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A Quarter-century anniversary of sorts

October 25, 2009

Turning 35 this month reminded me of another notable milestone in my life.  I have now been playing the cello for 25 years!  That is a really long time!  I started in 1984 right around the time I turned 10.  Here’s the story: (adapted from a previous blog post)

What I really wanted to be when I grew up was a ballerina.  Somewhere around 3rd grade I started ballet.  Then in 5th grade I like to say I was conned into playing the cello.

Actually the orchestra teacher in town came around to all the elementary schools to sign up 5th-graders for orchestra.  For some reason I thought violin was the only instrument option and I wasn’t interested.  The teacher called my mom, who she knew played the violin, and asked, “Why isn’t your daughter signed up for orchestra?”

My mom told her I didn’t want to play the violin, she didn’t want me to play the viola, and they weren’t about to haul a string bass around for me.  Mrs. W asked about the cello.  That was fine with my parents, if she could just convince me.  I guess I was rather stubborn even then, and I still don’t play the piano despite starting numerous times.

She came back to my 5th-grade class bringing more instruments.  She had us hold out our hands.  Some were told they’d be just right on a bass or a violin.  I held mine out.  “Now that is a perfect hand for the cello.”  “Really?”  I thought.  “Well, ok then.”  I’m still at it!  Some years later, I was reading a book on creating a successful string orchestra program and found this exact method of convincing children which instrument they should pick up.  She had me convinced though, and I still think I have the perfect hand for cello.

Our 5th-grade orchestra class was 4 students, though we did get to play with all the 5th-graders in town in a spring concert that year.  I started private lessons in 7th grade while still taking ballet three times a week 40 minutes away.  Eventually my parents told me if I dropped ballet, they’d put the money toward a trip to Europe.  Naturally, I took them up on it, and though I loved ballet, it wasn’t that fun for me any more. 

In high school, I took both choir and orchestra classes, as well as private lessons.  One day my cello teacher said, “Oh by the way, I got you an audition with the cello professor at BYU, so tomorrow instead of your lesson with me, I’m taking you over to play for him.”

Well, ok, thanks for the advance warning. 

I went and played for him and he said he’d take me on as a student.  I thought, “Great, now I have to go home tell my parents how much this guy charges for lessons.”  They agreed without any hesitation though.  My mom later told me how much my dad spent on piano, organ, and voice lessons in college.  They understood.

To make a long story longer, I decided I wanted to continue my studies with Roger Drinkall and I went to BYU as a cello performance major which always kind of surprised me.  I get incredibly nervous performing for people, but so many times, it was confirmed to me that I was in the right place, doing the right thing.  I loved my college years.  I met people like me!  I didn’t know there were any.  I got to enjoy classes in music theory, music history, string literature, string pedagogy, world music cultures, conducting, chamber music, and of course all the performing opportunities.  I graduated cum laude with a bachelor of music degree, moved back home, and didn’t have a job.  You know how it is with musicians!

Actually, what I always really wanted to be was a wife and mother and being a musician complements my life so well.  I teach a few students each week and I spend 3 hours on Tuesday nights playing in a really good volunteer community orchestra.  We can handle most of the major orchestra repertoire and it’s a fun challenge for me to play with them.

I’ve also played with a piano trio (piano, violin, and cello) for over eleven years now.  We play at weddings and other fancy affairs, and of course I play at church on occasion.  I’ve done a few freelance recording projects as well here and there. 

I’m glad I can use my talents to enrich the lives of others and pass on some of my musical knowledge and experience while being able to stay at home with my children and watch them grow and progress.  It’s hard to fit practice time in, but I feel that I owe it to my children to show them how important this is to me, and let them see the parable of the talents at work in my life.  For I know that when we use what we’ve been blessed with, we will surely be given more, especially when we use what we’ve been given to bless the lives of others.

I realize I’ve hardly mentioned the cello at all on the blog lately.  I still play.  I still teach.  I still believe in showing my children that I’m willing to spend the necessary time to develop my talents.  But it is definitely a challenge finding time for it these days with 3 (soon to be 4) children, homeschooling, and everything else I have going on right now.  It is especially difficult right now to make it to orchestra and sit up straight and concentrate on music for 3 hours.  I will take a sabbatical, at least from orchestra, for the next few months, but I can’t even imagine giving it up for good.  My cello is one of my oldest and dearest friends!  I’ve owned this particular instrument for 19 years now.  I love being able to play beautiful music and hope to be at it for many years yet to come.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. October 26, 2009 7:20 am

    How wonderful to have so much talent. I played the piano for a while as a child and never really followed it up.

  2. October 26, 2009 8:05 am

    Happy 25th with the cello!

  3. October 26, 2009 10:27 am

    Congrats on such a wonderful anniversary! The cello is my favorite instrument of all time. I think the sound of a cello is pure heaven.

  4. denise permalink
    October 26, 2009 1:16 pm

    I loved this post! I am impressed with your determination to keep your cello a part of your life.

  5. October 28, 2009 8:39 am

    What a wonderful post. I’m pretty sure that I’ve mentioned before that we are a string family (except me – former flute player). DH plays double bass with a couple of community orchestras. DS is learning viola and DD is learning cello. The kids have been playing for a bit over 4 and 3 years, respectively. We don’t necessarily expect them to be professionals, but would love for them to play throughout their lives. Music is so enriching. Thanks for sharing your love for it with us.

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