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The bridge between two f-holes

'ello, cello


Walked in on the tail end of a lesson with a new student. It's always super interesting to meet adult learners, more so on such a beast of an instrument like the cello - it takes a certain mindset and approach in life to even consider embarking on such an endeavour. Starting again, being a beginner and overcoming failure over and over again for the pursuit of an interest with nary a goal except knowledge when you should already know how to do stuffs as an adult because that's part of what being an adult is. We spoke briefly about this during lesson and the privilege of such circumstances before digging deep into double stop exercises.

I've recently been recording all of my lessons on a tiny voice recorder gifted to me last year. This made jotting things down on the blog a little bit more challenging as I'd go through the lesson again on the way home in the bus. Still, I have committed to this endeavour and it's good practise (I hate writing - being on the spectrum, I find it far easier to project thoughts through telepathy) so I'm going to stick to it.

Deryn sifted through her library of cello tomes and decided on a beautiful and meditative double stop study by Dotzauer for me to work on - the kind of stuff you normally wouldn't associate him with as he's largely know for torturous and tedious; veering on the dull, which is probably a somewhat unfair generalisation of his life work (of which the entire historical catalogue of cello repertoire is forever grateful for ) but largely true nonetheless.

Having spent some considerable time on this technique, I found that it's more than that. It has completely changed the way I approach cello playing!

To be able to get a good, solid, clear and beautiful tone on two strings, one needs to be at the most optimum angle to attack it. The bow also needs to be touching the string fully, not slightly grazing clumsily or lazily - the bow needs to mean it. There's an amount of gusto needed when playing double stops; you are fully exposed! Slightly misaligned and your shoddy intonation is heard from miles away.

I found that I was thoroughly challenged in position changes and shifting. Since I was now playing chords, I needed to know what intervals and notes I was playing so I knew where to shift to. This wasn't such an ordeal when you were playing single notes but with double stops, you had to pay attention.

After a while though, it felt really rewarding to be able to do swift finger acrobatics on the fingerboard, like learning the choreography of a dance :}

Here's Seungmin Kang with Toshiro Mayuzumi's Bunraku, a piece I've been a little obsessed with.


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Learning the cello as an adult started as a dare but has now turned into an ongoing love affair; I hope to one day make her sing to her full potential. In the meantime, all spare time and moments are dedicated to this wonderful instrument as I am unable to think about anything else, much to the dismay of my other half :}

This is an attempt to remember the classes I have taken so that I don't forget.

My wonderful teacher, Deryn ~ http://cellostudio.info/