I have picked up my bow after nearly a month’s silence while I had visitors. It is a struggle: I find it so frustrating that I did not start as a child – or even a young adult. I have a reasonably good ear, but I’m too stiff (not helped by ailing shoulders) to make progress with the vibrato I need to improve the tone.
My teacher, Jennifer, is doing her best. Instead of my usual diet of baroque music, where you can get away without having much vibrato, she has given me more romantic pieces by Chopin and Piazzolle (an Argentinian composer known for tango music). The Piazzolla goes up very high, so for the first time I’m playing at the very top end of the top two strings (for those who know about cellos, this means using the thumb as well as fingers to stop the strings. An interesting additional physical challenge, but not yet fit for public consumption.
At the weekend we had our regular Ecole de Musique public ‘auditions’. I was playing a trio by Gluck with a delightful group of girls of about ten. This went OK, which is more than can be said by modern piece I played with adult pianist and violonist (each being discreetly backed up by their teachers): the syncopation definitely got out of control.
The teachers also performed and Jennifer played a beautiful extract from Brahms’ first cello sonata. As you can see, these are informal affairs with no dress code!