I had to learn 12 pieces for a special Palm Sunday service. We received the music only 10 days before the service. I buckled down, loaded the music into my iPad Pro, transferred the recordings they gave us onto my computer, then onto my ipad, then into Amazing Slow Downer so I could play along with the music. Then the task of going through the music, marking fingerings, repeats, noting dynamics, changing key signatures, changing time signatures, and generally trying to figure it all out quickly.
I felt pretty good about it when we had our one and only rehearsal one week later. Until this.
Don’t be thrown by the 6 flats. That was the least of my problems. I had practiced the rhythms. Once you get the hang of it, it just continues for about the next 100 or so measures. Or it seemed like it. What I failed to practice was going from several measures of half notes, lazily counting 1-2-3-4 and then changing to the 1/16 note pattern. It took me several measures in the rehearsal before I got the hang of that rhythm and was able to play it. Actually many more than “several”. But I learned a great lesson.
First of all, it’s great to go to rehearsals and make mistakes. This mistake was huge for me. I had practiced the rhythms, but not changing my internal pulse and my counting BEFORE I actually got to the changes. What I needed to do was to start the new rhythm internally in the half note measures before they started. When I went home after rehearsal and figured this out, it made such sense that I wondered why I hadn’t considered it before. BUT OF COURSE I was so focused on notes, fingerings, shifts, etc., etc., etc.
There are lots of things we have to do as cellists. It’s a good thing we get to rehearse, make mistakes, and then have the opportunity to work through them so we can learn for the next time.