My Year of Women Composers

https://mirandawilsoncellist.com/blog

Things I wonder about: did Fanny meekly accept her father’s pronouncement? Or did she seethe with rage at the unfairness of it?

By Miranda Wilson

I made a New Year’s Resolution today. 2019 is going to be the year that I explore, learn, perform, teach, and promote music by women composers.

I’ve always known women could be composers, because my late great-aunt, Dorothy Freed, was one of New Zealand’s first. “The grandmother of us all,” she often said proudly.

This being the case, I find it hard to explain why I haven’t actually played a lot of music by women before. My weak excuse is that I…didn’t think of it.

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Internet meme "What I Really Do." Title: Cellist. What my friends think I do: image of Yo Yo Ma. What my mom thinks I do: image of Popper's High School of Cello Playing. What the media thinks I do: movie still from August Rush. What my co-workers think I do: image of Man Ray's "Ingre's Violin." What I think I do: image of Augustus John's "Madame Suggia." What I really do: image of cello part from Pachelbel's Canon.

The Joy of Basslines (Or How I Learned to Love Pachelbel’s Canon)

By Miranda Wilson

Internet meme "What I Really Do." Title: Cellist. What my friends think I do: image of Yo Yo Ma. What my mom thinks I do: image of Popper's High School of Cello Playing. What the media thinks I do: movie still from August Rush. What my co-workers think I do: image of Man Ray's "Ingre's Violin." What I think I do: image of Augustus John's "Madame Suggia." What I really do: image of cello part from Pachelbel's Canon.
It’s impossible not to look cool when you’re a cellist 😀 

A pianist friend and I were planning a chamber recital, and had already settled on piano trios by Brahms and a modern composer. “We should have something more Classical, too,” he said. “What about Haydn…oh, wait, no, cellists never want to play Haydn piano trios.”

“What?” I said. “I love Haydn.”

“You do?” said my friend. “Cellists always frown when I say ‘Haydn piano trio.’ Or they start singing do do do do sol sol sol sol, and then they veto it.”

Continue reading “The Joy of Basslines (Or How I Learned to Love Pachelbel’s Canon)”

A Defining Trait of Great Musical Leaders

By Miranda Wilson

adjustment

Working both as a member of professional ensembles and a coach of student ensembles, I often have cause to wonder what might be the single the most important leadership quality in rehearsing and performing ensemble music. In a recent post at my book website, I argued that a good ensemble musician takes personal and group responsibility for mastering the task at hand, offers criticism constructively and accepts it graciously, and seeks to make others in the ensemble sound good.

The more I thought about this, the more I wanted to add one more thing, and I think it’s the most important one.

A great musical leader knows how to adjust to others.

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The restless cellist’s meditation

http://www.mirandawilsoncellist.com

By Miranda Wilson

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. 

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(Out of) Control: Reframing Performance and Anxiety

https://mirandawilsoncellist.com/blog

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. 

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Getting back on the horse

horse

By Miranda Wilson

I was a horse-mad teenager. Though I could never own a horse, since my family lived in the city and could neither afford nor house one, I went on horse treks an hour away every weekend. I loved everything about the horses — their appearance, their soft noses, their horsey smell — and felt utterly exhilarated when I was galloping across the countryside on one. I have always been a cautious, shy person, and riding seemed to take me out of myself. I had never felt so free, or free to be reckless.

And then one day the horse I was riding threw me.

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New tricks

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This is my old dog. He’s awesome.

By Miranda Wilson

Sixteen (!) or so years ago, when I was a student in London, I often supplemented my income from music with a few moderately well-paid temporary secretarial jobs.

I could make more money than most temps, because I had a typing speed of 116 wpm. This was faster than most people’s. I had taught myself to type using a touch-typing program that happened to be installed on a computer in my school when I was 11, and my finger dexterity from playing the cello and piano enabled me to build high speeds. Because of this, most of my jobs didn’t involve filing, photocopying, or answering phones; for the most part, it was audio typing and copy typing. The other secretaries in the offices where I worked were jealous that I could make £4 or so more an hour than they did. It wasn’t a fortune, but it paid the rent and enabled me to save enough money to live comfortably for the next three years in Texas without going into debt.

The kind of pay bumps I enjoyed largely don’t exist any more. These days no one needs a typist, because everyone does their own. If someone really can’t type, there are voice-activated software and scanners and so on. My skill that I prided myself on is now both universal and obsolete.

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Digging

There’s a particularly ghoulish scene in Chapter 28 of Emily  Brontë’s Wuthering Heights where the (unreliable?) narrator Nelly recounts the following conversation with the (possibly also unreliable?) anti-hero Heathcliff:

He turned abruptly to the fire, and continued, with what, for lack of a better word, I must call a smile: ‘I’ll tell you what I did yesterday! I got the sexton, who was digging Linton’s grave, to remove the earth off [Catherine’s] coffin lid, and I opened it. I thought, once, I would have stayed there: when I saw her face again—it is hers yet!—he had hard work to stir me; but he said it would change if the air blew on it, and so I struck one side of the coffin loose, and covered it up: not Linton’s side, damn him! I wish he’d been soldered in lead. And I bribed the sexton to pull it away when I’m laid there, and slide mine out too; I’ll have it made so: and then by the time Linton gets to us he’ll not know which is which!’

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