Sarabande on SoundCloud (1979 Hours)

First SoundCloud Upload!

I wanted to upload my current rendition of the Sarabande from the first Bach Suite to mark my progress and share what I have been working on for the last 4 months.  Oddly, I found the record button to be a bit more stressful than playing before a live audience, and this version was on my 3rd take.  I think I need to log more hours with a mic recording me so that I get used to that unique kind of pressure.  It starts off perhaps a bit rougher than my recital performance, but I imagine this was generally how I sounded last Sunday.    I hope you like it, but if not, rest assured, I am working hard to improve every aspect of technique of which I am currently aware.

More About This Recording:

The fingering and bowing was apparently from a Fournier edition.  It is quite a bit more challenging than the Barenreiter edition, in my opinion which has somewhat easier bowings without much of the left & right hand acrobatics required in this version.  It was a great learning experience though, and the increased difficulty only caused me to be more aware of the processes involved in cleaner shifts and string crossings.

At this point, my bow hair and strings pretty are both a little worn out and in need of  replacement, and hopefully once I do, my tone will warm up and smooth out a bit, particularly on the upper strings which are year-old Larsen mediums.  The lowers are both Evah Pirazzi medium non-soloist, and are holding up a bit better than the Larsens even though the EPs are almost a year older.  I am thinking about trying a full set of the new Magnacore strings, but they are quite expensive, and I am not sure if they will last as long as an EP set, though they are designed to last longer than the standard Larsen strings.

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Tilting at Windmills (915 Hours)

tilting_at_windmills

The proper age at which to begin musical study is somewhat shrouded in mythos. The composer Zoltan Kodaly (1882-1967) was famous for saying that the training of a musician should begin nine months before the birth of the mother.  While it is clear that those who begin young have a significant head start, I tend to subscribe to the view that passion & curiosity are the more critical components of success since persistence or even initial interest is hardly guaranteed by situation of birth. For those who dedicate their lives to musical study a little later in life, achievement is very much possible, however the breadth and depth of the gap between late bloomers and their wunderkind peers has yet to be objectively measured. Historically, late beginner students lost access to advanced musical training once they aged out of the system, however the internet is increasingly the great equalizer in this regard, and music teachers are slowly opening their doors & minds to the potential of adult learners and digitizing their vast stores of knowledge. Still, much of the progress that adults make remains stunted due to constraints on freedom that come with adult responsibilities. The typical musical sojourn last ~2 years before ambition becomes ambivalence once the true distance to the mountain top is realized. This is far too short a timespan to know the limits of an adult learner. Partly out of scientific curiosity and partly out of my love for music, I have decided to embark on a 10 year -10,000 hour journey to explore and demonstrate what is really possible for a dedicated adult learner on one of the most difficult instruments to master in western music: the Cello.

The secondary and perhaps more important goaI of this blog will be to document the concrete steps such a journey entails. Scientific information about the path to musical mastery remains largely obscure, and advanced knowledge is still passed down by the traditional osmosis from teacher to student like closely guarded family recipes. The first tentative steps are uniquely terra incognita because most teachers were also child students. Much of the early learning process in then lost from memory to the dark recesess of inarticulate youth. The only well known study on the subject of obtaining mastery (by K. Anders Ericsson) was popularized with some controversy via Malcom Gladwell’s now famous 10,000 hour rule, which poses the dangerous idea that genius is really hard work & passion in disguise. Never one to look down my nose at lofty notions, I am actually quite inspired by the premise that the major barrier between myself and Yo Yo Ma is a mere ten thousand hours of practice. Therefore I’m starting with the assumption (or quixotic delusion?) that the only true limits are time, dedication, and whatever modicum of unrefined talent I am imbued with. Proceeding forward from there, I will be shinning a bright light upon the trials, tedium, elightenment, and exultation contained within a 10,000 hour journey into the realm of the possible.

In this blog, we will examine:

1) the process of learning

2) the elements of good technique

3) effective & efficient practice methods

4) the fundamentals of musicianship

5) how being a musician impacts the mind

6) the nature of sound & music