Things I am learning from learning the cello

I've now been learning the cello for two terms. That's about twenty lessons and (oh my goodness, I just did the maths) approximately 77 hours of practice. Seventy seven. And yes, because you asked, I am quite a bit better than I was when I began.

I have also learned a few things, and I'm not just talking about fingering and bowing and how to put the rosin on.

Things I am learning from learning the cello are as follows:

1. You should wear shoes when carrying large instruments with a vicious spike at the bottom of them.

2. A little bit of practice a day makes you better than the day before, even if you think the practice is going terribly and you're super frustrated because your fourth finger keeps going out of tune.

3. Your eight year old son will get upset when you tell him that you are learning song number 24 and he's still back on 19 in the same book. Oops.

4. He will not, then, be comforted by being told that it's all about how much you practice, plus the fact that you've had 10 years more music experience than him and know more theory and notation.

5. Playing with the teacher's expensive bow is going to make you sound a lot better than playing with the cheap student bow that came with your kit.

6. Turning up for church and playing four notes carefully, accompanying the piano, *can* elicit this reaction: "You sounded perfect."  Such an easy way to feel good about myself.

7. The swelled head from being called perfect (haw haw) can be immediately punctured by turning up to another lesson and listening in awe to the teacher play some simple tune that sounds completely amazing where yours just sounds scratchy and scrawky.

8. I need stronger core muscles to be a better cellist. I slouch. A lot.

9. On the other hand, I'm pretty proud of my callouses.

10. I am far more aware than ever that musically, I am a donkey. My ear is unpracticed, my rhythm is off, I guess more than I know. And it's only from being shown how a real musician thinks and plays and practices. If I wasn't exposed to something better, I wouldn't know what I'm missing.

11. And finally, I'm extremely aware of how I self-limit, without even being conscious of it. My teacher says things like, "Yes, well, you have to learn this type of fingering because this is what all the orchestra players use, but if you're doing solos, you need to slide up and down the neck," and I think, "Orchestra? Solos? Heck. I just want to play in church." But then I think about it and ask, "why not orchestras? Why not solos? Why am I immediately rejecting the thought that I could potentially be much, much better at this than I am at piano (not very good) or trumpet (even slightly worse)?" My eyes are being raised to the stars and I'm only just focusing on the height of the garden fence. I'm not even making it to the guttering of the roof, let alone the treetops. Why am I so quick to say, "I couldn't do that!" when maybe, just maybe, I could?


Do you self-limit?  What have you learned from learning something?

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