A little pocket teacher with a little pocket cello.


Sundays are my favorite day of the week. I get up late, have a relaxing breakfast, get ready, then head off to my lesson at 12:30. Throughout the week of practicing I’ve come up with about a million questions, more or less (probably more.) I figure that in a 45 minute lesson I won’t get to them all, but hopefully to the most important ones. However, it always happens that I never end up asking a single one.

She starts out having me tune, then tells me to warm up with a scale, likely C major with two notes per bow. Usually halfway through the first C she stops me, maybe halfway through the first D if I’m lucky. She wants me to do some other preparatory exercise first, because something is invariably wrong with either my shoulder or elbow. Somehow in the midst of her instruction she answers a couple questions I never got to ask from a few weeks ago, plus a few others I’ve asked during her course of instruction. Eventually I end up with a much nicer sounding C major scale and am thoroughly warmed up, but I haven’t asked any of those burning questions I’d been wanting to ask her all week.

We move on to the first of the three songs I’m currently working on. The song is simple melodically and rhythmically, but is more interesting harmonically. Or maybe it has a simple harmony but an especially complex rhythm. Or complicated fingering that turns my fingers into knotted spaghetti noodles. We end up playing it slowly so that I can really listen to how the two cellos sound together and correct my intonation. Then we might have a nice theory discussion about intervals and chords that leaves my head spinning. Or we work on my rhythm with the metronome for a while, which is all exciting until I’m actually able to play it correctly. That’s when we start talking about all sorts of nuances of articulation and dynamics in relationship to the rhythm, which reminds her to backtrack even more. So, we forget about rhythm and just talk dynamics, which leads her back to theory somehow, and my head is reeling again. Throughout all of this I’ve been so focused on learning what she has to teach and asking questions about what’s at hand that I’ve not asked anything I’d originally wanted to ask her.

She realizes it’s getting near the end of my lesson, so it’s time to move on to the next song. We’re generally able to work on it a little bit, usually applying a lot of what she’d talked about in the previous song. But, no time for questions, because she realizes she needs to give me more to work on for this week’s practice. So, while the next student unpacks, she quickly gives me instructions for the coming week’s practice. She realizes we never worked on song #3, so that’s definitely going to be the focus for next week — I just need to remind her.

I go home with a million unasked questions answered and a million burning questions never asked. If only I had a little pocket teacher with a little pocket cello. She could sit on the edge of my music stand answering my questions as I play each day.


4 responses »

  1. Pingback: Being a good student : Postaday2011 Day 11 « The Neophyte Cellist

  2. My teacher suggested getting a pocket voice recorder so at the very least I can have the ability to replay the lessons. I am finally going to take him up on that.

    Although you’re more advanced than I am, I think our lessons start out very similarly. I often learn as much during the tuning and scales part as I do for the main portion of the lesson.

  3. I have a pocket voice recorder, though I’ve never used it for lessons (but I use it for practicing.) I wonder how much that would help. I very rarely forget anything she’s said to me and if I do is usually something like fingering that I can figure out myself.

    I think people took this post as a rant of sorts, which it really isn’t. I absolutely LOVE my lessons and wish they were several hours long several days a week because they’re so valuable.

  4. Pingback: A New Approach « The Adult Beginner

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s