February 27, 2013

Fun or Work? Part Four

Posted in writing for fun tagged at 3:51 am by Rebecca Hein

For years I took for granted in my cello practice the model of “work on difficult etudes and pieces because that’s what advances your skill.” Yes and no. I did learn upper-level techniques, yet the most important elements of performance escaped me.

How could I gain a feel for the music: timing, phrasing, and the deep emotion needed to really reach the audience? Over and over again we’re told that these things can’t be taught.

And why can’t they be taught? Because they most often flow organically from the free experience of making music.

Writing is the same. The easy flow of words can carry us along into magical places we can never get to by trying. And difficult jobs force us to try. Then we end up trying so hard that we lose that easy forward motion that is the essence of our art. Therefore, our quest should be for the simple path of enjoyment of what we do, trusting that this procedure will lead us to the more advanced abilities we want.

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February 22, 2013

Fun or Work? Part Three

Posted in writing for fun tagged at 3:39 pm by Rebecca Hein

My entire musical training and a good share of my writing life was spent focusing on correctness and excellence. I worked hard because I wanted to be good at my art, and also because I’d discovered the joys of proficiency.

It’s fun to play the cello well and to write easily and well. Yet there’s a shorter path to this enjoyment than the thirty-year one I took.

Play easy pieces and give yourself easy writing assignments. Why complicate your artistic life with intricate tasks when the relaxation of easy forward momentum can iron out so many problems?

In music, tone and a natural feel for phrasing flow from playing pieces that are well within your technique. In writing, a simple, straightforward narrative is fun and almost writes itself. From there, more advanced abilities develop of their own accord.