Today we looked at Allemande of Bach Suite 1. It's been quite some time since we last looked at this so its nice to return to familiar ground, one that I've spent a rather modestly insane amount of time on back then.
It was comforting to know that muscle memory was working as hoped and fingers on notes naturally fell into right places. The bowing was much to be desired but overall, I had the piece down - technique wise.
Now the hard part - artistic interpretation. We spoke about bits of the suite reasons for certain bowing and fingering accompanying phrases. At the end of the day, you are relaying a story written by a composer hundreds of years old, in your own voice. Some contemplation of this process is always a good thing :}
Now, cello is an icebreaker of an instrument. It's so large, one simply cannot deny its existence especially if carried into a bus.
I have had many people approach me in the streets and public transport when the cello straddles my back. The most common usually involves comments like, "Bet you wish you played the flute, love!" or, "Gwan, play us a tune!" or even, "Oh wow, that's a rather large violin!".
Somtimes I get the odd person wanting to form bands with me or ask if I played in an orchestra somewhere. Sometimes I get the odd person wishing they had the time to pick up an instrument and then reminiscing about the times they didn't. Sometimes I get the odd person telling me about their very talented relative who played an altogether different instrument.
There was this one time when waiting for the train that I saw something slow and looming its way towards my direction. When the bassist was close enough to see me and the cello on my back, we gave each other a comforting nod.
Getting a cello on the bus or the train isn't a terrible way to travel and taxis are pricey luxuries but I don't drive (and don't plan to) so these are my only options. Still, there is an art to doing it. You will know that not everyone but most people will hate you for bringing such a cumbersome thing on board so knowing this is half the battle. Smiling (and apologising) goes a long way! Be thankful if you're able to flag down a double decker with space at the top. Never hope for an understanding crowd if it is rush hour. Your worst enemies are mothers with push chairs, people covered in shopping bags and teenages staring at their mobile phones - they will gladly push, prode and crush your cello if you are not paying attention.
That last unfortunate incident happened to me on a busier than usual route. I had to leave my cello in the small space allowed for luggages whilst I sat away from it, nervously and on edge watching the bus get fuller with each stop. It was very close but I had to squeeze past many unhappy passengers to firmly ask someone not to sit on my cello after he pushed, proded and poked at it for a while. Thankfully by then, I was almost at my destination and after inspection, the cello suffered no obvious damages.
Today's adventure comprised a group of teenage boys whispering and giggling at the bus stop.
"Bet she wished she played the flute or the violin!"
"Can you play the flute?"
"Or the violin even?"
"Oh, shut up."
Later, on the second leg of the journey, a man asks who I played the cello for. I wasn't sure what he meant so I replied that I played for myself. Apparently this was the right answer as he launched into a full blown conversation about his musical career as a folk guitarist. His advice to me was that I should find other musicians to play with, the more different, the better. I totally agree, of course. I've been in many bands, none are the same but it seems harder to find people to play with recently, possibly due to time contraints. Maybe. I'm unsure.
The conversation carried on to the next town but I didn't want to interrupt his passionate spewing about the past so I just sat through it until he took his leave an hour later. On the plus side, it was interesting to hear his stories and I now knew where my bus gets up to after my usual stop :}
And now, Laura Moody.
I found Laura earlier today on the Manchester Jazz Festival website
which I found from searching for the Manchester International Cello Festival. Sadly, the festival is no more and ended way back in 2007 after having been around for 20 years.