#1 was what I learned, #4 was humor.
What I have learned so far
One theme that keeps popping up is keeping my upper body light while being rooted to the ground. The other is that the secret sauce is in the right hand, not the left. Still coordination is important.
Most of what I think I learned in the first two years is basically what the different notes feel like – learning to feel the string and not just pull my bow through insensitively.
The other critical thing I’ve learned is that I can develop a good ear, and that I’m not musically impaired. With guidance, I can learn to trust my musical sense and pitch memory.
As for humor: My first day Dan walks me through the cello and I (silently) realize with horror that he’s NEVER going to put ANY reference tape on the fingerboard. Turned out to be good for my intonation, though.
But my funniest moments of all focused my initial attempts to tune the beast. It requires experience to do well, and yet it is the first thing a beginner must learn to do, and alone. Even if somebody tunes it for me, by the time I get it home, it’s slipped. So, I’m sitting in my room on a cold, dry, Philadelphia winter day. Those aren’t the easiest days to tune a cello.
When I get the A down, I start working on the D, but then the A goes out of tune. Remember, at this point, I have no idea of what a good fifth should even sound like. I’m just using the tuning meter. Then I get to the G and the A and D slip a bit.
I was back and forth to Harold (the luthier from whom I rented my first cello – http://www.goldenviolins.com) twice in the first week. The first was for a broken string. Finally, hoping not to have me at his doorstep every morning, he advised me to just be happy if it’s in relative tune so long as I’m not more than 1/4 step off.