Must be something about summer. We all kind of fall off of the horse in one way or another. Cellists stop practicing. Bloggers quit blogging (or go all sporadic, like me). L’s work parallels the TV season, and it’s interesting to see the strange stress of not working replace the maniacal stress of being overworked during the fall through spring. Summer is the winter of productivity, it seems.
I like to do a few things when I write. I like lists. I like anecdotes. I like making people chuckle. This time, I think I’ll just blurt a little, and see how that goes. For all of you who have abandoned your practice, been abandoned by your teachers, been forced away from your instrument by time, circumstance, or budget, it’s time to pick it up again. One of the things I am learning (from experience and also from my beloved Pema Chodron) is that no matter what you do, you are practicing that skill. Each day you don’t practice the cello strengthens the ability to not play. Each time you tell yourself “I’ll work on that tomorrow” invests in the habit of putting something off. By the same token, each time you beat yourself up for a lack of practice makes you a better beater, not a more conscientious cellist. I’ve talked along these lines before, that you want to make sure you invest in what you want because you always go where you’re pointed. What I’d like to add is that the road to being where you want on the cello is not paved with years of perfect practice and singular investment. The important thing is an overarching return to these ideas and a willingness to accept falling down as part of the larger experience of getting better.
I am constantly reminding my students that it is a skill in itself to continue after a mistake. Every practice session teaches us to get better at barreling through and getting back up. If you’ve fallen away from the cello for any reason, get back up. Strengthen the habit of getting back up. Sharpen your resolve, even if just for the sake of sharpening it. You’ll find the cello in there somewhere; and in it, perhaps a piece of yourself you thought you had lost.