Wednesday, February 11, 2015

3 Apps That Are Helping Me Learn to Play a Musical Instrument

Last month I started cello lessons.

Even though I took a few months of fiddle lessons in late 2014, the cello has humbled and challenged me in ways I didn't think possible.

Oh how confidently I called the teacher who once taught my son to play cello! I had been playing fiddle, after all... how hard could it be to switch to cello?

For those of you who missed my earlier musings on switching to cello, I just kept having this niggling feeling I picked the wrong instrument. I enjoyed the fiddle, but ultimately I chose it for convenience -- it's small enough to include easily in my travels.

But the cello. THE CELLO. Oh, my soul! That instrument speaks to me and always has. It's sound is deeper, moodier. More me.

After the first lesson, I wasn't sure I wanted to start over again. I practiced both fiddle and cello for two weeks.

It was too much. I couldn't get the bow hold for cello -- and it kept creeping into my bow hold for fiddle. I decided to put the fiddle away for a while and solely concentrate on the cello.

After the second lesson when my instructor had to manhandle the stiffness out of my wrists and constantly rearrange my hand on the bow, I wanted to cry in frustration.

But dadgumit, I still wanted to produce a beautiful sound out of the instrument! So I kept going. I ordered a CelloPhant to aid my grip and waited in desperation for it to arrive.

When it came, I experienced instant relief. My fingers relaxed. My hand eased. I practiced bow stroke on open strings and thought maybe maybe I could do this.

When I went back for my third lesson, my instructor and I celebrated. It was a breakthrough. I was on my way.

Since then I have discovered 3 (Android) apps that make my continued learning even more awesome:

1. Gstrings Tuner: oh my goodness, with what hesitation I first tuned those strings! But the tuner helped bunches. I DID IT. All on my own! FREE

2. Mobile Metronome: No more clunky machines on the tabletop. Just tap tap, and voila! FREE

3. Smart Voice recorder: one thing I learned from learning the fiddle was that it really helps me to play WITH music. Somehow I am forced to keep going instead of constantly correcting my fingers to get the best pitch. So at my lesson, my instructor plays the songs I am supposed to play, and I record them! It's brilliant. I can incorporate that into my practice time at home. I can feel my confidence building already. FREE

And so, now 4 lessons in, I am loving ye ol' cello. Nothing quite so humbling as learning an instrument when middle-aged. Never too late!!!

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