Wednesday, May 5, 2010

An Update & A Reflection

So, first I want to start off by saying that all is well in the land of tendons and body-injuries & sickness ... I'm all better & playing a lot better too! (Partially from time off, and partially from watching a lot of Jacqueline DuPre & Greenhouse vids and trying to understand what they're doing with their left hand ... also, Nevarra's bow vids ... maybe someday someone will translate the rest of those into english!)

So what happened? I increased my practice time from non-existent (I was still playing in 3 or 4 ensembles regularly) to 3-6 hours a day in the span of a week and a half ... as Emily of put it *Hits head with frying pan* What did you expect?! ... or, as the saying goes, hindsight is always 20-20. Seems painfully obvious in retrospect... I had lots of accumulated tension in my upper arms & pecs and lower back and so that manifested itself in my tendons. Emily was kind enough to chat with me about some preventative strategies last night - definitely helpful!

There were some good things to come of this all:

1. I built up muscles/strength
2. I re-evaluated my technique (always a good thing)
3. I started stretching again (For a good series of stretches, I recommend finding John Petrucci's Rock Discipline video ... I use a few of those, but mostly use stretches I learned in Karate, years ago)

So, last week was a bit of a panic ... on top of all this tension stuff, I was pretty sick, taking about 4-6 ibuprofen a day & had 3 concerts and a ton of rehearsals!

I actually cancelled one of the concerts, because on top of all this I really hadn't worked out what I was going to play (it was my own solo show) ... I learned something from this: Decide rep/program *first* then book the show. I have a bad procrastination habit that I reinforced in college and that I am trying to break. One of the biggest keys to not injuring myself is that I have to keep the amounts of work I put into things consistent, which means I have to do more earlier. The other things is that I have to build my workload up in small increments & not giant leaps!

The other two concerts were a marathon to get through ... Friday I had dress rehearsals for both, and then saturday I had both concerts. The first concert was with my Piano Trio & involved playing Beethoven, Gade & Haydn in a hall where the sound on stage gave the impression that I was being buried by the piano (which was not actually the case) ... this was a real challenge to get through (mostly because of a fever and not being able to breathe clearly) & it really messed up a lot of my intonation & some of my entrances. Despite that, in the end, it had a lot of great moments & a very good energy & the people who were there really loved it.

The second concert was the St. Thomas Orchestra concert. This was also an endurance test (SS Cello Concerto, Schubert 4 & Coriolanus Overture). However, there were some *very* cool things about this concert. First was that we were doing the SS Concerto ... the soloist was really amazing & only in her late 20s. She really enjoyed the actual act of playing & there was this very singing quality to her playing - it was very cool. It was also interesting to note how toned her upper arm muscles were from playing cello - very much reinforcing the idea that the only way you get better at this thing is to put a tremendous amount of time into practicing. However, the thing that struck me most about Zhou Yi was that she really loved playing (and playing with us) - she was so excited in a completely sincere way & stayed along afterwards to tell the orchestra players good job & to stand around and chat with everybody. She really loved what she was doing & that was so great to see! (She also was part of what inspired me to get my butt in gear and start practicing more again ... it's so essential to watch - and really tune in to - great playing of your instrument as much as possible).

The other cool thing about orchestra was that we had two ringers (Our cello section is normally 5, but our principal was horribly sick), so there were 6 of us in total. Michael Meade - my teacher from college - came & sat principal & it was so great to actually work with him in orchestra & Viviane Penham also joined in & was a pleasure to get to work with.

On top of that, I think I played the best as an orchestral player that I've played so far ... still have a lot to go towards actually learning the music fully, but for once, I didn't feel like I was taking away from the group by playing

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