Practice Cycle

March 23, 2010

Over the past few weeks I have become aware that there is a cycle to my practice sessions. I practice every day, or at least every day that I am not traveling and have access to my cello. (Some day I'd like to own one of these to have a cello I can take with me nearly every where.)

My cycle seems to be about three or four days long. Typically I'll have two or three good practice sessions and then I'll have very frustration session where nothing works. Of course the frustration itself adds to the inability to perform and only makes that off night even worse.

This past weekend was the first time I really tried multiple practice session in one day. On both weekend days my first practice attempt was frustrating and unproductive. However, coming back to the cello later, once after just an hour away, improved my attitude and my overall satisfaction with the practice.

Tonight was a good session. I was able to play the four pieces I am focused on right now, Rigadoon, Etude, Happy Farmer, and Minuet in C, without too much stress. Rigadoon is nearly finished I think. I have on occasion played it with the metronome set to 112. The Etude would be easy if it wasn't so repetitious. I find the double-stroke version easier to play. I get all the way through both variations at 90 and nearly so at 100.

After much struggling I think Happy Farmer is coming along. I can't play it with the metronome yet, but I am learning the proper rhythm. I think once I am more secure in the rhythm I'll be able to mate it to a steady pulse. My teacher wants me to aim for 66.

Minuet in C comes in two parts. I am happy with my progress through the first repeat. Even my slurs are starting to sound better. The string-change slur in measure 14 gives me fits yet. At my lesson Friday morning I plan on asking about how to play that.

The way I played tonight is how I would hope to play for my lesson on Friday, or for family if I were to (gulp) perform any of this for them. While it would be nice to play at your best for a lesson, I suspect that playing something less than your best may be better in the long run. It would be more revealing of the trouble spots which would bring them to attention sooner.

I just hope that my cycle bottoms out before Friday so I'm back on an upswing for my lesson.

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Mark H. Nichols

I am a husband, cellist, code prole, nerd, technologist, and all around good guy living and working in fly-over country. You should follow me on Twitter.