Wednesday, October 31, 2007

August Rush

Another actor has learned the cello for a movie. In August Rush, a guitarist and cellist enjoy a night of passion, but the cellist is forced by her father to give up her baby. He grows up in an orphanage (what year is this?), but is eventually cared for by Robin Williams, who names him August Rush (why, I don't know). The boy is musically gifted, hears music everywhere, favors the guitar (August Rush is probably a good name for a rock guitarist), and wants to find his birth parents. Keri Russell plays Lyla, the cellist, and Jonathan Rhys Myers plays the guitarist.

Here's a quote from the article linked to above:
For some background, note that Lyla's instrument in the script was a violin, but they decided cello was more cinematic. Russell learned to play in 12 weeks.
Interesting about the instrument change, especially because, in the movie The Soloist, a solo cello does not seem to be sufficient, and the cellist in the book becomes a violinist/cellist in the movie. In the photo above, you can see she is much sexier than the violinist. I don't know what Russell learned about the cello in 12 weeks.

Here's an excerpt from an interview with Keri Russell (who in real life had a baby this year, named River):
Did you have to learn to play the cello for the role?
Yes, I did. I had a wonderful cello teacher and they're very difficult pieces I had to play in the movie: Bach and Elgar. I took maybe, like, a year of piano when I was 9 and faked my way through folk songs. I've never played anything this hard.

Couldn't they have just used special effects?
Thank you! That's what I said! The cello is not a simple instrument, but I do think that having a respect and appreciation for it aided my cause with the character. I do find it to be a very beautiful instrument. The sound the cello makes, the reason it's such an emotional instrument, is that it's tone is the closest sound to the human voice.
The first article seems to indicate that Jen Kuhn does the actual cello playing in the movie (she is credited as playing the soloist with the NY Philharmonic and she bears a ressemblance to Russell). According to Jen Kuhn's MySpace page, she recently also "guest starred on the TV show Boston Legal, playing a mute woman who gives her testimony by "speaking" through her cello." Wow, I can barely indicate the basic emotions with my cello, let alone legal testimony. I missed that show of course. What I need is a special TV Guide for Cellists, listing those shows in which a cellist appears.

In any case, the movie opens on November 21. I will have to take a little time off from novel writing and blogging to see it.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

NaNo/Blo Fun

Love this notion--posting until the Internet explodes! I am participating in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month) this November, only a day or so away. Why? It just sounds like fun. I enjoy writing and find the social pressures of group writing motivating. Doing this as part of a national and international effort makes writing a novel sound less unrealistic and persistently blogging every day, no matter what, less irrational.

There is already a mini-cellobloggers on NaBloPoMo, thanks to Gottagopractice.

I'm also considering my own add-ons: NaCePraMo (National Cello Practice Month) (practice every day); and NaExOcMo (National Exercise Occasionally Month), the latter because, until this morning, I hadn't been to the gym since July. I'm not saying every day for this one: two or three times a week would be a good start for me. Maybe this is really the most important one--I felt great after my session today, though I did tumble off into a nap shortly afterward.

If you are a more creative musician than I am, you can participate in NaSoAlMo (National Solo Album Month), in which you write and record an entire album in a month. Maybe next year, if my novel does not rocket to the top of the best seller list.

NaNoArtMo, (National Novelist Art Month, though you don' t have to be a novelist to participate) in January, sounds more doable. You only have to create 10 art projects in ten different media in a month and do an "artist date" every week (I don't know what that is). I could only find a link to NaNoArtMo 2007, so don't know if there is a 2008 effort.

If none of these appeal to you, you can always invent your own. Or not. :-)

Monday, October 29, 2007

Sunday's Performances

Yesterday was a busy day.

In the morning, from about 9:30 to 11:30, the fiddlers played along the route of the Cape Cod Marathon, to encourage the runners on. In the photo, you can see my chair and cello (I used my old cello for this event because it was cold and I wanted to make sure nothing happened to my good cello before the afternoon concert). The runner at the far right is applauding our efforts, as many of the runners did.

Long ago, I used to run what was then called the Bonne Bell women's 10K in Boston, and it was energizing to run past MIT dorms, in particular, because the students would play loud rock music on their radios for us. I hope the fiddle music helped yesterday's runners. There were several other musical groups along yesterday's route. Too bad there are no college dorms.

Another cello blogger (CelloGirl) wrote recently about the good players sitting toward the front in an orchestra, and it is kind of the same with the fiddlers. Although there is no "assigned seating" in fiddling, some of us who doubt our playing ability tend to stand or sit in the back. This can be awkward for me when most of the others are standing. A couple of times, a fiddler stepped, obliviously, on my end pin, and I had to pull my cello to safety. Toward the end of the two-hour gig, though, we took a little break and when we reassembled, the rest of the fiddlers stood behind the cello. What an improvement for me! I could hear so much better and it is possible I played better. And I didn't have to fear for the safety of my cello. I am going to have to try this deliberately sometime.

For our efforts, we received official Cape Cod Marathon Volunteer jackets. Very nice jackets! The marathon was sponsored by Dunkin' Donuts. Much better to have the jacket than the donuts.

To keep my hands warm I wore some polar fleece practice gloves (Wristies) that I bought at the violin shop where I work occasionally. They kept most of my hand warm. The fingers were still a little cool, but it was a great improvement over playing with bare hands. (Nice for typing in an unheated room, too.)

My Wristie (also demonstrating that the leaves are still green here, in late October).

After the marathon, I raced home to change clothes from fiddler blue and purple to church-appropriate black, switch cellos, and grab my music. I got to the church in time for their pre-concert potluck lunch. Good thing, too, as I was hungry.

The concert started at 1 pm and lasted about an hour. My early music group played in most of the pieces, either as an instrumental group with the organist, or supporting the choir. I played both cello and flute. The choir sang a few hymns on their own, so we did have an occasional break. I felt I played the Corelli sonata well (the one I had been focusing on), all things considered, but there were a few flubs in this piece, probably caused by not rehearsing enough with the organist. Someone did come up to me afterward and say, "You were really good." (I take the you to mean our instrumental group, rather than me alone.) So, some level of success here. We (the early music group) will keep these pieces in our repertoire and continue to improve them. Our final piece went very well, ending on a happy note.

I have no photos of our church concert, but it was videotaped for local cable access television. It might be a good idea for us to watch it, though that will take a bit of courage.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Seven Things

I was tagged by Paulette, so will entertain you with Seven Things about myself (that I have not already mentioned on this blog) in no particular order.

1. Most of my day is spent sitting in front of this computer, working, and finding ways to distract myself from working. Sometimes I play Sims 2. It tends to be addicting. I used to play it with my kids. My son would play so sincerely, directing his little character to clean up the house before racing off to work. I thought it was very sad. :-) Later, after he learned the money cheat, he just built huge well-designed and beautifully furnished houses, and his characters played the piano all day long, rather than go to work. My daughter, created little families. One day her family (Britney Spears and Sting, with their two children Dindle and Dorkle), were trapped in a house fire, set off when the two kids set off firecrackers in their bedroom. I stayed up until 4 am to save the family. My characters (named after various types of candy and flowers, e.g., Tulip Truffle) lived in awkwardly furnished hovels and had a constant stream of mostly clandestine affairs and too many children.

2. When I was young, I felt art and music were frivolous and dedicated myself to saving the world. I have degrees in international relations and urban planning, worked with on a reservation with VISTA, as an energy program manager, a community development planner, a neighborhood planner, and environmental planner. Somewhere along the way I changed my mind about music and art, of course.

3. I won the freshman term paper award in college. As I was standing on the stage, receiving my award, my honors English teacher walked up to me. He was not a fan of my writing, having given me a D- on my first paper. I expected a kind word, since here I was, being acknowledged as the best writer in the freshman class. He leaned over and said, "This is not for your writing ability." Some teachers do not seem to understand their mission.

4. When I was about 22, I went to England with the intention of moving there. I found this country very materialistic, and I had a friend from Scotland. I visited relatives in Ireland. I interviewed for a job or two, but did not hear back from anyone. I returned home in about six weeks. It seemed so much harder to live in England. Everything was more expensive, and salaries seemed lower than in the U.S. I felt a bit materialistic, returning home.

5. I used to be very active in my various professional associations. After a while I noticed that what I looked forward to most about the annual meetings was getting together with other amateur musicians, both singers and instrumentalists. That's when I decided to forgo the annual conventions and attend music camp in the summertime. (I bring work with me to music camp, so it seems an appropriate turnabout.)

6. For a period of two or two and a half years, when my kids were in 4th-8th grade, I produced a children's television show on cable access TV. My NaNoWriMo novel is based on this experience. It is called For the Children, in an ironic sense.

7. I would get more work done if I blogged less. :-)

You are supposed to tag seven people, but since Paulette only tagged four, I will do the same. You may tag as many or a few as you like!

CelloDonna, a cellist who started as an adult, and who loves to play in community orchestra.
Marisa, another late-starting cellist, who enjoys traveling and has returned to college.
CelloGeek, another cellist who travels a lot, but manages to find time to enjoy ensemble playing too.
Nicole, a fiddler, currently in graduate school and building a wooden sea kayak in her spare time.

Ensemble practice, and a birthday

What a glorious day of practicing yesterday was! I practiced a bit in the morning, Then my early music group meet at noon for a coaching session with my cello teacher. We are playing Corelli Sonata no. 1, Op. 4, for 2 violins, cello, and keyboard on two upcoming occasions. The first is this Sunday at a fundraising concert for a church, where keyboard will be played by an organist, and the second will be my cello recital, in which our second violin player will switch to harpsichord, and the second violin part will be played by a flutist. Thankfully, I am playing cello both times.

This piece has a interesting, fun-to-play, cello part, with just the right amount of challenge so that, if I practiced diligently, I could play it well. Unfortunately, I have not really had the time to solidify all the fingerings and bowings, and the intonation is shaky, in some parts more than others. So, I will play it on Sunday, in perhaps imperfect form, and "perfect" it for my recital.

The coached session was wonderful. My teacher gave us all lots of good advice and encouragement, and we are all sounding better. She was energetic and enthusiastic, and we were all receptive and responsive. We really should do this more often.

In the evening we met up again for our regular Thursday rehearsal, this time with the organist. I missed the vibrant coaching element, but we did well, and I am getting almost all the appropriate fingerings now. We are playing three instrumental pieces at Sunday's concert, and accompanying the choir on five or six hymns. (This is at 1 pm, after my fiddle group plays along the route of the Cape Cod Marathon from 9:30 to 11:30 am. Another music-filled day.)

After the evening rehearsal, my husband and I took our daughter out for dinner to celebrate her 19th birthday, even though she had already gone out to dinner with friends. She took home most of both meals, so should eat well for a day or two. A lovely day of music, friends, and family.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Celery Success

Last night in drawing class we finished up our vegetable still life drawings and presented them to the class. I mentioned my little celery obsession of the past week, and the class responded by saying, "You can really tell that is celery!"

I do want to thank Marisa for her little celery sketch, which made it look so easy.

In a moment of celery fascination, I named my hometown setting "East Celery" in my NaNoWriMo novel. (It's a humorous novel, hopefully.)

Next week we are to bring in personal photos to draw from. I will bring cello photos. I want to draw both a realistic cello and an impressionist one, being played with joy and expression. Marisa (and anyone else), please feel free to draw cellos too. There is apparently a great demand for cello drawings: according to SiteMeter, many of my recent visitors come looking for cello drawings.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Classical Music, Alex Ross, and Jamie Foxx

In the October 22 issue of the New Yorker, Alex Ross writes about classical music on the Internet: blogs, information, audio files, and such, concluding that the Internet helps promote classical music. (His definition of classical music includes all that modern stuff).

Ross's blog, The Rest is Noise, looks interesting, though I have not have time to read much yet. There was a reference Jamie Foxx, who played Ray Charles in the movie, Ray (a movie I have been meaning to see, but have not yet found the time for). Foxx is going to be a cellist in his next movie. Here is a snippet from the article Ross linked to in the Daily Record (U.K.)

His interest in ladies is one of the reasons why he's working hard on his new challenge, learning violin and cello for his next film, The Soloist, where he plays a homeless schizophrenic who plays classical cello and violin brilliantly on the streets of LA.

And when the Record arrived at Jamie's hotel, so did a courier with a cello for Mr Foxx to practise on after our interview.

"The guy who shows up to show me how to play the cello is nothing like what I expected," says Jamie. "I thought it would be a stiff guy. But my guy is like a Ninja cellist. He's a really fit, goodlooking Asian dude, and he comes to my place with his cello strapped to his back. The first time he came, there were some ladies at my place when he started to play, they just went all dreamy over him. They were fascinated and when I saw how impressed they were, I thought: 'Oh, my God, I got to learn to play the cello!' "

Whatever it takes! I will definitely make time to see this movie, and maybe even take a look at Ray first. (I thought I read this book, but I don't remember the "homeless schizophrenic who plays classical cello and violin brilliantly on the streets of LA" part. Perhaps I am thinking of another book? Perhaps the storyline has been changed?

Monday, October 22, 2007

Eleven to Two

I haven't watched much of the Cleveland/Boston playoffs, but it was an exciting series, with all those lop-sided scores and the Red Sox's big come-from-behind win. (For those too busy practicing to watch the game, the Sox won the first one, and the Indians won the next 3 games. The final game was last night, and the Red Sox won 11-2.)

My daughter left about 7 pm last night to drive a friend back to UMass/Amherst. They stopped in Boston on the way to see another college friend. I called her about midnight to see if they had made it safely to western Mass.

"We're just leaving Boston," she said, and, as if to confirm their location, someone shouted something about Huntington Avenue.

Oh, no, I thought, they're right near Fenway Park and they will never get out of Boston, with all that traffic. They did, though, and she called me at 3:40 am to tell me they were safely on campus. "Luckily" I was up until 6 am myself, finishing up a project due a week and a half ago. I am running a little late....

When she got back home today, she gave me a few more details. They deliberately went to hang out around Fenway Park during the game; it wasn't just that they were lost finding their way out of Boston. They had a good time though, and even saw a homerun ball hit out of the park. (I felt a little guilty, not even bothering to flip on the tv.)

I worked in Boston for twelve years. It's a great city, but I just couldn't understand why anyone would subject themselves to all that traffic congestion! Oh, I guess for the fun of it. Maybe I will at least watch a little of the World Series.

Isn't it funny how, when "your team" wins, you feel good, even partly responsible, even if you didn't really watch the games?

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Eight Female Fiddlers

The women's fiddle group met for the first time today. There were eight of us, two fiddle players, two mandolin players, a guitarist, a tin whistler, a bodhran player, and me, on cello. The idea behind the group is that the women want to spend a little more time learning tunes and sometimes feel intimidated by the male players, who tend to play faster and louder. I enjoyed the women's group. It looks like it will be an opportunity to learn new tunes together and work out problems people might have with various tunes, in a friendly, low-key way. We remain part of the larger group; it is just an extra practice and learning session.

I brought three tunes from Scottish fiddle camp for people to learn, and they were well-received. I have been wanting to play these tunes with others, as they are more cello-friendly than some of the fiddle tunes. The fiddlers struggled a bit with the one in F major, but I think we can do it. We will meet twice a month, which seems doable. The only drawback is that I can hear the cello much when I play with this smaller group. I am going to have to practice more.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Ten Tunes

Cello-eye view of Coonamessett farm, where we performed outside last evening.
Click to see better pumpkins.

At a recent fiddle session, one of the fiddlers admitted that, though he knew a lot of tunes, he did not know a lot of tunes well. He could play them in a group, supported by the other musicians, but sometimes had trouble with them on his own. So, he decided to learn ten tunes, really well. He learns all tunes by ear, as he does not read music or even know the names of the notes he is playing. But he is doing a good job with his ten tunes.

This seems like a reasonable strategy. I know a lot of fiddle tunes in a half-baked way: tunes I initially learned on the fiddle that I haven't really worked out on the cello; tunes I had memorized at one time, but keep forgetting; tunes I can play reasonably well at home, but not fast enough for the group. Tunes I fall apart in the middle of, for one reason or other. (This does not seem to be too uncommon--people agreed that the group sound is more than the sum of its parts and tends to make up for the inadequacies of the individual players.)

My first list of ten tunes to learn really well had more than twenty tunes on it. I eliminated the ones I know reasonably well and the ones that I need to rewrite for cello-friendliness, and just limited it to tunes my fiddle group plays with some frequently:

Over the Waterfall
Road to Lisdoonvarna
Spotted Pony
Jessica's Waltz
Westphalia Waltz
Golden Slippers
Two-Dollar Bill
Red-Haired Boy
Girl I Left Behind Me

Then I added five Scottish tunes that I hope to add to the group's repertoire.
Da Old Rocking Chair
Wagonwheel notch
Crossing to Ireland
Sister Jean

Forty Cellists

Of the 42,000 writers who have thus far signed up for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMO) and filled in a personal profile, 40 people list cello playing as one of their non-noveling interests. Some of them also blog, but I haven't gone through the list yet to see if any of them are bloggers who blog about the cello. Of the few profiles I have looked at, many are teenagers. Wish I had started my novel-writing and cello-playing when I was a teen!

There are only 13 people listing fiddle or fiddling as an interest. 98 people list flute, and there are 150 violinists. 721 people paint, and 1,920 people draw.

Last year there were 79,000 nano participants so I am guessing a lot of people will be signing up this week, including, probably, another 40 cellists. Cool.

Looking at my blog, you'd think all I did this week was celery-related, but it was in fact a very music-filled week: two cello lessons, an early music rehearsal, two church concert rehearsals, a fiddle session, and, tonight, a fiddle performance. Tomorrow is the first gathering of a new group of women fiddlers, so I am going to have to go to that too.

Meanwhile, I have yet another project to finish up, so will get back to work for now.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

More Celery

For those of you who want to draw celery (and who wouldn't?), here are my celery photos. The first is the difficult-to-draw foreshortened view, the second is how our brain perceives, and wants to draw, this celery, and the third is what happens to celery after a grueling photo shoot.

I am sure there is an analogy that can be made to practicing the cello, but I will leave that to your fertile imaginations.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


I had a hard time tonight with celery. . . in art class. We had to draw a still life with vegetables, one of which was celery. From where I was sitting, it was foreshortened, and I had a really hard time making it look like anything. I must have drawn and erased the whole picture several times, and it still doesn't look like much. Besides the frustration of drawing it, the celery insisted on smelling like celery for the whole two-hour class. And I was hungry, so it smelled very good, though I know celery is not everyone's idea of a delicacy.

I bought some celery on the way home, mainly to photograph it from various angles so I can figure out how to draw it. After I finish my current work project, of course, which is almost at an end.

Meanwhile, in the band classroom next door to the art room at the junior high where I am taking the drawing course, there is a flute student who plays for the first half of our class every week. After the first tentative scales of the first week, she is progressing nicely and quite rapidly, playing Bach minuets this week. Would that one could make such quick progress on the cello!

I am making progress on the Corelli sonata we will be playing on October 28. My teacher gave me some excellent fingerings, and lots of encouragement, and soon I will have more time to practice.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Encouraging thoughts on cello progress

I've been reading The Spanish Bow (Romano-Lax), though am not too far into it yet. The main character does not begin studying the cello until the age of 14 (almost an adult beginner!), and, at the point where I am now, he is 16, and discouraged:
"The more I played, the less happy I felt with my playing. My ear was improving faster than my hands, my expectations rising ahead of my abilities. It was not pleasant to spend so many hours along [practicing]."
At this point he is practicing 10-12 hours a day and still not happy with his sound. Eventually, of course, his sound improves. Mine will too. It's just that I have the same problem with my ear and expectations. Back to practicing.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Finer things of life

Our basic drawing class homework last week was to draw a scene from home, a corner of your desk, or part of a kitchen counter. I looked around and decided every surface of my home was too cluttered to make any sort of drawing, so I composed this still life with flute. It's hard to compose a still life with cello.

It is an unfinished rough sketch which still needs lots of work, so I am not including it here as evidence of my drawing talent or lack thereof. What was interesting was my teacher's reaction. I figured she might comment on the lovely range of values (darks and lights), which was the point of the exercise, or the nice angle of the flute. What she said, when she showed the drawing to the class, was that it was a nice expression of the finer things in life: wine, flowers, and, she said, looking at me, musical talent. I beamed, not about my own talent, such as it is, but about the concept of musical talent being one of the finer things of life (the playing music, not just the listening to it, certainly another fine thing).

(She left out the apples, which, possibly, she didn't recognize them as apples; or perhaps she, too, had too many apples one year.)

I was interested in trying to make the flute shiny, which I didn't quite achieve here. It would be hard to play a flute this lumpy. Perhaps it would have helped if I hadn't left my homework until the last minute.

I don't actually drink wine when I practice, but what's a still life without a bottle of wine?

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Musical medicine

I've been feeling under the weather the last couple of days. It is probably related to my daughter's weekend adventure. She went out to western Massachusetts to visit some college friends, and they went apple-picking. My daughter came home with a half-bushel of tart apples. That's a lot of apples. So, I think I ate too many apples. An apple a day keeps the doctor away, but two or three a day...not so much.

I didn't practice much the last couple of days due to the apple-induced queasiness, and, when I did practice, I just sounded awful. I went to church concert rehearsal tonight, full of excuses and apologies. As we played, though, and the music enveloped me, I gradually felt stronger. The other instruments seemed to make my cello sound good, and I played better than I had at home. There remains one tricky part that I have to work on, but we still have a couple of weeks and another couple of rehearsals, so all should be well, so long as we all stay healthy.

So, back to the apples. We made an apple pie, but there are still numerous apples remaining. Tomorrow, we'll make applesauce, which is, coincidentally, part of the BRAT (bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast) bland diet. Kind of like the hair of the dog that bit you.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007


I have never written an entire short story, but I have decided to write a novel in November. I am participating in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) this year. Participants are expected to write a novel (50,000 words) in a month (1,666 2/3 words per day, according to the NaNoWriMo web site). It doesn't have to be great literature, and no one will actually read it unless you want them to. The idea is to just encourage people to write, to dispel that starting-at-a-blank-computer-screen writer's block, and get going. Your efforts may be sheer drivel, but out of that drivel, the organizers say, will come some good things, maybe even some good writing. You're not supposed to edit as you go, just write, ignoring your inner critic, and (finally) produce that novel you've always wanted to write, or at least a portion of it. (You edit in December or January.) The social support and pressure of thousands of people around the world doing this at the same time is supposed to encourage and sustain you. There are online and local support groups, tips and suggestions, and a guidebook, No Plot, No Problem! A plot is helpful though.

NaNoWriMo began in 1999 with 21 participants. Last year there were 79,000, with 13,000 finishing 50,000 words by the end of the month.

You're supposed to tell everyone you know that you are participating. According to NaNoWriMo:
Tell everyone you know that you're writing a novel in November. This will pay big dividends in Week Two, when the only thing keeping you from quitting is the fear of looking pathetic in front of all the people who've had to hear about your novel for the past month. Seriously. Email them now about your awesome new book. The looming specter of personal humiliation is a very reliable muse.
So, I'm telling you about my novel. It will (probably, maybe, possibly) be about a woman in her 50s or 60s, who reinvents herself several times (not necessarily successfully) as she ages and about the other people, mostly women, who influence her. A friend referred to this, in a kindly way, as a "menopause novel," and it probably is. My concept is, of course, somewhat autobiographical, drawing on my life, my mother's life, several relatives and friends, people like Elizabeth Layton, and a dreadful woman who entered my life 10 or 11 years ago, just about a year before she died, suddenly, of ovarian cancer. We collided, and I kind of ricocheted off her in an ultimately positive way. There will be cellos in my novel, of course, and chamber music groups, artists, and someone who owns a restaurant. It will probably take place on Cape Cod because I like Cape Cod-based fiction and so that, should I ever finish it, there will be a spot for it on local bookstore shelves. I'll probably write in first person, perhaps from several different characters' points of view. It won't be a memoir; it will be fiction, just loosely based on my experiences, so that I can veer off and climb Mount Everest or actually master the cello in my novel, if I choose to.

Write what you know, they say. Or, better, write the novel you want to read. My novel could easily change change direction completely, of course. Fictional characters do have a way of going off in their own directions.

I do not intend to blog the novel as I write; I am quite sure it will need significant editing before it sees the light of day. I don't really expect to reach 150,000 words either. Even though I tend toward long, verbose posts, 1,666 and 2/3 words every day are a lot of words, and I am already a little overextended. But this is something I have always wanted to do. I do spend a bit of time on the Internet; perhaps I can convert that time into a novel-like substance.

As required, I will not begin writing the novel in advance of the November 1 start date, but I have, as recommended, started jotting down some notes and trying to figure out a plot and define some characters.

Mostly, though, I am reading other people's novels for inspiration. I just finished George Hagen's
The Laments and starting Andromeda Romano-Lax's (what a name!) novel inspired by Casals: The Spanish Bow. One of these days I would like to write a novel based on an historical figure in music. I loved Marrying Mozart, for instance. But I don't think NaNoWriMo is the time for that. An historical novel requires at least a little time for research.

Oh, and I also signed up for NaBloPoMo, National Blog Posting Month. All you have to do is post to your blog every day in November. This one I'm sure I can do. I don't think there are any length or content rules. I have looked at the blogs of random participants, and they seem to be bloggers serious about their content, not people who would post "I blogged today!" and call it a post. There are various self-identified subgroupings of bloggers. I joined the one for people doing both NaNoWriMo and NaBloPoMo, though I don't think anyone in this group will have much time for posting there. There is another group dedicated to commenting on other participant's blogs. There is a music group, but it seems to be for those who like to embed or link to music clips, rather than create it.

This particular post is over 900 words. Maybe it won't be impossible to write 1,666 and 2/3 words a day--at least once or twice.

Monday, October 8, 2007


I slept until 11:30 am again today, second Monday in a row. I was up to 4:30 am working on a deadline, but allowing liberal amounts of time for making JibJab "Starring You" movies for dear friends and my for sister, whose birthday it is today. Happy Birthday, Diana!

At least I did not miss cello lesson again today, as I did last week. There is no cello lesson today due to the Columbus Day holiday. I've been taking it easy--it is good to take a break now and then, even if the work piles up while you meander.

I took a little extra time to practice the cello today, writing in some fingering for the church concert pieces. Until today, I had only sightread the pieces twice with the group, but hadn't found time to practice them at home. We have a rehearsal at the church on Thursday, and I am hoping to be reasonably prepared. Amazing how much a little advance figuring out of fingering helps.

Thanks to my friend Carol, who alerted me to its presence at the library, I have started reading The Spanish Bow by Andromeda Romano-Lax, a novel inspired by the life of Pablo Casals. If you read the message boards, you probably know that Casals' autobiography/biography, Joys and Sorrows, is available to read online. I think The Spanish Bow is only inspired by Casals, not intended to be an historical novel, but it will be interesting to compare the two.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

October Beach

Though it was sunny and bright in town, it was grey and foggy on the beach. I crept as close as I could to these cormorants.

Just a little too close for their comfort!

One remained, fearless or oblivious.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Elizabeth Layton

I love this self-portrait by Elizabeth Layton, drawing herself drawing herself. She took up drawing, specifically contour drawing, at the age of 68 to find relief from years of severe depression. It worked for her and her drawings were widely exhibited, bringing help to many others. I came across one of her self-portraits in Betty Edwards, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, which is the text for my drawing class.

For more drawings by Elizabeth Layton, who died in 1993 at the age of 83, see the Elizabeth Layton website. Many of her drawings depicted the sorrows and challenges of old age, but still there is joyfulness and celebration in them.

I'm into art therapy too. And music therapy.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

An even better place to draw online

I haven't actually completed any drawings on, but it looks like it has more drawing tools and options than Sketchfu. I'll try to draw something later. :-)

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Three Concerts

I have been overwhelmed with work lately, and have not had as much time as I would like for practicing, especially considering I have three concerts looming in the near future.

On October 28, several members of the early music group (Fritz, Laura, and I) will play with our friend Marion, an organist, at her church as part of a concert to raise money for organ repairs. Laura plays violin, beautifully. Fritz plays many instruments, but will be confined to violin and viola for this concert. :-) We'll have three instrumental pieces (currently, we think they will be sonatas by Boismortier, Corelli, and Falconiero). I'll play flute in the Boismortier piece and cello in the other two. I will also play flute to accompany the choir for "Shall We Gather at the River," and with Fritz and Laura on another five hymns. The music is all quite playable, but I want to play it well. This is, after all, a fundraiser!

On November 4, the flute choir plans to play for the nursing home which so generously gives us a space to rehearse every week. I may play cello on one piece (Joplin's "The Entertainer"), but so far I've been doubling the first flute, too lazy to haul my cello to flute choir rehearsal for only one piece. The rest of the pieces are, of course, with flute.

Finally, I'll give a recital of recent Suzuki pieces, tunes from Scottish fiddle camp, and, with members of the early music group, one or two ensemble pieces we have been working on. The audience will be small, so this is mostly a wine and cheese party, with music. The date for this is undetermined. I thought it would be in October, but I don't have another lesson until the 15th. I actually slept through my lesson this week. My teacher called, waking me at 11:30 am to ask me why I hadn't shown up at my 11 am lesson. 11:30! I have been working around the clock, but didn't realize I was that tired--to sleep through a cello lesson!

None of this is too difficult, but there is a lot of it! I'd better get back to work so I can get back to practicing.

P.S. I forgot the fiddle events! There is a bluegrass festival my fiddle group is playing in this coming Sunday. It is in Rhode Island, at least an hour from here, so I haven't decided whether to go or not, but it sounds like fun. We'll see. There is also a fiddle performance on Saturday the 13th, the Rachel Carson dinner at my church, another fundraiser, and fiddling along the path of the Cape Cod Marathon on October 28 (the morning of the other church fundraiser). I do enjoy the latter two annual events and will attend those.

Monday, October 1, 2007

My cello sketch

For anyone who may have thought that I drew the Sketchfu drawing in yesterday's post, here is an example of my own work. As I wrote yesterday, yesterday's cello was better than I could do. This is a tough medium! I'd love to see what others can do.

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