I have recently taken up playing the cello. I feel like this comes under a type of ‘making’ – not as permanent as knitting or sewing or drawing but just as valid. It is something I find very calming and meditative, it is also something I am doing purely for myself and so I feel no pressure or rush to become ‘good’. It is simply something I can enjoy in the moment.
My cello itself is a cheap, pretty low quality instrument – I bought it on Ebay for about £200 – but this takes any pressure learning I feel, as I haven’t invested so much if I change my mind or decide I want to learn something else instead. I haven’t taken music lessons since I was about 15 and even then I struggled to stick with an instrument for more than a year or two. Hopefully cello will be a long term endeavour for me, but if not that is not a problem either. If I decide I love it then in a year or two I can get myself a decent instrument.
One of the ways in which I am probably going about my cello playing ‘wrong’ (although I don’t think there is a truly wrong way to do something you enjoy) is that I haven’t as of yet found myself a teacher. I had one or two lessons a year or two ago before deciding it wasn’t the right time for me to start learning. These meant I learnt the absolute basics like how to hold the cello and bow, but I have had no more personal tuition since.
I am aware that without a teacher I will never be ‘good’ and quite honestly a large part of this decision is financially motivated – I just can’t afford a teacher right now. Maybe when I am no longer on a student budget I will reconsider. I also feel though that by learning through the wealth of resources available in books and on the internet I am able to learn at my own pace and in a stress free way. If I am busy and can’t practice one week I don’t have to worry about disappointing my teacher or not having made enough progress.
I have been playing for about two months now and while my progress has been slow I have had some proud moments – for example learning how to play Hedwig’s Theme (the music from Harry Potter) or replacing a string for the first time, or the first time I played for someone else.
Some of the most useful resources can be found in the book Cello for Music Lovers: A Self Taught Method