The road to mastery is long and difficult, but fun!
Music has always been my favorite hobby, and since my childhood, I have played various instruments, like the guitar, the piano, the recorder, and the ukulele. I find all these instruments lovely and I still love them all. If, however, I were to choose a favorite instrument, I would definitely choose the instrument that I am currently practicing — the cello.
Yes, I do love the cello very much. Every time someone asks me about my cello playing, I carefully choose words and answer that I love only my wife more than my cello. I am even prepared to devote every moment of my free time to the practice of my cello–with the exception of the time that my significant other quite legitimately requests of me!
The first and most obvious reason for my devotion to cello is its beautiful sound: the sound is deep and soul-moving, with infinite variety in nuances and texture; its sound is sometimes soft, mellow and soothing; it can sometimes be sharp, energetic and even violent. In short, the cello can express any emotion and sing any song. There is, however, another reason why I love the cello, and it is because of how difficult it is to master. This might sound strange, but I love the cello all the more for its difficulty and the rewards that difficulty brings about that result when I am able to overcome the challenges and produce beautiful music.
What are the difficulties in cello playing? First, it is the use of your left hand, and second, the use of your right hand. Thank God we only have two hands! The difficulty with your left hand is simply associated with hitting the “right spot.” This is because a cellist is not given any reliable clues to the correct pitch, such is found with the frets on the guitar. All there is that you can depend on for correct pitch is the kinetic feeling of your body; the positions and shapes of your shoulder, elbow, wrist, and fingers of the left-hand side of your body, that are, as a whole, linked one-to-one to the exact pitch of the tone you are producing.
Thus, the left hand is hard enough, but the right hand, or the use of the bow, is even harder. Simply placing the bow on the string and pushing or pulling the bow sideways does not let you produce the sound that people expect from the cello. A cellist should master subtle skills to start the tone, to maintain it and to stop it exactly as he wishes. In other words, he has to learn to produce such sounds that meet whatever demands that he (or his teacher!) may have for varying articulations, phrasing, and volume.
These difficulties are in fact the very source of enjoyment in my cello playing. The more I practice, the more I become aware of the subtleties that I need to develop to be a good player. The more subtitles I become aware of, the more I feel that my mental as well as physical sensitivity is improved. In sum, cello practice allows me to explore the possibility and abilities that lie untapped in me.
Whenever I hear a cello virtuosi playing, I have a sense of desperation, as I realize how far and difficult my road to the mastery of cello playing is going to be. But I do not care. I will enjoy practicing the cello for the sake of producing music within my capacity, and for the sake of exploring my inner possibilities. “The greater the difficulty, the greater the joy from it will be.”-This is my firm conviction about my cello playing, my second biggest delight in my life.
Having said this, I am now starting to wonder whether this conviction applies to my first and biggest delight in my life: my marriage. Indeed, marriage is a difficult undertaking – with my wife being a never failing source of ordeal and challenge for me — but am I getting as great a joy as I am supposed to get? Well, I will have to think about it….
Here are our reasons:
- The piece is well-organized. He moves from one idea to the next in a logical manner. That is, he moves from sentence to sentence and from paragraph to paragraph.
- The pieces shows his affection for the cello. He doesn’t simply say that he likes the cello. He shows us that he likes the cello.
- The vocabulary is varied and interesting. I like how he writes: “varying articulations, phrasing, and volume.” Here’s another example of skilled vocabulary use. Mr. Kato doesn’t simply write, “I’m getting better at playing the cello.” More expressively, he writes: “I feel that my mental as well as physical sensitivity is improved.”
- Mr. Kato writes with humor. We know that feelings for a spouse and feelings for music, although strong, are quite different. We know that Mr. Kato is in a sense teasing us. He uses humor with skill and feeling.
- Mr. Kato explains in detail. His discussion of the right and the left hands is quite skilled. He describes and helps me to better understand the cello.
- Even though we have never met Mr. Kato in person, through his writing we begin to feel that we know him. He shows us who he is when he writes about his affection for the cello and his love for his wife.