Couch to 5K for Cellists, Week 5: Non-Linear Progress

By Miranda Wilson

After last week’s emotional meltdown when Week 4 of C25K brought up some unpleasant memories that I’d rather forget, it was time to have a serious conversation with myself about whether I was going to keep doing this. Was I enjoying myself yet? No. Was I better at running yet? No.

So if you’re not having fun and you’re not getting good (and, to be scrupulously honest, you’re the kind of overachiever who only enjoys things they’re good at), why keep on keeping on?

Continue reading “Couch to 5K for Cellists, Week 5: Non-Linear Progress”

Couch to 5K for Cellists, Week 4: Belonging

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then: jog for 3 mins; walk 90 secs; jog 5 mins, walk 2.5 mins; jog 3 mins; walk 90 secs; jog 5 mins.

I get up early in the morning to do my C25K workouts, partly because it’s cooler then and partly because there are fewer people on the track. I do not like other people to see me exercising.


I refused to do any exercise apart from walking until I was a 24-year-old graduate student. I only began for vanity-related reasons: I had grown into my adult body and realized that it wasn’t as naturally thin as I’d thought it was.

I decided to start going to the university gym because it was free for students. It took several weeks of procrastination and agonizing even to get started. It was hard even to enter the building. My hands were shaking so much that I dropped my student ID card as I tried to swipe myself through the barrier. I was terrified and sure that everyone was staring at me, judging me, and making fun of me.

In reality, they probably weren’t. But when you feel you don’t belong, reality is irrelevant.

Continue reading “Couch to 5K for Cellists, Week 4: Belonging”

Couch to 5K for Cellists, Week 2: Permission to Be Bad

By Miranda Wilson

Image credit:
Wikimedia Commons

Last week, in “P.E. Trauma and Music Trauma,” I blogged about starting the Couch to 5K program even though I thought I couldn’t run. Doing something like C25K might not sound like a big deal to most reasonably fit adults, but it was to me because of a few adverse childhood experiences with running.

One line from the post, “It’s OK to be bad at this for a while,” struck a chord with readers. I had several lovely emails saying that this was a major “aha!” moment. Some were from former P.E.-haters, but many more were people who had been told in childhood that they “weren’t musical” or “couldn’t sing.” Some said they never fully realized how not OK this was until they read my post. One said she hadn’t been able to sing to her children because of being shamed for out-of-tune singing.

Continue reading “Couch to 5K for Cellists, Week 2: Permission to Be Bad”

P. E. Trauma and Music Trauma

By Miranda Wilson

I’m bad at just about every sport. This certainly due in part to lack of effort. In a larger part, however, it’s due to feelings of loathing for it since having unpleasant childhood experiences in P.E. classes.

I’ve read a lot about the trauma associated with physical education. In some ways it’s a relief to know that I’m not alone in my experiences. In others, it makes me sad to think that a subject with the potential to bring health, joy, and longevity often creates emotional and physical anguish instead.

I’m not saying all P.E. teachers are awful, but there are serious problems with the way P.E. is often taught.

Continue reading “P. E. Trauma and Music Trauma”

Those Who Can’t: Why the Best Teachers Aren’t Always “Talented”

By Miranda Wilson

There’s an old saying, “Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach.” Teachers love to hate this expression.

It’s obviously insultingly reductive, but sometimes I wonder if there’s something in it. Even if, like Shinichi Suzuki, you believe that talent is not inborn and that anyone can develop their ability, the fact remains that some people play music better than others. Even if you account for the quality of their teachers, instruments, and practice habits, there are people who simply pick up physical concepts more quickly than others.

You might say those people have a special kind of physical intelligence. The same kind that makes you physically coordinated, or good at sports.

Continue reading “Those Who Can’t: Why the Best Teachers Aren’t Always “Talented””

Cello Thought For the Day: It’s OK To Take a Day Off From Practice Sometimes

By Miranda Wilson

My husband and I took our instruments on our honeymoon. Yes, it’s a good thing we found each other, because I’m not sure anyone else would tolerate us.

I was that undergraduate playing scales in the practice room at two in the morning.

I was the high school student who got up at five to play the cello for two hours before school, then hurried home after school for another two.

My name is Miranda, and I’m a workaholic.

Continue reading “Cello Thought For the Day: It’s OK To Take a Day Off From Practice Sometimes”

Holiday Gifts for the Cellist in Your Life

By Miranda Wilson

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”

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.

Continue reading “Cello Thought For The Day: Little And Often”