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Cello Thought For The Day: Little And Often

By Miranda Wilson

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.

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Cello Thought For The Day: The Best Practice

“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?

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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

mirandawilsoncellist.com

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.

Books To Read In A Pandemic

If heaven isn’t like this, I’m not going.

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.

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Zoom Updates for Musicians

What it looks like

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 New Normal? Reflections on Remote Music Lessons

By Miranda Wilson

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons (with apologies to Jacob Ochtervelt)

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.

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The Only Thing Better Than A Cello Is…

By Miranda Wilson

Image credit: Pixabay.

There’s simply nothing more fun than playing cello ensemble music. The cello’s range is vast — bigger than those of the other members of the bowed strings family — and when you get a bunch of cellists together, you can have the highest and lowest voices of an ensemble at the same time as that glorious all-cello tone.

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