How to be a terrible, unsuccessful cellist

As a cello professor and writer, I spend a lot of my time telling people how to practise efficiently and how to maximize their chances of professional success. One of the difficulties of this, of course, is finding a way to phrase my advice that speaks to, and motivates, my target audience. I like to think of myself as a positive, optimistic sort of person, but even so, my instructions often degenerate into don’ts. In my own self-teaching in the practice room, I make a point of writing affirming instructions on my music. If I write “don’t rush,” my brain ignores the “don’t” and I find myself rushing in spite of myself. Therefore, I rephrase it as “steady” or simply write a backwards arrow, and that seems to work better.

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Music and handedness


By Miranda Wilson

While out running recently, I listened to a podcast of a BBC Woman’s Hour interview with Courtney Love. The conversation offered many insights into a fascinating life and career, but I was most struck with a passing remark about Love’s late husband Kurt Cobain’s guitar technique. The left-handed Cobain had apparently learned to play on a right-handed guitar, but did so upside down. He did this, Love explained, because he was poor and left-handed guitars were too expensive.

Why is it, I wondered, that such a thing as a left-handed guitar even exists, when such concessions aren’t made for other instruments?

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