Watch especially from about 4:30, when he starts demonstrating kung fu. Notable details: speed, fluidity, and economy of motion; stillness and ease in the parts of his body not in use; balance and poise: a true master of himself. Also interesting is his description of kung fu starting at 2:00: images of water and flexibility that, in my opinion, apply well to playing the cello. Bruce Lee’s deep study of martial arts led him to many truths of self-mastery. A fantastic read: http://bit.ly/TaoOfJeetKuneDo
The best translation, I think, is: “The perfect is the enemy of the good.” What this means to me, in relation to performing music, is that we should not strive for perfection but, instead, for excellence. Especially in an endeavor where our self-perception conditions our artistic ambitions and determines the manner of our efforts, we cannot afford to approach making music in fear of potential mistakes (the destruction of our aspiration to perfection). If we do, everything we produce will be worse.
For many people, this timid and nervous mindset leads to misuse of themselves and the commission of vastly more errors. Even playing that is free of any overt error will be limited by a cautious mental state and will fall short of the inspiration and artistry that lie within the performer.
We must not allow our inevitable imperfections to limit everything we will ever do to mediocrity. We should strive boldly for positive virtues in spite of any errors, real or imagined. Those who commit themselves to this idea every day gain two advantages: not only do they rid themselves of the destructive tension of playing in a state of fear, but they also develop the habit of taking bold, easy swings at greatness to the point that they will eventually be able to do this (and succeed at it) in public.
This is not an excuse for sloppy playing or poor practicing, but an assertion that we should aspire to excellence, attaching ourselves to our best abilities and most positive intentions.
A list of key concerns for practicing the cello, in order of priority:
Ease: practicing playing in a relaxed and focused way (creating a productive context in which to learn and build specific playing habits)
Rightness: ensuring that the habits formed are good ones; practicing playing well as opposed to practicing playing badly (good use of self and technique; good sound, intonation, and musicianship)
Complexity: bringing together many simple, right elements in increasingly layered and coordinated ways (completeness, speed).
Notice that achieving the final product (the complete music, the full tempo, the end goal of our practice) is last on this list of priorities. By maintaining the first two priorities above the third, we arrive at our end goal most efficiently.