Wednesday, August 23, 2006


Letting Go

While I've not actually been able to "let go" quite as much as Jennifer and Erin have been suggesting. I really have been trying to put aside my concerns about my sound quality, with some success. Yesterday I described working on bowing and drilling my fingering. Another commenter sent me a few additional practice drills that I've added to my routine - thanks Terry! These simple, basic drills can fill an hour before I know it.

We become so accustomed to seeing our reflections in mirrors (which are reversed left-for-right) that we are often startled to see ourselves in a double reflection or even in a photo, because our self-perception is that mirror image. I've known people to not even recognize themselves in photos. The same holds true with recording our voices - many people are quite surprised to hear a recording of themselves speaking. So it must be with our music. When we hear a recording of our music, it is naturally going to be quite different from what we "hear" as we are actually playing the music.

Clearly I've been way too obsessed... overanalyzing everything (I was a chemist, after all). I have been far too focused on the physical details of the process. I assumed that if I could identify, dissect and analyze an errant action in detail (down to its quantum microskills), I should be able to fix it. But, Heisenberg says that you can't measure something at a quantum level without impacting whatever it is you are trying to measure.

But what am I really expecting to reveal from continually trying to assess where I am along the road to becoming a cellist? That I have just barely begun this journey and I still have a long, long way to go? Rather than continue to try to figure out where I am all the time, I'm ready to move on. My obsessive focus on trying to pinpoint where I am has been impacting my ability to just let go and play as good as I can.

So, ahem, I'm taking it all back. Kindly ignore my last several posts on this topic; they are but the inane bleatings of an overly analytical, self-deluded mind! Harrumph!

I'll continue to blog about general musings and my "actions" as I study the cello, avoiding too much analysis of my perceptions of the "results".

Some analysis is necessary, but I think you're right: don't worry so much about results and analysis. The reason this doesn't work is that music just does not work that way. It isn't scientific. Yes, you can analyze your motions and fingering forever, but the whims of the instrument on a particular day, whether you are sore or feeling good, all contribute to "how it feels" to practice or play. The ability to play varies incredibly from day to day; no one really knows why, but it happens to everyone.

If I were you, I'd try to focus on playing music. Express yourself with your cello. That's what it's for--expressing some emotion or feeling with sound.
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