Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Bach & Scotland

So here's something we haven't touched on yet; I'm a cellist.

I'm a lazy cellist.

But! I've been pretty good in the new year about turning around my practicing habits. As in, having any practicing habits to speak of.

I'm going through a very scary period of time where my muscles cannot keep up with the music I need to be able to play. I've been hired here and there and asked to play at functions, but I've allowed my muscles and tendons to deteriorate to the point at which they can't keep up with the repertoire I'm used to playing.

This is directly due to the fact that by the time I graduated with my degree in Cello Performance, I was so sick of playing the cello, I just didn't play it anymore. Now my fingers, wrists, arms, and back are all very, very angry with me. Who can blame them?

The good news is, little by little, I've been getting it back. Cello muscles are like any other muscles in the body. They must be routinely exercised and challenged to extend their limits.

Today I chose to do some Bach run-throughs and then start some new fiddle material. I need an hour and a half of comfortable repertoire by April 11th, which actually is looking pretty doable, but will take work. It will be background music at a cocktail hour at the resort I live near.

It's actually a gorgeous resort called Mohonk Mountain House. You should check it out.

Anyway, back to the rep (short for repertoire, meaning catalog of music to be performed)

For those of you who don't know, cellists basically have Bach to thank for their existence as any type of featured, soloistic, melodic instrument. His Six Suites for the Solo Cello are basically a cellist's bible. If you've ever listen to a movie score or a commercial on TV that has cello in it, chances are you were listening to one of Bach's compositions for the cello.

To be way briefer than I'd like to be as to why this is a big deal, the bottom line is the cello wouldn't have ordinarily been featured as a soloist before these pieces came out. So not only are they one of the first nods to the cello's ability to carry a piece on its own, but these pieces laid a foundational set of music for all cellists to come to interpret. Every serious cellist ever, literally, has taken their shot at what they think these pieces should sound like. And the possibilities are endless.

It made sense that of all places for me to start getting myself back into a relationship with Cocoa (my cello, she has a name) the beginning made the most sense.

To reach into much more recent music, I am also bringing out my old fiddle books (especially Crossing to Scotland, by Abbey Newton) to mix up my styles a little bit. Bach may be like taking cello vitamins, but fiddle music is like running cello marathons.

Originally developed on (you guessed it!) fiddles, this music is always challenging, especially for my bow arm. For private events like this cocktail hour I'm doing, fiddle music is an easy fix. It's happy, fun to play, makes people smile, and you can repeat it.

And repeat it and repeat it and repeat it.

You can play the same darn song the whole night if you'd like. If it's a good tune, no one will care. I don't intend on playing one song for the whole hour and a half, but it doesn't hurt to have some filler music in your back pocket for when you're out of ideas.

So that's what's going on in The Woodshed today. We named our music studio The Woodshed after the saying "I've got some serious woodshedding to do," which is what musicians we know say when they need to practice. Hopefully I can get enough rep together in time for April!

1 comment:

  1. As always, You will be amazing!!!
    But keep practicing.