Cello Thought For the Day: Your Best Tempo

Once, when I was a student, I brought a piece by Brahms into my lesson. It was in patchy shape because I hadn’t achieved mastery, but was trying to pretend I had. I hashed through the entire movement at breakneck speed even though there were parts I simply couldn’t play yet. (In one of those ironies I haven’t quite figured out yet, a lot of people rush in the hardest spots of a fast piece, and I’m no exception.)

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Cello Thought for the Day: Your Best Sound


Sometimes it’s tempting, especially when learning a new piece, to decide to “just play” it and worry about all those big, messy emotions of interpretative expression later.

The problem is, this two-step method is ineffective because you then have to unlearn mechanical habits in order to find your voice.

Why not let the emotion — your most passionate voice — dictate how you’re going to move your fingers from note to note and your bow from string to string? Emotion is the wellspring of meaning, not a bunch of random bowings and fingerings.

Even when you don’t have all the notes or all the bowings, you can still play with your absolute best sound. It will drive you to places your second-best sound can’t.