Author: Emily Wright

stuff to round out your approach: studying scores and critical listening

Even if you can hear the music in your head when you look at a piece, it’s never a bad idea to listen to several recordings and study the score as part of your general practice curriculum. To experience mastery, you need to know every crevice, every detail, technique, stretch, shift and emotional/dynamic implication of what you’re playing. A performance, whether it be solo, accompanied, or with an ensemble needs you to be the motor, driving the direction- not a passenger, along for a ride, fading in and out of autopilot depending on how many notes are on the...

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advice our teachers gave us, part 1

Part of the reward of teaching is grafting new students onto the lineage of instructors who influenced me, and in effect, into the legacy of the instructors who influenced them. It always tickled me to hear Cathy’s tone change when she quoted William Pleeth; it seemed like she and I were both students in that moment, listening to words that changed the trajectory of her career, and in turn, mine. The same would happen when Ron, a colossus of pedagogy in his own right, would talk about Leonard Rose’s brushstroke bowing, demonstrating with a hand that might as well...

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I’ve said it before

It’s frequently said—even among people who are smart and insightful, even among people who study the psychology and neuroscience of education— that children are simply better at learning. It’s easier for them. Endless sheaves of journal pages devoted to critical periods, myelination, and fluency, all coming to the same conclusion: kids are great learners, woo, look at their little craniums go. During grad school, I kept asking “Whither adult learning?” There are grains of truth in this apparent sandstorm of bad news for us grown ups, but after so much teaching and my own research (this is what I...

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Practicing, pretending, or playing: now with 100% more Soviet naval analogies

  I can always tell how someone practices after a few lessons. The most frustrated (and frustrating) students are those who spend hours laboring every week but don’t make substantive progress over the course of a month or two. Occasionally, there is a curricular problem- and we solve it by retrofitting their technique with something to shore up the gap in their competence. Most of the time, it’s because a student doesn’t do much real practice— they play instead. Or worse, they pretend to perform for some invisible ear to satisfy the desire for recognition or perhaps to hide...

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December= 1 post (at least) every. dang. day!

To celebrate my second favorite month, I’m going to post every single day in December (giant meteor notwithstanding). I would absolutely love to devote some of these posts to Q and A, so please lob some questions my way! Today’s post: 5 myths that every cello student would do well to quit believing in Surely, there must be a shortcut The best students are never happy with their progress No seriously, I don’t need to play with other people I’m probably too old for this Left hand über alles, baby   Surely, there must be a shortcut Nope. The...

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