cello choir

Jul 6, 2010

I have a lofty (sometimes I think ridiculous and overwhelming) goal of learning to play the cello. It all started with a CD from the band Fiddlesticks and their rendition of Praise to the Man. The cello speaks to my soul. It has a deepness and a roundness of sound that travels into every cell of my body and fills me with joy. I love, love, love it.

The problem is I have a few musical faults. I am not very good at theory. I am not very good at note reading and by that I mean, I can generally look at a note on the bass clef staff (the treble clef is no problem for me) and tell you what it is, but translating that into reading notes quickly while moving both hands, scanning ahead to see what is coming next, and monitoring my tone, my breathing, and my bow…pretty much way over my head. I am not very good at playing music I have never heard before. I am not very diligent about practicing. I struggle with consistency and that is exactly what is needed to become a musician.

However, I have a wonderful teacher. She is patient with my faults, works with my strengths, and inspires me to keep trying. I prayed for her to come into my life and God sent her to me. My heavenly petition? A female cello teacher that would come to my home and not make fun of my poor attempts at making music. What God sent? A woman that would become my dear friend, a doula client times two, a goat-milk-soap-making extraordinaire, AND a cello teacher all rolled into one fabulous package of cuteness, talent, and fun. We are going to be friends for the rest of our lives and when I am 80 she will still be teaching me cello. That’s just how it is.

This summer, she has compiled a cello choir for her students that are out of the beginning stage, but not yet into the advanced stage. It is so much fun! We have an 11-year-old girl, a woman pushing seventy, and me, a 36-year-old mother of four. We all have different parts and we practice them at home and then come together to play them. Sometimes we are all out of sync with each other, playing the wrong notes for the wrong length of time, with the wrong mood. But sometimes? Sometimes we actually make music.

As I sat a cello choir today, I watched the faces of my fellow musicians (I use that word very loosely to describe myself!) and thought what a remarkable experience we are sharing together. We are at different stages of life, have different goals, different needs, different tugs on our time, and yet, we come together and play and work and rehearse and learn together. As we do this, we are melding our lives in a special way.

Because, making music together requires the joining of our souls.

For one hour each week, I get to slow down, focus on my music and think about how to help each one of us play our best and magnify the efforts of all. Such fun!

What a privilege!

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  1. Kate

    How cool. Making music with other people brings me just about the most happiness ever. I am thinking that I want to learn the cello. But I don’t know how to make it work, because I’m trying to save for a new violin and housing next year. Who’s your teacher?

  2. Jennifer (the cello teacher)

    You have blessed my life so much and I am grateful that you are crazy. You think outside the box and challenge yourself all the time. You are growing as a musician and as a cellist. By the time we are 80, you will probably be running your own cello choir (while still teaching gymnastics). Thank you for praying me here. Here we will stay. I love you so much!

  3. Tracy, that you can play with others means you’re better than I ever managed in four years of intense lessons and daily practice. I was truly lousy at cello, but I *loved* playing it. After about six months of lessons, my kind instructor very gently asked me about my “goals for cello”… I remember laughing and telling her I knew I kinda stunk and wasn’t getting any better, but that I got a lot of joy out of it, so if she could stand it, I’d like to keep on. She grinned, said, “You *are* improving some…” and off we went for another 3.5 years until I left for college. I’m sure my parents were glad I paid for my own cello and lessons. :)

    • tracy

      Oh, Liz…not true!!! Everyone is really patient with me and I, too, am slowly improving!

      Good to her from you!