Practice vs. play - all in the choice of words!

Practice vs. play - all in the choice of words!

I haven’t been paying enough attention to my cello lately. When one of my favorite cello melodies, the central tune in “Finlandia” by Jean Sibelius, came up as the tune for the middle hymn at church on Sunday, I loved it and resolved to get back to playing that. But it’s Wednesday afternoon as I write this, and I haven’t gotten my cello out of “its” closet yet.

Oh, I found the music and left it on my “practicing” chair. But so far, that’s been all.

This little confession is part of considering how I’m talking to myself about music. I love it. I often cheer myself up (or on!) with a song in my mind’s ear, and it’s often a wordless one played by my cello.

But practicing? Ugh! That’s homework!

I need to get away from the constant idea of calling my music-making “practicing” and call it “playing” more often. After all, I refer to the ability itself as “playing the cello.”

Sure, there are things I need to practice. High notes need their own special stretches and positions. I can play some parts of my favorite Tchaikovsky and Dvorak pieces, but not others. I ought to focus on playing (with) the parts I know rather than beating myself up mentally for not practicing the parts I don’t know.

Playing pieces I already know can be a joy, a consolation, and a memory test. Besides that, it’s great exercise — surely a better calorie-burner than TV and reading.

That’s it for now. I’m going to go play with my cello!

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