So it’s taken me a few days to get this up for the simple reason that I didn’t know it would hurt so much. Playing the piano doesn’t hurt. Singing doesn’t hurt. Why should playing the cello? Nor did I count on losing all feeling in the tips of the fingers of my left hand, which I engaged last week. It was so much happier in my lap, listening to my other hand fiddle around with the bow. Meantime, after sending me to the loo to chop off my nails, Samara kept saying ‘push harder’ like a midwife to a flagging mother-to-be. ‘I’m pushing, I’m pushing!’ I thought bitterly, knowing that a C-section might be in order.

As for the bow-hold issue, well-documented in my last installment, I’m pretty sure it’s as bad as ever but I have made an interesting discovery: there’s a huge cottage industry – mostly peopled by music teachers, it seems – producing a range of contraptions and gizmos aimed at sorting these and other cello challenges. My favourite was the cellophant, which – you guessed it – is an elephant-shaped grip that trains your fingers into the perfect bow hold. I haven’t got one of course, far too macho for that, but I was pretty tempted. It made me think of the Stradibearius range of shoulder pads, which I’d come across in my days in the violin world. I am starting to wonder about my wretched little frog, though. Ok, ‘wonder’ is a bit dishonest. I think ‘loath’ does much better as I’ve really begun to resent the way it gouges at my thumb, making the much-vaunted ‘relaxation’ I’m  after seem as likely as a pig flying over a blue moon.

Still, there has been some progress. For instance, on a number of occasions this week, drawing the bow across one of the strings – usually G or D, which don’t send my wrists into spasmic contortions – actually produced a sound quite similar to a bow being drawn across a string. Woohoo! Also, I derived much amusement from deciphering the arcane language in my Piatti method book which is clearly aimed at obscuring rather than clarifying. And that font, designed to look like a typewriter with ink caked around the edges of the letters because someone was too busy or too poor to fix it. ‘This is classical music,’ it screams. ‘This is serious!’

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