Thursday, 10 January 2008

Practise makes perfect (or gets you closer to it)

Sunset on the cello
Photo by rongzoni, used under the
Creative Commons License

When I was at Primary School, I had the opportunity to learn to play the 'cello. I continued to learn until year 10 at High School, when I realised that:

  • As I wanted to do some kind of computing degree at Uni, choosing Music as a year 12 subject wasn't useful.
  • I hadn't really ever put the effort in to practising regularly so I probably wouldn't do very well.

I'd reached a level where I could "bear to listen to myself playing" - if you know what I mean. Not in any danger of being head-hunted by a symphony orchestra, but I could muddle along. So apart from the odd time playing at my old Church, my 'cello pretty much stayed in the cupboard after that.

That changed a couple of years ago, when some musical friends of mine invited me to be a part of a band they were putting together (this later became Sevenfold). We practise about every two weeks, so the 'cello got dusted off and used a bit.

Then just before Christmas I was asked to take part in a 'Cello ensemble that was going to perform at my church's "Road to Christmas" event (where they transform the front carpark into "Bethlehem", complete with animals, food, beggars and roman soldiers!).

The ensemble was organised by Shinduk Kwoun, who is an accomplished 'cellist. She asked some of her students to come along (ranging from one who had only had 3 lessons, to others who have a few years under their belts) and also roped in Kym Worley (who's graduated from the Conservatorium, so he's pretty good)

Sadly (for me), Shinduk and her husband Robin are moving to Melbourne. But before she left, I asked her if she could suggest anything that would improve my playing. I was thinking maybe new strings, but her immediate response was "get some lessons!". And then she offered to give me some free tuition before she left Adelaide.

It was the Christmas break, so I was able to cram in quite a few sessions, and for the first time in a very, very long while, I was practising every day.

And you know what?

It does make a difference! Having someone to both encourage you and tell you what you need to work on really helps. Even in this short time, I've noticed some small improvements, and I'm now aware of some things I need to keep working on.

As well as the token of appreciation I plan to put in the mail to Melbourne, I'd also like to say thanks here for her help. Now it's up to me to see if I can keep the more regular practising and maybe get some more lessons.

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