Ask Harry WimmerQ & A#6

I get so bored practicing.
What to do?

Q. I get so bored practicing. What can I do to make it more interesting?

A. For me, practicing is a very exciting process: it is the preparation
for the ultimate performance. It's a time for sleuthing behind the printed page, savoring melody, harmony, textures, structure, seeking a strong concept, making choices of string, fingering, bowings etc., all the time devising technical solutions to do justice to the music. With this kind of approach, there is never enough practice time and certainly no chance to get bored.

Let me show you one way to renew interest in an over-familiar piece, the
opening of the Saint-Saëns Concerto No.1 in A Minor:

Visualize it as a domestic scene between a mother and her teen-age son.
Let's make up some lyrics to this phrase:

Opening Phrase: Allegro non troppo from Cello Concerto No. 1 in a minor by Saint-Saens

MOTHER: (Impatiently stamping foot on rest):


JOHN: "I'm bus-y, I hear you !!"

This irreverent approach has several immediate benefits:

It injects some levity and humor into the practicing process.
2. It gives direction to the long line of the phrase; it highlights
the natural accents and interplay of voices.

This scene could easily be expanded (see the next music example) :

(a.) Repeat the opening phrase a bit more emphatically.
(b.) Play a more intense phrase beginning and repeating on the high "A".
Finally, portray the mother's total exasperation as she shrieks on the high "C".

Opening phrase of concerto  -  continued
With a scenario such as this in front of you, your technical practice will
be much more to the point and interesting.

  • You will never "swallow up" any of the triplet notes for lack of intensity.
  • You won't make false accents as you change bow in Meas. 2 of each phrase.
  • You'll practice a long crescendo until you reach the high "C", and much more


If you found this Q & A helpful, or for further questions and comments. e-mail Harry Wimmer

On toQ & A #7?Home

For still more topics, return to Top 10 Q & A's or to Ask Harry Wimmer.

Learn more
about the ongoing
The Joy of Cello PlayingBooks.
Order all books online

This site created and maintained by Harry Wimmer ( Thanks to Shirley Givens (
for her imaginative illustrations. Thanks to Kevin Wimmer ( for his selfless and expert assistance.
Design and content ©1999-2001 by Harry Wimmer. Artwork ©1999 by Shirley Givens.
All materials on this website are limited to personal, non-commercial use.