“Do you think you’re profiting from these lessons,” my cello teacher asked me the day before yesterday. I was a little gobsmacked. I mean, I’ve been wondering the same thing, but why was he asking? Does he want to break up with me? Is he being contrite? I didn’t get it and said something vague.
But the truth is that my improvement has been marginal ten years of this and I’m still absolutely musically clueless. My technique is bad as is everything else. I have a nice cello, though, in a nice red hard case.
It is somewhat frustrating. It would be more frustrating were I to have actual musical goals I was wanting to accomplish, but when I try to visualize a goal all I get is haze. Maybe there’s a kind of musical dyslexia and I have it.
That would be nice, because it would be an excuse, rather than insufficient practice and impatience. Largely, though, I guess it’s pretty much mea culpa. A few brief, unfocused practice sessions per week doesn’t cut it. My teacher hasn’t been much help, he’s been pretty nice and patient and forgiving until now, whereas what I probably needed part of the time was a mean little old Russian lady with a willow switch making me play scales until my fingers bled.
I’ve bought a book of etudes I’m trying to work through. I bought a book of scales I’m going to try to work on, although, I am ashamed to admit, I am still shaky on the whole concept of key signatures and other basic music theory.
Also my bowing sucks and my breathing is ridiculous. I’ve started hatha yoga and that ought to help with the latter.
My intonation is okay. So-so. Second and third fingers a little close together, but if I concentrate on that it’s okay.
I say ten years. I do think so. Ten years is a long time.
On my end of the process, I would have to guess that insufficient practice and a lack of any sort of vision of what I really want to do are my main problems. My original goal was to find out how a cello works. So what now? I blindly stumbled into playing in an orchestra. Maybe playing competently in an orchestra? Playing specific pieces competently?
Understanding what the hell is going on? Maybe that’s asking too much.