If only there was nothing in the world to do but play cello.


This week so far has gone surprisingly well. Most of what I’ve worked on has been the breathing, almost entirely through scales with all sorts of bowing. The biggest thing I’ve been working on is turning left hand, right hand, and breathing from three synchronized motions into a single action. When I actually manage to do it, the results are beautiful. Playing this way is indescribably joyous. There’s such a wonderful aliveness in the sound, so lovely that even when I make mistakes I can still experience the wondrousness of the sound.

The other day I was thinking about why we have a tendency to stop breathing when we make mistakes or hear sounds we don’t like (or at least why I stop breathing.) It’s as if by stopping my breath I’m trying to avoid receiving the undesirable sound, as if I refuse to take it in and let the mistake be a part of me. But by doing that I am keeping that which is beautiful apart from myself also. What a great tragedy! So, I’ve been practicing breathing through mistakes, allowing mistakes to just be mistakes, not assigning judgment, letting them go as new sounds come.

Then sometimes I can get to a place where I don’t have to work to do that. I just breathe. The breath carries my body and makes the sound happen. The mistakes are just sounds — nothing more! Then how easy it becomes to not make mistakes! How clear it is why they are happening and what to do differently! Suddenly — the most beautiful sounds I’ve ever heard from my cello (mistakes and all!) An hour or hour and a half has gone by, but it always feels like just a few minutes, one continuous moment.


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