It was a grey Thursday when I got a call from an unknown number. Listening to the voicemail, I heard that my interlibrary loan had come in. The excitement bubbled up in my throat as I got ready to head over (the library is about 3 minutes away). I have been looking for a book called "Pour Se Mettre En Doigts" by Jean Silvy for some time. Quite out of print is how I would describe it; the book is unavailable even from used sources. The Bibliothèque nationale de France informed me that they couldn't make a copy since it was still under copyright. My next try was the Free Library of Philadelphia's Interlibrary loan service, which can be amazing. I usually hear nothing from them until I get a phone call from the branch library saying a book has arrived for me. Giddy with excitement, I got the book home and opened it up to play and I discovered a short but stunning series of exercises. Silvy was apparently very aware of the time limitations cellists face; he dedicated the book to "those amateur and professional violoncellists who have just a few minutes to practice their instrument every day". At the bottom of each exercise, Silvy included a duration (for example: Durée 3 min. 40). But it is the exercises themselves that are the stars of this book. From finger agility training to scale shifting and a brilliant "interval training" exercise that takes you around the entire fingerboard, the book is a joy to play. I only wish that Silvy had been a little less "efficient" and had given us more; he clearly thought about cello technique in a unique and very special way. Please, Delrieu, bring this book back in print!
Just spent the weekend like nearly every weekend this year: rehearsing and performing. Then this afternoon, Myanna and I edited the first track to our new album. This was more fun than it used to be (Alfred Goodrich, our sound engineer at Silvertone Studios has become a good friend), but also led to some self-reflection. How can we make better use of our rehearsal time to lead to better recording takes? The first track, which I am sitting here in the dark listening to, sounds beautiful, but it was a thorny process to get there and I really want to figure out how to be more efficient next time. This happened with my first recording (The Russian Cello): I had a major re-assessment about what I needed to do to be a better recording artist after recording and editing the first track. Training and rehearsing as a performer is so much different than training and rehearsing to record. I think it's a different way of concentrating; you have to distill what makes a performance special (feeling the music, caring about each phrase, making each note come alive) and yet behind everything you play there has to be a consistency and the very deepest level of concentration. So: free and emotive playing with the highest discipline behind it. I love recording and it's almost addictive, but it's never easy.
Anyway, weekend officially over and on to rehearsing, practicing, publishing, teaching, and sleeping tomorrow (in that order!).
Cassia Harvey is a cellist, a cello teacher, and writes technique for strings.