I had to take a leave of absence from my cello lessons in early October for financial reasons. Mike said he’d hold my time slot for me so that when I was able to return there’d be room for me in his schedule, but that didn’t change the fact that since I’m not the most advanced cellist, the lack of accountability made it really easy for me to slip into a guilt-free cycle of non-practice. Except it wasn’t guilt-free at all, and I’ve spent the past three and a half months staring longingly at Sovay, unable to motivate to play but feeling like I had somehow failed myself. This instrument has been my dream for over a decade now, and the thought of letting it fall by the wayside breaks my heart. As soon as I became comfortable calling myself a cellist, I stopped playing the cello.
But today, with my bedroom finally clean and my cello chair finally clear of the clutter that had piled up on it over the past twelve or so weeks, I picked up my instrument, spent twenty minutes getting her back in tune, and then for the next half-hour I played a few scales and went through my books running through pieces I hadn’t played in a long time even when I was playing every day, and it felt so good.
I’m going to try to keep this up.
This is a something Emily Wright wrote on the Stark Raving Cello Blog back in May 2010. It inspired me to stop apologizing for the fact that I’m still learning early last year, and given what I’ve been dealing with of late, I’m thinking I’m going to print it out in huge letters and hang it on my wall. It’s what I’ve needed to see this entire time, and I’m glad for the reminder.
This is for all of you, in case there was any doubt.
You are a cellist.
You are a cellist if you’re injured and can’t play.
You are a cellist if you’re rehabbing from surgery.
You are a cellist if it sounds like ass.
You are a cellist if you are convinced it’s a farce.
Riding high or low in the saddle, you are a cellist.
If you have delayed gratification, ignored phones and ticked off family and neighbors, you are a cellist.
If you practice, you are a cellist.
If you enter competitions and never win, you are a cellist.
If you sit last chair last stand, you are a cellist.
If you have been in Suzuki book 2 for 3 years but live for Elgar, you are a cellist.
If the cello means something to you, and you have done your best, you are a cellist.
Are we clear?
-The endpin is very short and also bent
-I broke the A-string in an attempt to tune it, to see how the B-flat sounded
-The pegs are really loose (really easy fix)
-Bridge is leaning
New buddy needs a lot more work that I’d originally thought.
That’s okay. He’ll be in working condition in no time.
Oh, and his name is Rusty.
Spicatto is hard, y’all.
Mike wants me to practice it on open strings but I can’t keep the cello stable when I’m trying to bow so quickly. Anyway this is real bad.
It just doesn’t sound right. It’s not associating. I kind of think it like, you don’t associate a wooden table with the color brown, it just is brown. That’s what it is, not an association. You don’t associate your mom with being a woman. She is a woman.
I associate Thanksgiving with Sacramento, because that’s where I would go to celebrate with family. I associate starch with itchiness, because I’m allergic. I associate cream savers with vomiting, because I got car sick and threw them up.
I don’t associate C with light blue. C is light blue. I don’t associate biting into an apple with yellow triangles. Biting into an apple is yellow triangles. Just like my headphones are male, and the sound of a wooden chair scraping against a wooden floor is a dark orange zig-zag.
Gets my goat…
I mean, I will grant them that it must be hard, as someone who is not synesthetic, to describe to someone who is also not synesthetic how synesthsia works, so describing things as associations makes it easier. But to say we “associate” sounds/colors/smells/letters/whatever with sounds/colors/smells/letters/whatever implies that our brain does a little work before the association is made. But it…doesn’t. Like, I can’t remember a time in my life when the letter A wasn’t female, or the number 8 wasn’t male (despite every other even digit being female). It’s not an association, because my brain doesn’t do any work to get it there. I see a note on the staff and it it’s male or it’s female, it’s kind or it’s cruel, it’s young or old, whatever whatever. It’s automatic. Also, associations aren’t in any way arbitrary. And synesthsia is so completely arbitrary it’s not even funny. There’s no rhyme or reason to it at all. Like, patterns might emerge (like with my odds and evens) but apart from that, there’s nothing that dictates it other than random misfiring synapses.
I bought Sovay for $225 at a popular but still shady music store in the Richmond and so she’s not the best quality instrument. That being the case, the action on this cello is so high that I can’t play B-, E-, A-, or D-flat. We’re taking her in to see Dr. Stringz pretty soon but it’s hard to get an appointment with the violin guy I go to and it’s a huge hassle since not being able to play these notes is kind of seriously halting my progress. I can’t move to the next book or take the tape off my fingerboard until I can get these extensions down, and I’d really like to take the training wheels off now…