Finding a reason to teach is a lot more straightforward that a reason to perform. Of course, what would you teach if you were an unskilled, uninspired performer? They go together. I seem to forget that. And things like that. I guess I get super focused on one thing at the expense of everything else. That is my gift, as well as my curse.
I am holding on the idea that if I understand my passion, everything will fall into place. I am not normally one to analyze my passions. Or am I. I may have two opposing tendencies. They hate each other. I hate myself. I am always dealing with contradictions within myself. Thomas Moore wrote that that is in our nature. The nature of our souls. Our minds are not in favor of this. But our souls demand it, require it. That was one of the things I loved so much about his books. I haven’t read them in many years. But they remain in my being.
I have contradictions in religion, self-care, discipline, self analysis, emotionality, embracing of naiveté, etc. You name it. T Moore is okay with that. I suspect so is J Foster. Okay to the extent that you learn what happens next. When your head and your heart are at odds.
The left hand is a busy guy. And a bit conflicted.
While you’re exerting pressure downward into the string, you are also doing a variety of other actions. Shifting, vibrating, bridging between strings, playing chords or double stops, and God knows what else that I can’t think of off hand.
How is all of this possible? By not doing any one of those things to the point where it overtakes the others. Hold on loosely, but don’t let go, as the rock song advises. That should be my cellist’s motto.
Of particularly frequent concern is combining pushing down notes and vibrating. Those actions are extremely contradictory. My friend tried to show me how they work together. You actually use the pressing down as an anchoring device, around which you can vacillate for vibrato. That has always been a problem for me. Maybe it’s too complex and my brain isn’t able to send the correct information to my hand. It gets shorted.
Recently I’ve been enjoying great benefits from practicing basic scale exercises. My guess is that it takes all of the musical layers and emotions out of the equation, so that my body functions in its simplest and most efficient manner. That’s my guess. There I am playing my Klengel — it’s interesting to think of how many cellists over the decades have played the exact same thing, including Klengel himself. I guess if it worked for them, who am I to question it.
I practiced last week. I wanted to do some honing after hearing pristine violin playing the other week. It works, funnily enough, that practicing stuff. But I find it also carries with it a risk factor in orchestra, that being over-fatigue. But now I see that that is only in the short term. Over a few weeks as of yet, it is becoming easier to play. I tactily know where I’m headed on the instrument, and I’m mentally less second-guessy and trepidatious. But this typing is a killer.
originally published on 3/2/07