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!