Since it typically takes 30 days to develop a habit, I thought I'd better give myself the full 4 weeks to determine whether I can handle practicing without any visual or physical aids.
This got me thinking, "what can I do to make this more enjoyable for me in the mean time?"
Two things I've discovered:
1) One Chocolate Martini + Cello Practice = Fun Practice!
- My favorite drink is a Chocolate Martini - so yummy!!! Anyway, my husband and I went out dancing the other night, but when we got to the bar, they didn't have the music we were expecting so we ordered some food and I had a chocolate martini. After we finished our food we drove home, and I decided to do some cello practicing.
- Obviously drinking alcohol isn't very conducive to learning. However, I did learn that when I'm "relaxed" and not worried about intonation, that my intonation comes back to me! All the old songs I learned were spot on! I know this was true because I always practice with my tuner ON when I play any piece to watch for intonation, which I did this time as well.
- So what does this mean for me?
- That I'm probably over-thinking things again (as usual) and I'm forcing my hand to do things that it normally doesn't do, i.e. before I removed the markers my hands were consistently getting the correct intonation; therefore it shouldn't be as difficult as I'm making it because even while I was a bit tipsy my hand remembered where to go!
- During my practice this weekend I'm going to try and just focus on being nice and relaxed and not be overly concerned about intonation. I'll focus mainly on how my body feels and what my fingers, hand, elbow, etc. is doing.
- This reminds me of a Family Guy episode:
- Lois & Peter after a night of heavy drinking, sing some karaoke songs, which shows them singing perfectly in tune and singing professionally. The day after, they reminisce of how awesome their karaoke duet was and how they kicked everyone's butt in singing. It then flashes to another scene which shows them as they really were, i.e. falling down drunk, singing horribly out of tune with Peter barfing beside the stage!
- LOL - I wonder if this was the case for me...probably not since I only had one drink! Although I did take more freedom in expressing the pieces! ;).
- These are just observations of mine, so DON'T start drinking and practicing! Although, imagining a bunch of drunk cellists practicing is kind of a funny thought! :0)
2) Earplugs + Cello Practice = Better Intonation!
- Another thing I tried this week, practicing with earplugs! I couldn't get past how bad I sounded and would stop after 5 minutes of playing scales. I thought, "if there were only a way for me to practice without hearing myself so I could get comfortable with finding and memorizing the position first before working on how it sounded..." I immediately wished I had an electric cello so I could just turn the volume way down, then I thought of earplugs.
- I put them on and used an electronic tuner to check my intonation, i.e. if my intonation was correct a green light would light up so I could check it visually instead of aurally. Although I still could hear my cello through the earplugs it wasn't as annoying hearing myself play out of tune!
- It seems counter-intuitive, but it actually works out fairly well! I made a few discoveries:
- First, I never noticed how much the cello vibrated against my leg, the front of my chest and over my stomach! WOW!! My teacher had mentioned this during one of my first lessons, but I always thought, "yeah, I can feel the cello vibrating, not a big deal - who doesn't?" But I'm talking about really vibrating powerfully~! So much so, that I can tell if my intonation is correct because it vibrates with a certain intensity! Feeling AND hearing the cello now has a whole new added meaning!
- Second, I was able to really focus on my body posture and what my limbs were doing. For example, the only way I can consistently find first position is if I make sure my initial seated position is correct and all the cello parts are touching specific spots on my body. This is all basic stuff and something my teacher has told me countless times, but it just clicked for me how important it really is!
- Third, when I removed my earplugs, my volume was SO MUCH LOUDER! Almost annoyingly loud! I've been working on getting more volume for awhile now, and this definitely helped.