Alban's Blog

Category: Music Education

“Go home and take a shower!”

1988/89 I spent studying in Cincinnati, OH. My cello teacher turned out to be rather lame, so I focused a bit on playing quartet and taking lessons with the quartets in residence there, the LaSalle- and the Tokyo-Quartet. I had the time of my life, living together with two German guys in a one-bedroom flat, getting up every morning at 6 am to the sounds of either the beginning of Tosca or Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet, (the part, where the violins go crazy – God, I am so bad with names, I even forgot what that part is called) in order to start practicing at the practice floor of the Conservatory at 7 am.

When and why did you start playing the cello?

I was about eight and a half years old, playing with my toys in the garden, when my mother asked me, if I would like to play another instrument besides the piano, because my little sister had just begun the violin. I wasn’t too interested, but to get her out of my face, I said “Why not?”, and then she suggested the cello. Same answer. Today she says that she could have named any instrument and I would have agreed!

Do you like to practice?

As a teenager and by rather lazy nature I didn‘t like practicing too much, as a matter of fact I practically hated it. Nowadays it has beomethe greatest pleasure because it is the only time where I can really focus on just one thing. No telephone, no computer with e-mail, no so-called multi-tasking, but just the cello, me and the music. It is almost like an escape from the multiple tasks a career requires. I love to practice new pieces, and there always lays a great challenge in re-learning pieces I played already a thousand times. The more often I work on a piece intensely, the deeper I can feel it, the better I understand it and recognize performing possibilities which I hadn‘t seen before, but as everything in life, the last few percents of achieving anything hurt a lot.

What exactly is your “school project?”

In many ways I hate the word “project” and I prefer to call it at best “commitment at schools”. For my first performances in the US I was obliged to also participate in the so-called residencies program which meant nothing else but doing some pioneer work in schools, elementary as well as high-schools. At first I thought myself for too good and did it more or less reluctantly.

Missing Flights…

That hasn’t happened to me in several years: I missed my flight. In my calendar which I am always synchronizing between the cellphone and my laptop it said that I had to catch a flight at 5:52 pm leaving Newark to Spokane via Seattle. Minutes before I had to leave the apartment at 4 pm, I checked my e-mail and found a reminder from Orbitz that my flight was leaving at 5 pm on-time from JFK. I raced with the car which was waiting in front of the building to JFK just to get completely stuck in traffic and arrive 10 minutes after the departure of the flight.

Wann und warum hast Du mit dem Cello angefangen?

Ich war ungefähr achteinhalb Jahre alt und spielte gerade im Buddelkasten, als meine Mutter mich fragte, ob auch ich neben dem Klavier ein anderes Instrument erlernen wollte, da meine 3 Jahre jüngere Schwester Manon mit Geige begonnen hatte. Ich war nicht allzu interessiert, aber um sie loszuwerden, sagte ich “Warum nicht?” woraufhin sie das Cello vorschlug. Gleiche Antwort. Heute behauptet sie, sie hätte jedes Instrument vorschlagen können und ich hätte akzeptiert!

How long do you practice?

In average it’s not so much, because with all the work besides playing the cello (making phonecalls, doing some correspondences, developing homepages, checking the sportresults, traveling) on certain days there is no time whatsoever, and sometimes I manage to sit down and practice six or seven hours. I guess my average is about three hours per day. As a student I had more time and just had to practice more…

Willkommen zu Alban’s Blog

Since a while I started thinking of starting my own blog in order to get some more feedback from fellow musicians or general audiences about the way I see, feel and understand music making, the music “scene” or business as well as general things in culture. I have no idea if there is a real interest for this, but I thought I’d check it out and see what happens…