The Teacher Goes Back to School

Extra Credit

Wednesday, June 19, 2013 - 08:00 AM

Last December, Michael Relland, an elementary school music teacher in Phoenix, resolved to perform his first public cello recital in 2013. He has selected compositions that will cover the instrument’s history in classical music.


June Update:

Choosing the music has been so confusing. After deciding to tackle an entire chronology of the cello, I quickly realized how much work that would be. Thinking like our woodworker resolutioner Ariel, it would be better to build just one bookshelf at a time!

I decided to take some cello lessons. Crazy, huh? I mean, that I could even be a cellist without taking any lessons for the last ten years. That is crazy. But I really had faith that the work I had done so far would be my own and that my perception of my own faults would sufficiently get me from Point A to Point B ("B" being my cello recital). Well, I was wrong. As a teacher, I realize the value of getting someone else's feedback. So for the past two months, I have taken a few lessons from Peter Anderegg, the Principal Cellist of our Phoenix Symphony. He helps me figure out these weird habits I have with my bow that I never knew I had, and we work out the bugs in my playing.

You know those musician biographies that start with "He was born" and jump to "...soon he was playing with the greatest names all around town"? Well, those stories skip the part where all the work happens, where one has to figure out why certain notes sound better when you curve the bow inwards instead of out, or if you slide your bow hand forward instead of up. You can't buy this kind of self-awareness. Nor rush it. It will take me until the end — the very end — of this year to do this music. I've chosen a Beethoven and a Shostakovich sonata for cello and piano, just enough challenge for me to work the whole year at it!

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