Writings

Thoughts of an amateur cellist (1)

After a break of several years, I have just picked up my cello once more; a few minutes ago, I finished my first lesson and quite frankly I am feeling exhilarated at the prospect of returning to playing, albeit in a wholly amateur way. We started this week with Bach’s cello suites which I was tackling the last time round; it is hard to convey the sense of satisfaction that playing this work provides. It is a feature of Bach in general, of course, but I love the insistent repetitions, its proximity to (but utter difference from) scales. At the same time, these routine phrasings allow an underlying and more complex set of rhythm, repetitions and melody to emerge.

One more thing: after years of cajoling and not always successfully persuading my daughters to practise every day, if only for a short time, I have a greater understanding of the value of daily practice, of how important it is and how satisfying to go over and over difficult passages; how useless it is to simply skate over the parts one can ( sort of) play already. Then, like a jigsaw, one can start to put the music back together. I think I am even going to enjoy the sensation of not appearing to improve, because I better understand now that the work has been done at some level and cannot be erased. In fact, one of the most extraordinary things about starting to play again, after a long break, was the amount of knowledge – of a sensory and intellectual kind – that I had retained. It was all there, just below the surface. It may even be re-beginner’s luck, but I would say my playing sounded richer than it did before.

So from now, instead of trying to get other people to practise, I will try to suggest it through example. And if I fail, then I will just go off and play myself. Sighs of relief all round….

One Response to Thoughts of an amateur cellist (1)

  1. WordPress alerted me to your blog through a “related post” feature. I loved your post. I have two sons that I’m tired of nagging to practice. Which Suite are you working on? My current favorite tends to rotate, but lately it’s been the Sixth. I can’t play them yet. I can’t claim “re-beginner’s luck”. I have started only in late 2008.

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