Monthly Archives: August 2011

A new cello philosophy courtesy of failblog.


Yesterday I was poking around on Engrish Funny when I came across this wonderful fortune. I am always doing that which I cannot do in order that I may learn how to do it. This is exactly what I have been doing the last week or so with my cello practice. If I can’t do something, I do it anyway. By doing it anyway, I learn how to do it! Seriously. It works.

I was working on this piece that is all 8th notes, one note per bow, at 108bpm = quarter note. It was just waaaaaay too fast for me. I was failing at only 72bpm. So what did I do? I turned the metronome up to 120bpm and played straight through the piece. Did I make lots of mistakes? Yes. But I made sure to make them in time with the metronome and within the key signature. I played some really weird stuff, sure. But then I turned the metronome back down and it was well and truly fantastic.

By doing this for an entire week — simply doing things even if I can’t do them — I have completely revolutionized my playing. I can effortlessly play twice as fast as I used to be able to. My bow arm has been transformed into a thing of grace and fluidity. Even when playing short, fast staccato notes it is fluid and circular. My innate sense of musicality keeps shining through in spontaneous, unexpected, beautiful ways. (I actually gave myself chills today while I was playing and all I was playing was C major!)

I wish I could explain this in a way that made even a tiny bit of sense, because it seems nonsensical to tell you to do things that you can’t do. But that is exactly what I have been doing. The results have been astonishing. And the best part is that it has been fun. Really really fun. I’ve never had anywhere near this much fun playing cello. It’s exciting and relaxed. I know this seems contradictory, but it’s not. It’s just awesome.

So, if you want to learn how to do things that you can’t do, just do them anyway and you will learn.