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Posted by Tracie Price on May 09, 1999 at 09:33:57:

In Reply to: Let's help Theo posted by DS on May 09, 1999 at 02:15:15:

There are so many phases that one can go through. I was going through a phase when I began the cello-- I was a fairly accomplished pianist, and in high school I was losing interest. The thing that saved me was that some friends encouraged me to join orchestra because they were looking for a pianist. I did, and found it rekindled my interest in music. That was when I started listening to a lot of recordings as well. After a year and a half as a pianist in the orchestra, I decided it would be more interesting to take up another instrument, and the cello was the one I found to be the most beautiful (violin- too high, viola- too scratchy, bass- too big, cello- just right!) Luckily, our school had an extra cello sitting around in the storage room, so I took it home and proceeded to try to figure out how to play the darn thing. I watched a lot of people, particularly one girl in my class who was a pretty good player, but also watched cellists on tv, and sometimes got to go to live orchestra concerts. I was at a Utah Symphony concert when I had been playing maybe 8 months, and they played Cappriccio Italien, and I remember thinking how I would NEVER be able to play something so difficult. I've played that piece a couple of times now, and think back and smile- it's interesting how something that seemed like it would always be out of my reach, now isn't very difficult. Surely though, I never would have reached the point where I could play that piece, if I had let myself get overwhelmed by the thought of how little I knew, and how little I could play during those first few years. Instead I tried to focus on smaller, more attainable goals, and they gradually added up to let me reach the bigger ones.

I know this is getting long, sorry about that, but many people, probably even most people, go through phases of discouragement. Personally, the last month has been very difficult for me. There was a two week stretch when I literally couldn't bring myself to practice. If I tried to force myself to, I would have these weird...I don't know what to call them...anxiety attacks, and I'd have to leave the practice room and go calm down. It was so frustrating, because this is the time I think I should be making the most progress, and I couldn't even stand to practice. I would want to throw my poor cello against the wall! (shudder!) I've been gradually pulling out of it, and the thing that has been helping me is something that a few very close friends have commented on- that I am so lucky to be able to play music, so fortunate to be able to experience that wonderful power, so blessed to have a quartet and orchestras to perform in. I have had to temporarily change my focus from the minute technical details, to the larger picture in order to get away from that paniced feeling.

Anyway, you are not alone Theo if you are going through one of those periods of discouragement, we've all been there. I don't really have any answers besides what has worked in helping me-- that being to change my focus and perspective, at least for a while. Focus on the music, not on the technical details. Go to concerts. Listen to recordings--not necessarily of cello works, because then you can get overwhelmed by the perfection in the recordings. Listen to chamber or orchestral works and get caught up in the music itself. I may not have any answers, but what I can tell you is that it will get better. Two weeks ago, I didn't feel that way, but now I know it is true.

Best wishes,
Tracie Price

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