Friday, October 17, 2008

orchestra practice

Yesterday was the first practice for my church orchestra.  I was wondering who would show up and it turned out to be a diverse group. 
  • 3 cellos
  • 3 violins
  • 2 violas
  • 1 oboe/english horn
  • 1 flute
  • 3 clarinets 
  • 2 alto saxes
We actually sounded OK and I was more or less able to keep up/play in time with everyone.  The director is our church's choral director but she did a great job mixing and matching sections of the different pieces.   I was mighty pleased since I haven't played in an orchestra since junior high.  One of the other cellists even asked me if I wanted to get together and work on duets.  I am so jazzed.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

subtle reminders

I was in Chicago on Tuesday and I stayed at the Kimpton Allegro.  Lo and behold there was a picture of what looks like an x-ray of a cello in my room!  Just another reminder to get may butt in gear with the Prakticello build.
I've found a tail piece on ebay so far, and I'm looking for a neck and fingerboard.  Finding a source for spruce is turning out more elusive.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Building a Prakticello: The Plans Arrive

This is a departure from my cheesy java bits, but I'm building a Prakticello; so this will be a build log of sorts. 
I travel a bit and I really miss cello practice when I'm out of town. I thought about getting a silent or electric cello but none of them seem to be overhead compartment friendly except the Ned Steinberger electric cellos. The NS cellos look awesome, and in my imaginary world I can see myself playing Bjork or the Clash's "Straight to hell" and becoming a rock star cellist. But I bought a cello over the summer, so I'm just not ready to plunk down $2K for another instrument. Once again cheapness (or more kindly, thrift) crushes my dreams. Another mitigating factor is that I joined the Christmas orchestra at my church. While the pieces are not particularly difficult, most of the songs are in F major and I'm still kinda banging around C major in the Suzuki 2 pieces.  Yeah, I know I should practice my scales more often. Anyway, I don't want to sound like an ass because my extension sucks. I ordered a set of plans from the inventor of the Prakticello, Mr. Ernest Nussbaum. The plans were written circa 1985 and they have the sort of charm of plans ordered from the back of Popular Mechanics. The plans are hand drawn (as opposed to be done in a CAD package) and the hand lettering is charming, not Leroy lettering but you can see faint lines drawn in to guide the lettering. The plans come with a 22 page instruction manual written in a Courier font adding a typewritten charm. You can imagine Mr Nussbaum banging away on an IBM Selectric. The plans are actually for a Traviola, which is the electrified version of the Prakticello. They contain the build of materials and general instructions which include building a small amp. For my purposes, I'll stick to the silent cello build for now. There are a couple of photos of the Prakticello in the manual and the website, but they really don't do the Prakticello justice. I found these pics on a discussion board: