Wow. I managed to keep up a blog for an entire year. Being a beginner is fun. People express admiration of my new hobby, although with a sort of look saying that I’m a bit crazy. I’m being adventurous, and I have another topic to talk about at dinner parties. Furthermore, it’s pretty hard to fail at being a beginner. Either you move through the appropriate levels and make progress, or you quit. But neither outcome feels like a failure. [ Don’t worry dear readers, both of you! Quitting is not on the agenda. ]
2009 was an incredible year. Acquiring Stempie, my cello was an adventure in itself. The kind person who passed on the cello to me was glad I was not an axe murderer, and without being too bold I would say I have a new friend. I performed in front of others, namely my class, and put the results up on YouTube. So, there were definite, measurable accomplishments.
Now, what is to be said for year 2? I could call myself an “advancing student”, although perhaps that term should be reserved for those with a bit more artistic sensitivity. If cello were ranked like martial arts, I would without false modesty say that I’ve come out of the bottom kyu ranks. Year 1 started with a challenge, which created the name for this blog. Be the last one standing for practicing a certain number of days in a row, with one break allowed. Lacking such a novelty, I will simply continue to chronicle my progress.
But my point is that a first year is a huge leap because we’re comparing it to zero knowledge. Anything looks good. But what is to come in year 2? Now, as I measure my progress, I realize that gains will not always be large. Life is not always a straight march to progressively greater victories. There are injuries, breaks, and life generally “getting in the way”. Although a good Buddhist will tell you that life cannot get in the way. It is one’s ego that is in the way. Life is here to be a teacher. But I digress.
We’re starting ’10 on an optimistic note. Using some gift money, I picked up the CD for the cello school #3. I started working on the D minor scales and the Lully Gavotte from that book. It was a bit depressing. “What came off my cello sounded nothing like what I thought I remembered, either melodically or lyrically. But a few phrases popped out as recognizable, and that spurred my auditory memory. There are very tricky rhythms for me there, and I anticipate this taking a while.
So, tonight – practice log will say 1 hour, with A major and D minor (natural and harmonic) scales. I worked on the First few pages of Suzuki #3 including the “tonalization” exercise for third position since the Gavotte will be using a bit of that.
In other musical activities, I have been making my way through Schmelling’s Music Theory Workbook on major and minor scales, and it has been less trivial than I thought it would be. I particularly like the exercises where I need to reason my way through the scale starting somewhere in the middle. This is more interesting to me than just knowing “B♭ major has 2 flats at B and E”. Minor scales are the next chapter in this book.
The best part is that it comes with a CD with ear training exercises. I may have to do them with somebody else because they don’t come with answers!