like a cellist for the first time.

My assignments for our next lesson (3/30) are Rigadoon, a Bach minuet (also in the Suzuki book), the A minor melodic scale, and something else from my book of Klengel exercises. 

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