I’m not swimming in time these days, but I thought I it might be fun to offer a few basic reminders to take into your next practice session. Whether you’re an agnostic low-layer, a celebrant of another religion or a full blown, Ralphie-watching Christmasholic, this time of year manages to zap the life out of even the most rigorous practice routine. So let’s maximize what you do get, and I’ll also offer some tips for days when you may not even have access to your cello.

On the First Day of Cellomas, my teacher told to me:

1) Watch your bow speed today.

Unintended variations in bow speed cause surges and stalls in your sound. They are usually caused by a mechanical change in your arm: say, when you start to open from your elbow in the upper half of the bow. Other times, we just like to push up bows faster because that seems to be the nature of the student cellist. This practice is particularly rewarding and efficient with a metronome. If you have two half notes in a row, make sure that the two clicks on the down stroke get the same amount of bow as the up stroke.