This is going to be the strangest festive season ever, but nothing is going to stop us doing our holiday shopping, right? Just for a moment, let’s take our minds off pandemic gloom and think about something fun instead: gift-giving! If you’ve been wondering what to get for your cello-fanatic kid, your awesome cellist friend, your school orchestra director, or someone you know who loves classical music and the cello, look no further!Continue reading “Holiday Gifts for the Cellist in Your Life”
We all know that practice is the only way to improve. And yet, how many times have you had an avalanche of work to do and not known where to start? Maybe you simply don’t have time for that four-hour practice schedule your professor in undergrad told you was essential to career success. Maybe you’re juggling work, life, and fifty other things and finding it hard to carve out time for yourself. Maybe you feel so overwhelmed you end up not doing any of it.
It’s easy to deal with a massive to-do list when you’re having a good day, but what about all the other days when you feel sluggish, resentful, cross, sleepy, and grouchy?
That’s where “little and often” is useful.Continue reading “Cello Thought For The Day: Little And Often”
“Practice makes perfect.” (It doesn’t.)
“Practice doesn’t make perfect, practice makes permanent.” (It doesn’t.)
“Practice doesn’t make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect.”
But…if you aren’t allowed to do imperfect practice, how will you know what perfect practice is?Continue reading “Cello Thought For The Day: The Best Practice”
Today’s Cello Thought for the Day comes from my very dear teacher, Natalia Pavlutskaya. One of the very first things she said to me when I started studying with her aged 18 was this: “Good technique is the easiest way.”
What a liberating thought!Continue reading “Cello Thought For The Day: The Easiest Way”
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.)Continue reading “Cello Thought For the Day: Your Best Tempo”
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.
Last year I wrote about my resolution to make time for reading for pleasure, little imagining that very soon I would have a great deal of time for it.
The one good thing about being at home a lot (besides not having to drive anywhere) is that there seems to be more time for reading. What’s more, who doesn’t need a bit of escapism right now? In that spirit, I thought I’d write another post about what I’ve been reading.Continue reading “Books To Read In A Pandemic”
I’ve written a lot about remote teaching and Zoom, a modality I enjoy. Today I learned that the latest update includes some goodies especially for those of us who teach and learn music via Zoom. Here’s what you do:
1. Go to the Zoom website and download/install the most recent update, 5.2.2.
2. Open the Zoom app and start a new meeting. (A meeting for one, that is.)
3. Go to Audio Settings -> Advanced -> and select “High fidelity music mode.”
I’ve already noticed a big improvement. How have your experiences been?
The last time I put gas in my car was March 2, 2020. Then we went into isolation and I only drove it once every three weeks to a supermarket ten minutes from my house. I still have a quarter of a tank.
*Continue reading “What Practice is For When Music Has Stopped”
I was an early adopter of remote music teaching, so when the you-know-what hit the fan a couple of months ago, I knew I wanted to do something to help teachers who hadn’t taught using a videoconferencing platform before.
Musicians are a smart and resourceful bunch, and after a few initial freak-outs, most studio teachers I know adapted well and are now confidently teaching over Zoom, Skype, or another online platform.Continue reading “The New Normal? Reflections on Remote Music Lessons”