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.

3 responses »

  1. I do the super fast metronome thing sometimes. I agree that it helps. However, this technique does not seem to help forge musicality where none exists. 🙂 I’m hoping to stunmble upon something that does.

    • Hmm… I found that it allowed me to relax, which in turn allowed my innate musicality to express itself without any extra effort on my part. Perhaps this is just me. Ever since I first started playing I always had tons of musical ideas but had trouble actually getting those ideas to come out in my playing. There had always been a large disconnect between what was happening inside my head and the sounds that were coming out of my cello. While my teacher has spent a lot of time working with me on how to play what I’m intending to play, the greatest advances have come from working on other aspects of my playing.

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