The Terrible Twos (1563 Hours) – Video Update.


It’s hard to believe that this month marks TWO YEARS of playing the cello, and yet somehow the more I play, the more I feel like a beginner. Perhaps that is why I haven’t been able to post much of anything useful lately, because I am starting to get to the point where I realize the extent of how much I don’t yet know! During the last few months of my lapse in posting, I have been working hard on some fairly technical pieces: Two movements from the first Bach cello suite, Tchaikovsky’s Chanson Triste, Saint-Saen’s The Swan, and Faure’s Bercuese Op 16. I have also been drafting a few somewhat technical posts that I’ve been trying to condense into their most digestible and useful elements regarding the known science on bow technique and the mechanics of string vibration on the cello – this one will take a while longer to complete because the physics is heady stuff indeed. I also have another post in the works where I’m attempting to refine the essence of what I’ve learned over the last two years with my four stringed companion into a list of practice focal points, so look for a post in the next week or so on that topic.

As for now, after reviewing my blog and deciding what needed the most attention I noticed how shamefully anemic the video section has become. This is mostly because I am loathe to post anything before I feel like it’s spent a sufficient amount of time in the oven. The pieces I am currently working on will likely take years to become proficient at playing, but after a few months of living under that shadow, I realized that my perfectionism was undermining the point of this blog: which was supposed to be a transparent investigation of the process of learning cello as an adult. As a compromise, I resolved to post a progress report video of the “easiest” piece that I am working on at the moment, the Bach Cello Suite Minuets I & II. Just trying to play through the repeats of this 4+ minute song with a blinking red record button is an taxing exercise in focusing, so I am beginning to see why the strain of recording an entire Suite would be a true mental and physical endurance test. However, what is probably one of the more frustrating aspects of recording is knowing how much better you can sound when you are relaxed and no is listening! Yet, as an aspiring performer there is no escaping that facet of musicianship. I have spent enough time as a musical hermit, and I have resolved that I will share what ever I can as freely as I am able.

Please feel free to share any comments, insights or tips. My ego isn’t nearly as important to me as learning new things!

Bach Cello Suite no 1, Minuets 1 & 2:


2 Cellos Ride The Delorean (1373 Hours)

If you haven’t heard of these two rock star cellists from eastern europe, then you are in for a treat.  If you are already a fan, then stop what ever you’re doing and watch this video immediately.  Warning:  side effects may include increased heart rate, mild headbanging, tousled hair, and spontaneous combustion.

Christmas Recital (1216 Hours)

Happy Holidays everyone!   Thought I’d post my progress here with a recording of the piece I played at a winter recital last weekend.  It’s a duet that I performed with my teacher by Charles de Beriot, a little known composer and violinist who was influential during the Romantic Era.   The piece is very slow and with wide dynamic ranges and is more than 50% double stops with some challenging shifts.  It is not the most difficult piece I am working on, but is is still incredibly challenging with respect to maintaining good tone and good intonation since it is a four part harmony played on two cellos at a largo tempo.  Every aspect of technique is under a microscope in this piece.  I am also working on recording some stuff from Suzuki Book 4 (which I am finishing up!)  that is much more forgiving and less exacting when recording.  However, I wanted to post this first because I feel like it’s a more detailed picture of what I still have to work on.  Namely fuller tone, rhythm, smoother legato bow changes, more supple and springy right thumb,  & of course vibrato!

This is not a recording of the actual performance, but rather a multi-tracked duet performed on  my student cello.  The part with the sweeter tone & velvety vibrato is played by my teacher who used my cello to record a “practice” track to prepare for recital.   Her own cello sounds so much better, but she didn’t have it with her that day so she used mine.  Still… notice how much better she sounds on the same instrument!!   My squirlly and shrill student cello doesn’t diminish her skills one iota.