Author: Emily Wright

help me help you

I have written a book. A cello technique book, to be specific. It’s sort of a manual for the technical aspects of the instrument, and I have been submitting it, one publisher at a time, for review. Yesterday, I came home to an ominous package that I immediately recognized as my manuscript, bereft of a book deal, from Oxford University Press. But when I opened the enclosure, there was a letter saying that they liked a lot of things, but that they wanted a much larger book, and gave me an example of a book that fit their criteria. Not 100% rejection, but in definite need of radical change. So I turn to you guys. Should I take my 60 page manual and turn it into a 200 page tome? I have this fear about a large volume because: 1) that means it will cost more 2) people might be scared off if it looks text-y 3) it’s meant to go on a music stand But I respect OUP, and I could easily bolster my existing content. Would you buy a chubby cello book? What would you like it to address? Perhaps I will put the table of contents and a sample chapter up for your perusal later this week. Thanks so much to everyone who is reading and sharing my blog. It is meaningful to me, and I...

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practice makes perfect. if you survive.

I wish I could send my adult students to music school, just for a week. Not to be inspired by the hours and hours of practice or by the tide of talent that floods the halls every hour. No, I want them to witness the bizarre behavior of serious music students. My adult hobbyists (who range from beginner to semiprofessional) silently suffer with the same ailments any earnest student is victim to: frustration, restlessness, hopelessness, cabin fever, negativity, euphoria, and the all pervasive ennui. Since most of them are lone practitioners, they have no idea that these things are not only the burden of all musicians, but are inherent to the learning process, and are good for creativity. I am of the belief that anything done superbly is an art. I also believe that the creative process is one borne of emotional upheaval, introspection, and perspective. So when we are students, trying to create art, we have to come up with some coping mechanisms and reminders in order to stoke the creative fire and avoid giving up entirely. Coping mechanism #1: a sense of humor When confronted by the combination of pressure (applied by yourself, an upcoming audition or recital) and a passage of Bach that seems technically implausible for people who are cruelly limited to 5 fingers on the left hand, there are two options. The first involves...

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tally ho

I love airplanes. Always have. Maybe it was growing up around March AFB in Riverside and going to all of those airshows, or perhaps the lore of my uncle Dave saving the day by belly landing a Ransom Airways plane at O’Hare, much to the chagrin of those in charge with maintaining the tarmac. No matter the reason, throughout my childhood I could be found, several hours a day, pouring over pages of books like this one. To me, planes are an impossibly elegant expression of the better things man has to offer: vision, determination, knowledge, and daring. Watch a Boeing 747 land, and you’ll know exactly what I mean. There is no way something that immense should remain aloft. And yet, it does, beautifully. That plane is many a pilot’s sweetheart, with a reputation for smoothness and ease. It’s my favorite passenger jet to ride in (none of this Airbus stuff for me, thanks) and the absolute best to observe as it practically stands still on final approach, daring physics to deny it lift and forward thrust. Bernoulli wins again! It’s not just the airplanes. It’s the people who are involved in aviation, too. WWII bombardiers and radio operators, air traffic controllers, test pilots, designers, mechanical engineers, flight instructors. I like these people, and knowing them and hearing their stories makes my world so much richer. Do yourself...

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it’s all in your mind

I teach 2 students who have memory issues. One is a charming retiree who is a formidable visual artist and has what I think of as a “leaky memory”. Every now and again, something will just sort of fall out of her brain, and I’ll have to re-teach whatever it was. These things are usually nuances of technique or other things that people with absolutely no diagnosed brain injuries also struggle with. She is a beginner with a background in piano. The other one is a man who played for 15 years and was in a catastrophic mountain biking accident a few years back. He has major short term memory issues along with some interesting logical and temporal distortion. It got me thinking about growing up around artists and academics. So many have some affectation like an accent that fades from northern to southern London over the course of a session, a bit of faux-dementia, or the odd repetitive compulsion. Good lord, have I sat next to some head cases in my symphonic experience. One woman I used to run into a lot had the personality of a bulldozer. Her goal was to mulch every cellist in the vicinity with the force of her presence and the volume of her voice to bolster a fragile ego. But that’s just her way, they say. We all know one steely-eyed, caustic...

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