Things I learned after 10 years of cello lessons

Have you heard of the Black Hole endpin stop? Have you? Have you heard of it? Because if you haven’t, let me be the one to tell you it’s awesome. You know those portable holes some cartoon character used to carry around and use to escape with?

Maybe it was Wile E. Coyote, maybe it was someone else. I can’t remember right now. I’m getting conflicting signals when I try. [Edit: Looney Tunes, apparently. Thanks, Anne. ] But remember what a cool idea that seemed like?

Anyway, after 10 years of battling with a big T made of wood scraps that I wedged beneath my chair when I practiced, to stick the end of my endpin into, I discovered the Black Hole, a black rubber disk about 4 inches in diameter, with a hole in the center to hold the end of your endpin. It is made of a rubber that is non-skid on wooden or tile floors. It is said to be washable if it gets too dusty to grip the floor anymore.

It fits in your pocket. No more giant wooden T. I love it, and not only because of its name. But partly because of its name.

Second thing I learned about playing cello:

Don’t forget to breathe.

I am quite good at holding my breath. I can go two minutes. I can swim two laps underwater, if the pool is not too big. I apparently can play an entire tune without taking a breath, too, without keeling over off my chair. But that is not enough. Holding your breath affects your playing.

Who knew?

Ruth, you there?

Anyway, breathing. As if fingering and bowing at the same time wasn’t hard enough already.

Also: I’m getting really tired of Bach? Not to diss Bach, I love his music. It is just taking me forever to learn this tune I’m working on. How do you find a tune to work on that is both enjoyable and at the proper difficulty level? That is my problem, ignorant of music as I am. I hear something exquisite, want to learn it and then am all Holy Toledo! when I get a look at the notes, usually.

So I’m trying to compose something. A little something. About grunion.

I even – this is really awesome – I even met with a composer to discuss what I’ve come up with so far. He didn’t seem all that impressed about the grunion, but that’s okay. What I found cool was that he wasn’t even interested in hearing the MP3 my composing program (Finale) had generated. He just spread out the notes and heard it that way. That is not something I can do, so I was impressed.

[Edit: I tried breathing yesterday. It makes a huge difference. I had thought, Great, breathing, a third thing to worry about besides left hand /intonation and right hand / bowing. But it actually seemed to lessen the panic and /or frustration I often feel while playing, and was really groovy.]