Cello practice, appreciation, parenting

I am getting better at producing the really high partial harmonics cleanly and clearly. I am also getting better at harmonic trills, trilled glissandi, and other interesting phenomena. It’s amazing what your body can learn to do, sometimes without clear or conscious direction from your mind. I got in some time today while the twins were napping, and then another 40 minutes or so after we got the kids down tonight. I’m starting to get into this new routine. Forming the habit is key. And it helps me a lot to be able to ask Ted, at 9:30 pm, to come downstairs and hang out with me while I work. Just saying, “I need to go practice; will you come down to the studio with me?” makes it significantly less likely that I’ll wimp out of it. External motivation only goes so far, but support can make a huge difference.

I am amused by the contemplation of the audio slices he gets while sitting in the other chair in the studio: snippets of really fast triplets from the Beethoven trio, over and over and over again; whistles and squeaks, loud pizzicatos and slaps of the stick on the strings (col legno battuto) from the Saunders; the same big shift, again over and over again, from the Britten; the click of the metronome app on my phone; the partially articulated thoughts, curses, exclamations, and other utterances from me.

Someone I knew in high school sent me a nice message this morning. It made my day. It also made me think about what we say and what we don’t say to each other. I think that outside the context of a friendship or romantic relationship we’re not used to sharing with others the things we notice, like, and appreciate about them. I think that’s one reason why sometimes people feel isolated, or that they have to be in a romantic relationship in order to experience intimacy and closeness. But you never know when a simple thing you tell someone else will lift their spirits, help them through a difficult spot, or just make a good day even better. Today I was reminded that when I was living on the east coast going to grad school, there was a very personable conductor on the train I usually took. He was always friendly when I got on, and one day he told me that he liked my smile, that it always brightened his day. It was so lovely that we had been unknowingly giving each other the same gift, adding something small but significantly positive to the other person’s life. We never had a long conversation, and eventually I moved away. But the sweetness of that moment lingers. And it was one of the things that helped me through some tough times in that city, when I’d injured myself and, eventually, couldn’t play cello, wasn’t sure what would happen with my schooling or career, and was feeling pretty depressed about my situation.

Respectful, genuine, positive communication is one of the things that makes the world go ’round.

It also makes me think about what we want to teach our daughters, about the value of connecting with people who aren’t your friends but who are living within your sphere. You never know who might turn out to be your friend, of course, but aside from that, it is important for every human being to be seen, acknowledged, appreciated. And it is important for every human being to look, observe, appreciate, and express. Our connections can make us stronger.

These days Hazel is comfortable talking with people she doesn’t already know well. She is certainly capable of shyness, but she is open and curious, likes to ask questions and communicate. I hope that she will carry that into and through school, that she will be able to cross social barriers and see the best in people no matter what they wear, how they speak, how they look, where they’re from, who they are.


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