Author: Emily Wright

wamma wamma

Like an athlete on the DL, I have slowly been working my stamina up to where it was when I was in college. Sure, I’ve been playing 5 hours of lessons a day with my students and doing studio doubles, but unless the student is playing something monstrous like the Kodaly or the session is for John Williams (and unfortunately it hasn’t been), the playing is not too taxing. I have some symphonic work coming up in the fall and winter months, and I want to be able to practice, rehearse and play as much as I want. Complicating matters slightly is the fact that I have a compound injury to my back that at one point forced me to take a semester off from the cello during college. So if I ramp up my practice too quickly, I re-inflict the whole shebang again. I always like seeing how other people practice, so here’s what I’ve been up to, and the results thereof. Day 10: 1st finger vibrato across all 4 strings, 24 beats per bow, 50 bpm. noticed intermittent tension in bicep.Popper excerpts (a few troubling measures in 17 and 23) at 1/4 speed. made it a breathing exercise.Haydn D first movement 1/2 speed, run through, letting mistakes go. Day 22:Bought a foam wedge to sit on, immediate difference in weight distribution and instant improvement in rotator cuff...

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Recommended

I had the the Stahlhammer endpin taken out and replaced it with a deadly-looking, lesser-angled tungsten carbide one. If any of you out there are considering a new endpin, I cannot say enough good things about this bad boy! No more rattle. Lighter instrument. More precise intonation on the C string. (Eric Benning said that a number of people have reported this improvement) Stabs into any surface. I punctured some unsuspecting marble the other day. What? It was looking at me funny. Anyway, it was about $150, parts and labor, and I had little trouble adjusting from the 28 degree angle of the Stahlhammer to the 8 degrees of this one. Which is handy, because the cello that I am going to have made for me (eeeee! custom geekage!) will have the same thing. More on that as soon as my current cello finds a new...

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Devin

Devin Barlow is a student of mine. We meet once a week, for 30 minutes. Sometimes it feels like 2 hours to Devin, and not just because I am long winded and overexplanatory. Devin has very little short-term memory because of a catastrophic mountain biking accident in 2003, and sometimes the passing of time feels different to him than it does to the rest of us. What I find interesting, and hope to research, is why Devin is beginning to remember and retain things. His progress over the past few months has been staggering. This is a guy who used to ask me my name several times during our lessons. We used to have the same conversation at the beginning of our session: I would walk in, he would say, “That looks like a cello!” and I would say, “Yep. I thought you might like to have a lesson today.”, and off we’d go. Now he’s often the host, yelling, “come in!” when I arrive, and knows exactly the cadence of the first few minutes of the lesson. Tune the A, then A and D, D and G, etc. We take this for granted…of course that’s how you tune! But think about if you hadn’t played the cello for a few years, and then add in that you have this weird feeling like something’s off, that you’re not operating...

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Bah

When I originally submitted my manuscript to Oxford, I received a very cordial letter of not-quite rejection, not exactly acceptance. It praised the vibe of the book, the formatting, content, and even the images I selected. The editor suggested that I look at a particular trumpet book OUP had put out, and that if I wanted to expand upon what I had and make my own text more like that one, they would happily consider my efforts. It’s been a busy summer. Articles for AST Journal and Strings were written. Gigs were played. Students were corralled into a performance. Oh yeah, and I like to do non-cello things from time to time, too. So the text went to hibernate, and today I decided to check out this exemplar of fabulousness the editor spoke of. Before I get into the text, I would like to advise anyone in the Los Angeles area who has not been to the Brand music and arts library in Glendale to please, please go! It’s magnificent, and they have everything. Everything, including the driest, lamest, most antithetical-to-the-Emily-sensibility book I have ever laid my four eyes upon. Holy Mother of Pete. I was aghast. No pictures. No diagrams. Paperback novel size. I nearly died holding it in my hands as it sucked my soul out through my fingertips. If there was a conservatory for people who...

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back in the saddle again

I really detest summer. Don’t get me wrong: I have all sorts of happy memories from the summer months, but the weather had nothing to do with the happiness. I actually had to forgive the memories of their hot weather and endless days in order to love them! We still have a good month of swelter left in Los Angeles. At least a third of my Halloweens as a kid in Riverside were spent in costumed asphyxia due to temperatures upwards of 85 degrees. Yet, the incoming season flirts with those of us who know what to look for: this morning, the light in the kitchen was changed. Last night, the urge to sit on the porch with candle-filled glasses was irresistible. We had a smattering of rain, and the smell of wet pavement has not quite left certain corners of the city. Hooray! And now, inspired by all of this promise and change, I shall begin draft 2 of the book. Good riddance,...

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