Cello practice is a lot more than practicing the notes
.The way you live is part of your practice
BE FULLY IN THE PRESENT
Breathing has a huge impact on your playing but not only...
It impacts your
- immune sistem
Do you spend as much time improving your breathing than your spiccato? ...
- Chest breathing (from the top lobes of the lungs)
- Belly or diaphragmatic breathing (entire lung capacity)
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" ?
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.
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
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
- 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)
FEEL THE BEAT, FEEL THE MUSIC
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.
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.
I. THE JUDGE...
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...
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
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.
- this is stupid
- this is right/wrong
- this person should act differently
- this interpretation is not good
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.
II. YOUR PERSONALITY REFLECTS INTO YOUR PLAYING
FOLLOWER, LEADER, BOTH?
We sometimes have a tendency to define ourselves as a leader or follower.
"To define is to limit." Oscar Wilde
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
.III. FEED YOUR LIFE, FEED YOUR MUSIC GET INSPIRED & INSPIRE!.
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...
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."
Your playing is the mirror of who you are. The fullest you live your life, the richest your music will be.
Connect with your inner kid. Look around and try to observe simple details as if it was the first time.
Be curious about art and artists, go to museums, read bios about artists
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!