You have étude books. And in those books are certain pages that make your guts churn and your eyes sizzle. I know because I, too have Popper’s High School of Cello Studies. But you don’t need to bust out Popper or Bukinik or Duport to play coy. Schroder, Lee, and Dotzauer have lots of opportunities to avoid challenging passages. So lately, I’ve been flipping through my music (mostly études and excerpts) and stopping as soon as I see something I would not like to play.
It is the most gratifying thing ever.
One of my main dwelling points at the Atlanta Cello Project class was that speed is key. Only play something at the speed at which you can actually play it. From there, anything is possible. With that mindset, you set yourself up with an openness to challenge and less fear of the notes. Just like the 24 scale challenge, it is a great way to establish a work ethic that guarantees progress and prepares you like nothing else for whatever music might be thrown your way.