The restless cellist’s meditation

I really wanted to like meditation. I’m the demographic that’s supposed to like it, since I’m generally a sucker for the things that go with it, including avocados, wind chimes, and motivational TED talks. But when I downloaded a meditation app on my phone, I realized that it wasn’t going to work for me.  Continue reading


(Out of) Control: Reframing Performance and Anxiety

By Miranda Wilson

You probably know Reinhold Niebuhr’s “Serenity Prayer.”

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.”

Even if you aren’t religious, it’s good advice for performers. I think about it when I’m helping students prepare for a performance.

The thing is, in performance, it’s not about the things you can change, it’s about the things you can control. 

Sometimes we have this illusory idea that performance would be perfect if only we could control every parameter of what happens. That’s not quite true. We can control some things and not others. Continue reading

You’re already doing it.

Four years ago, when I was struggling to finish my book, Cello Practice, Cello Performance, I hit a wall. There was so much to do! I had to typeset hundreds of musical figures, get all my citations right with the style guide, compose the index, and so on. It seemed utterly overwhelming.

On the phone with a friend, I wailed “I can’t do this!”

My friend replied “You’re already doing it.”

Don’t ask me why, but for some reason her point somehow made the way ahead seem clearer. Of course I could do it. I was in the middle of it, I knew how to do it, the end was in sight.

I saw a tweet this week that brought that conversation to mind.

It inspired me to be that kind of professor. So many times students will approach me with a hard concept that they think is impossible. Usually, with coaching, they leave doing it better than they did when they arrived.

Yesterday I gave one of them a post-it note with my friend’s words on it.

“You’re already doing it.”