Chinese Proverb

"Tell me and I'll forget. Show me and I may remember. Involve me and I'll understand." - Chinese Proverb.

Monday, November 5, 2012


I'm going to catch up on my posts since I've fallen behind again! My goal after this post is to try and keep up. I know I said that last time, but this time I mean it! ;)

Also, I will post May Time by the end of this week. I tried recording it last week but it sounded BEYOND horrible so I couldn't make myself post it... I guess that's what I get for not practicing consistently. :(

Approaching 100 lessons - that is just depressing!! :(

Good thing I didn't know beforehand that it would take me 100 lessons to get to Book 2 (and only the 2nd piece!), otherwise I probably would not have learned how to play the cello!

Truthfully, I am a bit disappointed about how far I've gotten - especially since I know of other adult beginner cellists who at this point were able to play a couple of the Bach Suites!!I know I'm not supposed to compare myself to others, but... *sigh* Okay, getting my butt in gear and will be practicing more consistently!! Grrrr!!!


  1. Hey ya, believe it or not, your posts have been like a much awaited treat that comes like monthly, that when it finally here, i want to read them all in 2 seconds (think of a child with 10 unopened present on a xmas morning :P)

    So, it has finally come to the 100th lesson next time eh? time sure flies, but i feel it's a bit weird you should feel depressing! look at the amount of updates you put this time, I'd only accomplish that in 2-3 months. I'm dying to watch your May time, because I've to say that I learnt a lot from your video and posts! Still envy your bowing arm and the feelings you put in the music.

    On the left elbow/arm sticking out,maybe I can share something what i learnt from you last time. Remember the post you put a pic of Casal's ex-wife, Suggia. I tried exactly what you said and last two weeks, my teacher commented I shouldn't change anything on my left hand posture, it's looking fine and helps the intonation. There are a lot other posts that I believe have helped my in my own journey and a lot others', so there's no need to undermine your achievement by comparing with others' :)

    BTW, i had the same string-crossing issue before which i believe gets easier since I started Schroeder. You might want to look for #12 and #23.

    I am also actually kinda on 'Suzuki-break' so yeah, really support that working something other than suzuki decision :) (though Bach's Minuet #3 is so lovely that I hope you gonna post the video from taking 'suzuki-break'). Suzuki rep is good and all, but some other flavors once in awhile won't hurt don't you think? Right now, i am working solely on Schroeder with occasional short pieces like Nina and El Choclo. I just wanna build a more solid foundation before actually doing something more serious like Breval sonata and Bach suites.oh, i might need to start study scales like you. Gmajor and Dmajor must already hate me for playing them poorly everyday :P

    Hopefully both of us will get to play more and more cello despite other things that we need to deal with as adults. Thx for sharing!

  2. Hey Thad, that’s awesome! I’m glad you enjoy reading my posts - it really does help me stay motivated and focused in continuing to write these posts!! :D

    My teacher and I came to the same conclusion regarding correcting my elbow and arm by using the “Suggia technique” – it just aligns everything back into place for me.

    …yeah, I guess I just thought I'd be much further along, but it is what it is...

    Great idea! I’ll ask Clayton if we can go back to Schroeder and will take a look at those two etudes. :)
    Btw, how’s the Lullaby coming along?

    Thx for commenting!!! :D

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  4. Lullaby is still on hold..The notes aren't hard to learn and the tune is quite familiar,, just that I need it to sound better than it is now..So gonna revisit later when I have more color in my tone and maybe vibrato..Today my teacher assigned me Breval Sonata in C, which I believe gonna take months before I learn everything..How I wish i started cello when I had more free time like during school/college time :P
    Thanks to YOU for sharing all these amazing stuffs :D

  5. Hi Gemini!

    First of all, you have a great blog, and we all thank you for sharing your learning path.

    As for your progress and being a bit disheartened by your learning rate, maybe I can help you a bit.

    I am a Physicist and Neuroscientist, and most importantly a Suzuki Cello student, and I know a few things about learning and the brain that can certainly help you out.

    I think I can already pinpoint several things that are blocking your progress, but you would have to check and be "cool" with your teacher :)

    For example one thing that sticks out is the rate of challenge in your practice. While it is understandable for a teacher to want the student to learn perfect motions from the very beginning, the usual methodology for seeking perfection consists of dwelling on a single piece for too long. And that's not how the brain learns best, in fact this is exactly how the brain stops learning. The most efficient zone for learning skills is a point where the challenge is such that you fail to perform correctly around 50% of the time. As the challenge diminishes, the brain starts to go into automation phase and you are not learning much, independently of how much you practice. (And of course as you have probably noticed, your attention span suffers as well, and without attention there is not learning either). So when you dwell on a single piece for too long you quickly get to a diminished returns stage. It is much more productive to go forward and come back later on, and set the standard higher than the first time around.

    So you should always attempt the perfect motion, but you have to keep the practice challenging. It is all about perfecting the little things at a challenging rate, but one at a time.

    This is just the tip of the learning iceberg, and I am sure you want to hear it all about practice schedules, the role of sleep, and many other factors. Drop me a note on my email and I'll point you in the right direction.

    1. Hi Alain,

      Physicist and neuroscientist - that's quite a pairing! Totally off topic, but do you watch the Big Bang Theory? I totally love that show! :)

      Anyway, I'd LOVE to learn more about learning faster, easier, better... will you shoot me an email at I'm not sure how to send you an email through blogger.

      One of the reasons I have two cello teachers is because both teachers have different teaching methodologies, personalities, and playing abilities. Clayton happens to move through technique and repertoire fairly quickly. We only stay on one scale or piece for a couple of weeks (or depending on how much time I get to play the cello). While Adam stays on repertoire longer. It's a good balance since Clayton keeps things "challenging" while Adam is training me to "hone in" on pieces. I like creating mini-games with myself, or sometimes its just nice to get "focused," which I think is important skill to develop. :)

      I'm "testing" the Suzuki pieces, and recording the videos since it's S.M.A.R.T. Yeah, I know, took to many goal oriented classes! ;). The Suzuki method is just..."blah" for adult beginners, and I don't like some of the pieces. I wish there was something better out there.

      I'd love to learn some other tips and tricks, so please send me your email address! I'd love to shoot you some ideas as well. :)

    2. It is a great idea to have two teachers. I will drop you a line.

      P.S. I do watch and enjoy The Big Bang Theory! But it took me a bit of time to accept it as it is (a writer's version of stereotypical physicists), than what I wanted it to be (real stereotypical physicists). :)

  6. Gemini, I have sent you 3 longish emails. I hope you find them interesting and useful. Would love to hear your thoughts.

    1. Hi Alain,

      Sorry about the long delay in response. I will reply to your email shortly, but - WOW!! LOVE your thoughts and ideas! :D