Blog Followers

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By some miracle, I’ve managed to collect a surprising number of followers. When I started this blog, I was expecting my total to be somewhere around zero, but people have surprised me. Not only are there a surprising number of beginners, some more advanced students and some teachers have been reading my blog. Then today, a man named Jon Silpayamanant subscribed to my blog and I’m kinda wondering why. What I have to say can’t be *that* interesting to someone like him, can it? He sounds all fancy and awesome, and I’m just me. Is he trying to learn more about his adult students’ neuroses so he can better deal with them? That’s the only reason I can think of. Anyone?

P.S. I will soon post about all sorts of cello revelations that have come after my lesson with my teacher’s teacher, practicing afterwards, and today’s follow up lesson with my teacher. So stoked!

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12 responses »

  1. John subscribed to me too and I thought exactly the same as you. Wha?

    Talking about stalking, I mean following, I just signed up to cellobloggers as curiosity as to what’s behind that signup form finally got the better of me!

    What’s next? Maybe I should start tweeting? Les has just played C major warm up. Les has just played G maj. Les has just tried Minuet 2 for the zillionth time. Les has just thrown the bow across the room….

  2. I wonder if he just wants to know what goes on inside the adult students’ heads. I’m *hoping* he does, in any case.

    And boy would we have the worst tweets ever:

    “Played open G string for several minutes. Still sounds like crap.”
    “Played open D. Almost cried. Four times.”
    “Tried Playing open C and had to put the cello down.” “Practiced bowing sans the cello. Sounded much better.”
    “Tried working on the first phrase of Sicilian. Managed to stop before chucking the bow.”
    “Fingered Sicilian sans bow. Sounded much better.” “Worked on vibrato. Cello sounded like it was barfing and I nearly threw up too.”
    “Tried combining fingering, bowing, and vibrato. *Sob*”
    “Worked on the song with the metronome. It’s broken now.”
    “Decided to fix myself hot chocolate.”
    “Ate some truffles.”
    “Mmm… cheese!”
    “Back to cello. Bowing sans cello sounds great!”
    “Bowing *with* cello does not sound great.”
    “Stiff wrist. Grr. Terribly afraid of dropping bow and can’t relax.”
    “Relaxed enough to drop bow. Sounds better!”
    “Legato bowing sounded like legato bowing! Time to stop while I’m ahead!”

    I wonder how long I could keep going. I think forever. And ever. But no one wants to hear how I almost cry every time I work on my legato bowing. Especially because it usually takes about 10 seconds of bowing before I’m nearly in tears and have to break. So, no twitter.

  3. Egads, I didn’t realize gravatars had a bio limit-I need to shorten hat bad puppy!

    But seriously, I had just switched over to this old wordpress blog this weekend from one I had hosted at my website for various reasons. I clicked the “cello” tag and found all these bloggers who play the cello and thought it would be great to be a part of that blogging community. In the end, it doesn’t matter to me what level you folks are since we’re all students on this wonderful instrument, right?

    Besides, I’ve always felt that everyone can learn something from anyone–even if it’s just to know the neuroses going on in adult beginners heads! πŸ˜‰

    But look at it this way too, I actually quit playing the cello for nearly 8 years after I finished my degree. It was a mindnumbing several years of playing and practice to get me back up to speed. In some ways I play better than I ever did, in other ways I’m still trying to figure out why I can’t do some of the things I was able to do back then with ease and little work (I’m sure some of that is just age related, sadly).

    And yes–since I’ve just started teaching regularly again, I am really interested in knowing what’s goign on in [any] student’s head–if that can help make me better teacher, then the effort is well worth it!

    In the end, we are fellow bloggers writing about our adventures with the best subject in the world–the cello!!!

  4. Whoa, super paranoia. I’ll bet Jon just saw that you joined cellobloggers and decided to follow you. We cellists are really (on the whole) a friendly bunch. There’s a big “pay it backward” ethos – encouraging beginners, and yes, reminiscing about the old days. It adds persepective to your own playing journey.

    You’ll find cellobloggers is pretty quiet these days, but it’s still a good place to find other cellists who blog. Jon was probably happy to find some active bloggers – most of us went dormant a couple of years ago (and yes, many moved to twitter).

    Anyway, welcome to cellobloggers, to you ee-lee-see-uh and Les, too.

  5. When I said neuroses I wasn’t kidding. Have you read through my whole blog yet? (or even just looked above at my hypothetical tweets?) Most of what I have to say is me being crazy rather than anything important. It baffles me that people keep reading this blog, although many of them *do* have the same chucking bows/metronomes/rosin/etc. across the room problem too.

    That’s wonderful that you have been able to be so successful after 8 years of cellolessness! I think that’s even crazier/braver than taking the instrument up as an adult. What was that like for you? How did you deal with comparing yourself to a younger you? And I thought comparing myself to a hypothetical parallel universe me who played since she was a kid was bad!

    When you write that you think this problem is age-related, I think of this Pablo Casals biography that I read a while back. I’m probably getting this quote totally wrong, but when he was in his late 80’s or early 90’s or at least really effing old, he said something to the effect of “I keep practicing for several hours a day because I just keep hearing improvements.” People were harassing him about sneaking off to practice after his heart attack because his doctors told him to rest, but he had to keep practicing because he still heard improvement from it. So, when I hear you say you think it’s age-related, I wonder if that’s actually the case.

    It also reminds me of the lesson I had this weekend with my teacher’s teacher. Tension in my thumbs has been a real problem with me and has been holding me back. She basically told me that I have to tell my thumbs to relax and stop using this as an excuse for why I can’t do x, y or z. It had never occurred to me that I was using it as an excuse, although that’s exactly what I was doing. I’m always trying to not use my late start as a reason for not being as good as I could have been had I started young but it had not occurred to me to look for other excuses.

    So maybe you actually CAN do some of those things you think your age is preventing. Just a thought.

  6. I guess I’m always looking over my shoulder and am pretty convinced that other musicians are often out there to be mean or something else bad. I’ve experienced this more often that I would have expected before I started playing cello. For some reason I’ve encountered many musicians who like to tell me all about how terrible I will always be and how awesome they are. I have a guilty-until-proven-innocent problem. So yeah, paranoid.

  7. Actually, I had joined cellobloggers (this is the ning.com site right?) some time ago (I believe not long after it started). Only went back to the site this weekend to update the link change to my blog to reflect the fact I had imported my blog entries to the wordpress site.

    Elysia (I’m assuming it’s ok to refer you by your name since you have that in your “about” page, I understand how folks online can want some measure of anonymity so correct me if I’m mistaken) – sometimes I’m surprised I came back to it to though usually I don’t really know (in some ways) why I left the cello behind (I must admit that I was still performing – though not on the cello – intermittantly during those years).

    I had heard teh Casals story before when reading his biography many years ago. And for the record, I’d like to think that I’m not that old–yet πŸ˜‰ , but I have also read about musicians who come back to playing actively after a few years absence and how many have issues with various physical problems the least of which is not a greater propensity for arthritis.

    I think musicians (if not most people in general) can too often use any excuse to explain why they might not be doing as well as they would like (take my age comment, for example as you rightly pointed out). We’re all human afterall and need to have an explanation for our behaviors no matter how right or wrong they may be. In some cases it just takes a more neutral observer to point out what we may be trying to do (especially if that observer has a lot of experience with those things!).

    On the whole I’m pleased with the newer skills I’ve picked up if only because I’ve had to actually learn very new and different things due to the nature of much of the type of music I’ve been performing the past few years.

    As far as what it was like to pick up the cello regularly again – well, the reading music part was interesting. I used to learn and memorize music relatively quickly so it felt odd trying to navigate the finger-to-eye coorination again. And as much of the music I was performing were shorter tunes than what we’d normally find in more involved large ensemble music I quickly got back to that point and eventually started learning how to learn music by ear. What I found really strange during those first couple of years was that I would occasionally ‘hallucinate’ sheet music for tunes I would be playing–even if the tunes were those that I learned by ear. That really threw me for a loop for a while until I got used to regularly learning music that way.

    Dealing with the younger me was a bit more problematic since I did have an image of what it was like and what I could do there was always this sense of “competition” with my younger self which probably added to a bit of a self-esteem issue obviously.

    That feeling still occasionally pops up. Though as I’ve had plenty of opportunities to perform for other classically trained musicians who’ve been more than intrigued by my ability to improvise and play hours upon hours of music without a score as well as in the variety of styles of music I now do most of those issues have cleared up for the most part. I’ve come to realize that in a way, starting from the ‘atrophied’ state when I came back to the cello I was able to unintentionally undo some things that would have been problematic for me with the music I spend most of my time doing now.

    Of course, getting back into teaching the cello–that’s a whole different issue altogether. now I have to revisit those skills I used to have so that I can effectively pass on the knowledge of how to play this big honking instrument we’ve chosen to be obsessive about, and again I’m on a steep learning curve as some of it comes back to me quickly while other aspects are taking more time to sort out.

    And see, that’s one of the wonderful things about working with the musicians (outside of the classical music world) that I do now since quite a number of them get a much later start than what we would consider optimal for mastering a classical instrument. Whether or not the instrument gets mastered in the way one would expect for classical music playing is a whole different issue but plenty of musicians spend their lives just enjoying their instrument and making music (and yes, some even professionally) no matter when they started.

    I don’t know if any of that answered your question, but especially to your last comment–I ha an adult student who was told the same thing by one of her classical music friends (the “musicians who like to tell me all about how terrible I will always be and how awesome they are” comment) and that is just deplorable. Sure, maybe you’ll never be a Yo-Yo Ma, but then again–most of us “professionals” will never be a Yo-Yo Ma either. What’s the point of doing that when we can just be ourselves an enjoy what we’re doing, right?

    Ok, now I have to get to your very interesting comment at my blog!

    Cheers, and good luck with your musical journey!

  8. Jon- Thanks for such a wonderful reply. Your comment about being in “competition” with your younger self reminds me of an article I read about Yo-Yo Ma. If I can ever find the link again I’ll send it to you. In it people were talking about how kind he is. He said something like “You would never say to someone else ‘my vibrato is better than your vibrato’ so why do you say it to yourself?”

  9. For some reason I must have missed that one–thanks for posting!

    Those include forays into different musical genres, which classical music purists bridle at but which have become one of Ma’s calling cards: the film music of Ennio Morricone, traditional American fiddling with violinist and composer Mark O’Connor, and his ongoing work with the Silk Road Ensemble, a group he created in 2000 to explore exchanging music of different cultures.

    An OH do they bridle!!

    Indeed, any controversy that Ma has caused has been occasioned by music: specifically, his forays into other genres, which, particularly when he started them, ran counter to the idea that a classical musician ought to stick to the classics.

    “I think he’s an example of why we all need to get out of the niche, if we’re able to,” Ax says. “I’m somebody who’s incredibly boring and just does the same thing all the time as well as I possibly can. It’s people like him who lead the rest of us to the thought that music is music; it’s not ‘classical’ or ‘pop.’ “

    YES!!

    Very nice article–thanks so much for posting!!

  10. Glad you enjoyed it so much!

    As an aside, a friend of mine just posted the most awesome FB status ever:
    “Got serenaded by an older Italian man, in Japanese, at a Thai bar.”

    How’s that for multi-cultural music?

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