listening to: bjork – undo (roh)
Yay! I’m excessively happy and excited for the summer! Today I recieved my acceptance letter from Madeline Island Music Camp! I’ve heard so many wonderful things about this music festival, and unlike last year, I willingly feel that I want to do this for myself. Also good is the fact that it’s based on chamber music, which I love more than anything, but that I still get to work the amazing faculty (I would like to note that Ko Iwasaki is good friends with my parents, having been cello professor at Illinois State for some years, but also that he is a cellist at a fabulous conservatory in Japan. Yes, people, Japan. That amazing place I want to go to. Also good connections to have are cellist from Pacifica String Quartet, and Yeesun Kim, faculty member at New England Conservatory. She actually heard my audition, there). Connections are good. So is intensive summer music study! YAY!
~~Weird Cello Ramble To Follow! Turn Back Now!~~
You have been warned.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the progress I’ve made as a cellist and such in the past year, mostly due to certain things I did, such as CYSO and ARIA. I think those are the two main things that did a lot for me, both technically, psychologically, and attitude-wise. CYSO was great because I became exposed to music, amazing players, and a simulation of a professional setting (great orchestra, minus any sort of $$$). Plus, it really made me realize that I’m not the best, but that I’m not the worst, either. That every situation I am in will be different and not to become too cocky in one or too self-depricating in another. That it is best to notice other people, but not assess them with your own playing (in an unhealthy “I can’t even show face among people like this” manner). CYSO was crazy high-level. I think the level of expectancy made me push myself, and the pressure, though frightening at first, showed me how to cope a little more. I also really enjoyed feeling as though I actually belonged to something that was at the top, even if I had self-doubting myself a lot with it at first.
Then came ARIA. Oh my god, ARIA. At that point, I was shaky playing solo stuff (well, more-so than I am now, anyway) and really afraid to play, not only in an outward anxiety-inclusive manner, but also subconsciously afraid to play out or try to produce the sound that a solo-piece requires. The funny thing about ARIA was that I definitely didn’t practice too much. I practice more on a daily basis now during school than I did during the festival. But somehow, through lectures and masterclasses and all of this information to soak in, I absorbed so much that helped me become a better player during the year, this year. Once I started really figuring out how to practice, I began assessing myself with all of these little things I learned. It was amazing. So during ARIA, I did not really improve, but with the information I obtained, I did improve greatly at a later time. Also, I think I entered with an attitude slightly different from an ego. Almost the opposite. I was convinced I was on the lower end of the rankings, and I wasn’t ashamed of that. But I was embarrassed of playing horribly in front of people who were better players. Well, in the course of one seminar and eight private lessons, I think I overcame this. I learned from my teachers how to take constructive criticism of the most frustrating and possibly emotionally draining type and turn into just constructive criticism. I convinced myself that it’s not about me personally, that if I am working and making an attempt, I can’t be ashamed of what I’ve done. It’s all the learning experience that matters, and no one teacher I worked with was trying to hurt my feelings.
So maybe CYSO made me feel like a poor player who had no social standing, and maybe ARIA made me learn to shut off emotional interference like some sort of brainless machine, and maybe these things caused a lot of weird angst and frustration on the side, but currently, I love where my playing is going, and other than other people bringing their weird emoting onto me, I feel sound with the way I work with teachers and learn. So I’ve been on both ends of the spectrum.
But then, that brings me to thinking about other things. Such as why I like to make myself jump between the two ends of the spectrum. I don’t feel like it’s particularly healthy for me to suddenly go from being on the lower end of this amazing group of players, to something of the opposite. I realized after the last major jump that I’m doing it, and it makes it a problem for me to keep my focus straight. It also frustrates me that I can’t keep my standards high on all degrees, and that I feel the need to be “easy” on myself after being part of something which was difficult but worth the difficulty in the end. I want the teachers to be honest about my playing. If it sucks, I want to know that. Because I don’t mind hearing that something sucks to somebody else’s ears. After all, I don’t hear my playing the way everybody else does. To me, it’s different and completely askew from reality, in a lot of ways. So I want to hear that I’m not doing so hot, or that I’ve done better. Then I also want to hear when I make something sound really great. I want somebody to tell me it’s musically good. This is the problem with teachers. You start to depend on them to judge you a lot, when someday you’ll have to do the judging for yourself. What worries me is that I’m not getting enough of the honest and blunt opinions of musicians who can hear my playing for what it is.
It’s really very difficult that you can’t recognize your own playing for what it is. I mean, I think eventually with enough training and aided listening, you can. It still worries me.
Alright. So I’m done. I just have had a lot of time to think, recently, about what I’m playing and how my approaches are different, and it’s always interesting to look back and see what events have directly caused shifting, and what subtle periods have been responsible for other things.