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Want a cello?

March 2, 2009

No, mine’s not for sale!

I had a phone call several weeks ago from a guy who was going to buy his girlfriend a cello for Valentine’s Day (“She just loves the cello!) and was interested in getting lessons for her as well.

I haven’t heard back from him, and Valentine’s Day was a while back now.
What do you want to bet, he never calls?

I’m just wondering how seriously she “loves the cello” and if she truly wants to learn how to play it, or just wants to love the sound of it from afar.  I mean, it’s a commitment to learn something new, at any age.  I’m not sure I’d want to pick up the cello now that I know how much work it takes!

I have had quite a few adult students over the years (and I really love teaching adults), but they seem to come and go.  Right now I’m down to about three and one of those might quit as she thinks she may have bitten off more than she can chew (her words) in attempting to learn a new instrument while caring for her three young daughters.  She initially started last fall as a surprise for her husband, who loves the cello, and we managed to keep both the cello and the lessons a secret from him until Christmas when she gave him a recording of herself playing one of his favorite hymns.  Now she’s reconsidering the commitment.

And I completely understand.  I cringe at how often I don’t get out my cello to practice these days.  It’s hard with kids.  It’s hard to find some quiet space.  It’s hard to find the energy.  It’s hard when I don’t have masterclasses or recitals coming up to practice for.  There’s orchestra of course (Brahms is beckoning as I type) but I don’t have to put in hours daily to keep up with that (which is probably a good thing because I don’t have it.) 

I’m not sure what point I’m trying to make here.  I do wonder though what motivates an adult to pick up a new instrument.  Do you play?  Do you practice?  Would you learn to play an instrument if your spouse loved it or bought it for you because you professed a love for it?  And how would you like a cello for Valentine’s Day???

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. March 3, 2009 5:50 am

    I think we have our seasons when it comes to stuff like that. Like right now, I would LOVE to be painting crafts and such to sell, but homeschooling my kids right now is more important, so I put my needs aside for now. Who knows, in a few yrs when my youngest is old enough, we could probably all paint together.

  2. March 3, 2009 8:50 am

    I tried this with the violin when my children were younger (and there weren’t as many of them). It didn’t work very well because of the demands on my time for the other every day things. I do want to try again when my children are a little older and hopefully the older ones can watch the littler ones for a while while I practice.

  3. March 3, 2009 9:44 am

    Ahh… One of my “plans” for the year is to pick up the violin again. I have one…or at least I think I do. Technically my parents bought it and I’m still waiting for me to feel committed enough to ask them if I can have it. I played when I was in elementary and middle school. My parents told me that if I quit I would regret it. I quit anyway. They were right. I’ve been trying to decide how realistic it would be for me to take lessons again…

  4. Michelle permalink
    March 3, 2009 4:59 pm

    I’d love to try a new instrument, but I’m not good about practicing, and with a baby I am even worse… but I’d seriously like to take music lessons again someday, when my kids are bigger.

  5. Michael permalink
    March 3, 2009 7:19 pm

    What motivates us? For me it was a long dormant desire made present by the need to do something because I realized that life can be much shorter than we planned!

    Is our dedication no worse than youth beginners who often give up for the very same reasons that adults give (no time, harder than we thought).

    Of course, one advantage that kids have is parents who try to remind them that learning an instrument is a special opportunity. However, these same kids often give up once the parental pressure eases.

    I do hope you keep a positive disposition towards your adult students. Some of us are truly devoted to the cello. Furthermore, as our numbers increase, we can support each other through some of these developmental hurdles.

  6. Michael permalink
    March 3, 2009 7:22 pm

    You raise interesting issues. I may discuss them at length albeit from a male point of view on my own blog. Still, over all it seems that one should wait for the kids to be school age or at least potty-trained and in day care.

  7. cellista permalink*
    March 3, 2009 10:36 pm

    Oh, don’t get me wrong Michael! I love my adult students, I almost love teaching them more than my younger ones because they are more motivated from within and they do know it’s a special opportunity. I have had some that are totally dedicated to it and I love to see that.

    I have had some however that find out it’s a lot more work than they bargained for and they just can’t continue the commitment for whatever reason.

    I really got to thinking about this because of the guy who called about giving a cello as a present. To me, the decision to play an instrument and to dedicate the time necessary to learn is not to be taken lightly and is highly personal. And it is a commitment. The feeling I got from this guy, and maybe I read him wrong, was that he just thought it would be a cool surprise for his girlfriend, not that she had expressed a desire to really learn. And like I say, I haven’t heard back from either of them so I’m wondering how it went over! 🙂

    As for me, I love to play but I’m so thankful I put in the hours of practice time when I was young and single so that now I just have to maintain my skills and I’m at the point where I play well and it’s very fun. Now, piano is a whole nother story! I would love to play the piano as well, but I’m in the adult beginner category there and I rarely take the time to sit down at the keyboard.

    I think it is important not to put off our talents until the kids leave home. We homeschool so I don’t send them to school, let alone daycare and I still carve out time to practice when they’re awake. I think it’s important that they see me practice and see that developing one’s talents or learning something new takes time and hard work. I also want them to see that I don’t know everything and see that I’m not afraid to learn something new!

  8. March 5, 2009 8:11 pm

    I played the flute back when I was in school. I still have it. It’s in good condition. My mother-in-law even had new pads put on it, in hopes that I would play again. My husband has encouraged me to start again. He would like me to join him playing with at least one of the orchestras (symphonies?) he plays with. That’s actually a difficult request to ignore. But… the time. It all comes down to the time involved. I can barely juggle the commitments I have now. Adding another one is just something I can’t imagine.

    I’ve been tempted to find a flute teacher to help me get back into it, and I may do that at some point, but right now I just can’t see it happening.

    As far as new instruments go, I would really love to learn to play the piano. I have always wanted to do that, since I was a child.

  9. March 6, 2009 6:27 pm

    I purchased a cello for myself some years ago with the intent of learning to play- never happened. I do plan flute but always loved strings. I’m not sure why I haven’t followed through…at the time we didn’t even have children…go figure.

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