LEARN FROM YOUR EVERYDAY LIFE

SEE YOUR WHOLE LIFE AS PART OF YOUR PRACTICE



The way we live our life is the most important part of our practice

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LEARN ABOUT & FROM YOURSELF


BODY

BREATHING - POSTURE - MOVEMENT

MIND

JUDGING - FOCUS - LEARNING

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I. YOUR BODY

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BREATHING

PRACTICE AWARENESS, 
BE FULLY IN THE PRESENT
BREATHE

Breathing has a huge impact on your playing but not only...

It impacts your

  • sleep 
  • back 
  • digestion 
  • memory 
  • anxiety 
  • immune sistem 
  • heart


Do you spend as much time improving your breathing than your spiccato? ...


BREATHING? HOW?


  • Chest breathing (from the top lobes of the lungs) 
tends to be short and quick, it uses only a portion of the lungs and delivers a minimal amount of oxygen to the bloodstream.

  • Belly or diaphragmatic breathing (entire lung capacity)
slow and deep,  diaphragm and abdominal muscles pull down on the abdominal cavity to fully inflate the lungs.

How do you breathe?




Diaphragmatic breathing helps you relax and focus.

Experience belly breathing, be careful not lifting your shoulders, place your hands on your ribs and feel the movement, imagine your thoracic cage is a balloon. When you inhale deeply, you will feel your abs, thoracic cage, lower back muscles, and diaphragm moving.


When you breathe deeply, your muscles cannot be tense. Find time for relaxation..

Have you tried the exercise "Meditate with your cello" ?

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POSTURE


By posture, I mean understanding the optimal use of your body. Understanding the mechanism of your body can provide a valuable guidance to improve your skills and ultimately your performance.

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You might have been told to...

  • keep your head up 
  • open your chest 
  • feel the weight of your arms
  • lower you shoulders
  • watch the arches of your hands
  • lower your wrists
  • keep your lower back straight
  • etc. 

All the examples listed above happen because of a tension or a posture issue. Correcting at the moment is not enough, find what is causing the problem, see your posture as a chain where everything is connected.


Where and how to start working on your posture?


It starts by being aware of your posture. You need to observe your posture before changing anything.

Back pain? Tension in your neck? Sore shoulders? Cold hands?

Observe the way you

  • walk 
  • sit (standing, sitting, where are your feet etc.), 
  • grab a glass or a bottle, or any object handed to you. 
  • move your arm, is it led from the shoulder, your back, your hand, all together?

After the observation process, start analysing your movement.

The wrist are a very good example: when you take/grab something, what is leading the movement, your whole arm from your shoulder or your wrist? 


Feel grounded, feel your feet, they will help you improe your posture. 

Easy exercise: while sitting, move your arms around you. Then, do the same thing but lift your feet and keep moving your arms. What do you feel?

and so on...

You might want to work with someone who can help you exploring this topic. 


(you can also contact me if you have questions or want to schedule a meeting)



MOVEMENT

FEEL THE BEAT, FEEL THE MUSIC

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A sound is a vibration. To create a vibration, you need a movement. The sound produced by your cello is created by your movement.



How to improve your movement? 


By connecting with your body, finding a unity in your movement: feeling the beat.

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Move, tap, dance!

Practicing with a metronome is not enough, it doesn't make you connect with the music. You need to practice your inner beat! Rythm is something you feel.


How to practice rythm?

While you are cleaning or cooking or on public transportation, listen to pop, rock or jazz music, start by taping the beat, then try to feel the upbeat with the rest of your body, then bounce from one side to the other on your feet, try to synchronize your arms, feel the beat in your belly.


When you hear music: dance! And if you can't dance because you are in a public place or it is not a dance situation, dance in your mind. You will see that your body is slightly moving around the beat.


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THE MIND


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I. THE JUDGE...
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While playing, you might have heard that little (mean) voice in your head saying:

  • you can't play this well 
  • you are going to mess up that excerpt/passage
  • you didn't practice enough
  • bad sound!
  • out of tune!
  • people will think you are not good
  • and so on...
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That little voice judging you is here to boycot your performance/playing, nothing else.

Judging doesn't bring a positive impact in your playing, it doesn't give you any constructive solution on how to play better, improve your sound, intonation etc. but the opposite

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If it happpens when you play, it probably happens also during the rest of the day, and not only with yourself... 


But how to make peace with the judge?!

Like with most problems we face in life, quick fixes are rare... Change takes time and patience.


OBSERVATION PROCESS

Start noticing when you put a judgement in your everyday life. For example:

  • this is stupid
  • this is right/wrong
  • this person should act differently
  • this interpretation is not good
  • etc.
and then start asking yourself why...

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a jugement says more about the one who judges than about the one who is judged.


When you judge someone's playing by looking for the things you like or dislike, you are more feeding your ego than listening to the performance. If after a concert the only thing you can say is "that was bad", you probaby wasted your time.

Think of the reason why you didn't like the performance, try to understand what was the goal of the performer(s), the pro and cons. 

 -> being opinionated vs being judgmental.

We can always learn something from others, in any situation. Same with mistakes.

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II. YOUR PERSONALITY REFLECTS INTO YOUR PLAYING

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FOLLOWER, LEADER, BOTH?

Observe the way you interact with others, not only when you play cello, experience being more a follower if you usually a leader and the opposite.


We sometimes have a tendency to define ourselves as a leader or follower. 

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"To define is to limit." Oscar Wilde

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For example, in orchestra, some prefer to seat as leader/principal, others are happier in the back of the section. During our studies we often have the opportunity to experience both, it help us to understand each role. Get out of your comfort zone, trust yourself, learn. Switching role doesn’t mean you will have to go against nature, this can be a onetime experience, you will learn from it and you will gain a deeper understanding of other positions.

“The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between, the leader is a servant.”

Jacqueline Du Pré

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Example of personality types, issues, ideas you could explore...


  • Over controlling attitude.
Do you have a tendency to need to be in control in everything you do? Have been told "to let go" when you play? May be you can start practicing the "let go" in your life?



  • Trust issues

Mutual trust is very important when you play with other musicians. 

Experience loosing some control with others when playing sports, games, cooking, dancing etc.



  • Passive attitude

Do you have a tendency to not take action? For example, if you have a passive attitute toward practicing, you are not practicing reguarly and/or without motivation. Procrastination can be your enemy...

If it happens with your practice, it might also happen with the everyday tasks. (if it is only with the cello either you are scared of failing or may be you don't really playing the cello.. but if you are reading this post I imagine you care...)

Have you read the post " Improve our practice" ?

  • Fear 
Is controlling you? Fear cannot be an excuse, it will prevent you from achieving your dreams.

Fear is when we let being scared prevent us from doing what we would like/love to do. 

Remember that fear is a fiction, an imagination of what could happen in a negative way, a future that doesn't exist, only in your mind.





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III. FEED YOUR LIFE, FEED YOUR MUSIC GET  INSPIRED & INSPIRE!
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If you consider yourself (or want to become) an artist, your life is about giving. In order to be able to give, you need to feed your life with things that inspire you...


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The actual purpose of music is an offering. It's a service. If you have that attitude, you can't go wrong, because you're always in the right place. You're in the right state of mind to make that offering." 


Yo-Yo Ma

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Your playing is the mirror of who you are. The fullest you live your life, the richest your music will be.


Imagination 

Connect with your inner kid. Look around and try to observe simple details as if it was the first time.


Creativity

Be curious about art and artists, go to museums, read bios about artists


Learning

Make good use of your computer, use it to learn and not to forget.

Discover all the resources online like the libraries, museums, documentaries, publications... Nowadays so many documents are digitalised, be curious, explore!




YOU WILL ALWAYS HAVE TO FACE NEW CHALLENGES,
ACCEPT AND WELCOME THEM AS PART OF YOUR PRACTICE.
FACE EVERY PROBLEM AS AN OPPORTUNITY TO LEARN AND TO GROW! 

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