Baby Step #2.

[This is the 2nd of a post series on Baby Steps.]

Baby Step #2 - Adding a step & teaching ourselves to fall again: The next thing Glenda and I worked on together on Monday was adding a new note, F#, to the previous note, A. Notes are a simple and tangible way to keep track of baby steps, however even taking one step on the sidewalk has more than one movement in our body. We have to learn how to figuratively "transfer our weight" from one foot to another, muscle by muscle.


Teaching ourselves to learn is a really difficult (but not impossible) thing to do after the age of 4. I've seen through teaching beginning adult students, that learning to learn is a skill that most adults haven't done since early grade school. If you think about it, everything beyond that in school is built upon a previous education. When you pick up the cello (or any instrument) for the first having never touched anything like it before, you're starting from square one. Most of my adult students weren't expecting to encounter that difficulty when they chose the cello, however it seems that the challenge is addicting.

So back to practicing... an important thing to realize here is that we had to take the larger step from A to F# several times before we recognized that doing large step was actually two or three or four baby steps. We added a new baby step by feeling out and hearing out the combination of the current and next notes. ( A, F# (caught the lower string.) A, F# (tone lacked). A, F#(caught the G string). Etc.) By hearing ourselves make a mistake over and over again with forgiving grace and positive reinforcement, we are able to narrow down the source of that speed-bump.

Think about this: a baby doesn't take long, gazelle-like, deep strides directly after crawling. There's the cute pulling-up-onto-the-coffee-table stage, the shimmying-around-the-coffee-table stage, the falling-onto-the-nearest-furniture-from-the-coffee-table stage, and eventually, standing and then slow, small steps. But of course, there's lots of falling-on-diaper-cushioned-baby-bottoms. We have to do the same things when we add a new note, including the falling down.

Using the tangible next ladder rung, a note, we are able to feel out that a note (in this case, the F#) just may be too big a step to take next. This allows us to get to the bottom of the next appropriate step for practice, for the right hand in this case, string crossing. But not JUST cross strings. We magnified our "looking lens" to see that we actually need to cross down a string while at the tip of our bow. Therefore, the next step of practice was to simply rock our bows from A to D at the tip of our bow without making a sound but merely feeling and watching the contact point of our bow touch first the A-string, then the D-string.

All in all, adding a step in practice is a series of fallings. Getting back up, & slowly teaching yourself what the true next step of practice is after falling on the ground. Kinda like life, huh? Interesting... ;-)