This is a diary of my love affair with the cello.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Suspect Drain

Taken from

Plug the holes where your life energy is escaping.

If you are at all feeling overwhelmed or becoming more fatigued, then it might be time to take a look around for your energy drains. It could be the people with who you associate often, that bill you haven't yet paid, a project you haven't touched for a while, or a shirt button that still needs sewing. Anything incomplete that's hanging around in your life, are potential energy drainers. Either decide to be 100% OK with the way they are and let them go, or attend to them.

A few weeks ago, my car battery died after only a couple of years. AAA came to the rescue with a new battery. After performing some diagnostic tests, they told me that there was a "suspect drain" on my car battery that needed to be checked out. I got it checked and it turns out the suspect was the trunk light which never turned off, draining my battery over time.

What a great term - "Suspect Drain". I have many little things in my life that I put off and it is a drain on my daily energy level whether I realize it or not. I think I put them off because I don't want to take the time to find a solution. Putting it off today takes less energy than doing it today so I decide to put it off. Not before long, I've spent more energy procrastinating than I would have spent dealing with the task at hand. And worst yet, I'm still standing in the same position.

So..goal this summer is to procrastinate less and eliminate suspect drains on my life.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Now that I'm on Twitter...

no time to post!

For those of you in the southeast, you may want to consider going to Chamber Music Weekend in Chattanooga, I went last year and had a great time. Four days of playing in various ensemble groups - duos, trios, etc. It's heavenly to have access to all kinds of music and the people to play them.

I'm going again this year. Email me if you if you want more information.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Play like your ax is made of gold

A while ago, I read a book called the Violin Maker by John Marchese. This is a story of a luthier named Sam Zygmuntowicz who was commissioned to build a violin for Eugene Drucker of the Emmerson String Quartet. The book follows the building of the violin right from the selection of the wood to the end product. Gene Drucker owns a Stradivarius but wanted a modern instrument that would hold up better in his travels. Zygmuntowicz has to build Gene's rival violin.

I won't ruin the end of the book in case any one wants to read it but there was a point made in the story that I thought was great. No one knows why a Strad sounds better than a modern instrument. There are lots of theories - aged of the wood, kind of wood available when Stradivarius was alive, etc. This book addresses an interesting point though. Part of the reason why a Strad sounds better could be because of the musician's connection with a historical instrument. It's hard not to romanticize owning and playing an instrument with so much history. When a musician plays on a Strad, they are playing with all that history in mind. I have heard of musicians feeling like they need to "live up" to the instrument they own. This HAS to affect how they play which in turn affects how an instrument sounds. They have done tests with audiences listening to a strad vs. a modern instrument - and most times, the audience cannot hear the difference. So..the deciding factor is how the musician is playing, not so much the instrument itself. And how a musician is playing is dependent on so much.

The reason I thought of all this is because I recently had a sound post adjustment on my cello. Since then, my cello has not sounded as good. It sounded good in the shop but I'm know what it used to sound like in my house and it is not close to being as good. I need to go back and get it redone but I've been too busy. I can't tell you how much this change in sound has affected my playing. Notes that used to ring don't ring the same way. Other notes sound nasally at best. It's awful - I had to give it to my teacher at the last lesson to play so that I could hear it away from the instrument. Strangely, it sounded fine. Very frustrating! All this made me think of the point that was made in The Violin Maker - that our connection to the instrument plays a big part in how we sound. I felt like my cello was inferior in setup when I got home. Once that gets in your head, it's tough to work your way out of it and make yourself think it's ok no matter how good it sounds when someone else plays it.

Wow - is it all in our heads? This relationship with the instrument?