How do you spend your practice time? When I was asked this question, I responded with something that was more like a composite of all my successful practices. It was a rather studied answer, but I finished with a rather unguarded admission. “I finish with a fun song that is easy and not stressful”. He raised his eyebrow as though to say ‘why is any of it stressful?’

Dan’s response was that instead of practicing scales because they are good for technique, which they are no doubt, practice from the moment you start with the goal of making sounds you like. Approach the scales as though they were the “no stress” part of cello playing rather than like a kid facing a plate full of vegetables because they’re good for us. Enjoy playing now, not just for the magical day years from now when you can play “The Suites”.

I had taken seriousness too seriously. His advice was to approach the cello with joy (but that doesn’t mean be sloppy).

As for the lesson summary:

  • Reviewed fingering for third line of Kol Nidre, and changed some things so I could slide to rather than just land on the note.
  • Since I need that third octave C, we are continuing work on 3 octave C major scale.   When moving my arm from 4th position to thumb position on
    G, move my elbow slightly forward without dropping my shoulder into it. I still need to work on staying upright and free.
  • When my thumb is on the neck of the cello, there is considerable mobility remaining in my palm. Feel my breathing through my palm – keep it relaxed and ready for change.
  • Keep my thumb assembly together, but with an open feeling. Do not lock or collapse that second finger.