This short post is just a reminder really to myself, and maybe others, that it is easy to become very comfortable playing your own instrument all the time. We become accustomed to the nuances of sound it can create, it’s certain strengths and how to play to them. We so often forget to spend some time trying others of our instrument and listening to what it can teach us about sound.
It is the most liberating feeling to be trying out different cellos and I find that you notice what issues are essentially ‘you’ and which are to do with your instrument. If a certain sound is suffering on all instruments I try, I must know it is something for me to work on more technically. Similarly with bow weight and string crossings, some instruments will feel very natural to play and others ask you to work much harder. A great part of playing lots of different instruments is that we suddenly listen better because we are reacting to a sound that is unfamiliar. With different instruments to try, we are able to experiment with sounds to such a greater degree and have more scope for improvement as we are forced to listen deeper. Pianists often see changing instruments as a curse, but I think it must teach them to adapt, listen and to play to a higher standard for the instance of an instrument that isn’t quite up to standard. Something we certainly can learn from.
A side note, but this thought about instruments comes about after I took my bow for a rehair last week and discovered it had incurred a crack among many other issues. Upon playing the bow I had been leant for a few days, I was astonished to hear the vast change in sound of my instrument. I felt so much more confident on a bow that was working well. It just goes to show how often negligence of our tools can make our sound suffer.
Trying different instruments gives us a bigger picture of sound worlds. We can learn so much about how sound is created and how we react to it by frequently going out of our instrumental comfort zone.