So, in the midst of all the holiday craziness, including my in-laws having been in town, I’ve been preparing (or at least trying to prepare) for my recital. So far it’s kinda hit-and-miss — three hours one day, none the next, and so on. The lack of consistency is hard for me. Even missing just a day I get depressed and start wondering what I’m doing and why I think I can ever learn to become even so much as a not-awful cellist. Here I am, 27 years old with a degree in economics working 12 hours a week at the county library instead of a real job because of the cello. A former boss of mine was ready to give me Assistant Store Manager at the company she works for and I had to say no, because of the cello. Even though it had benefits and I haven’t had insurance in two years. Because I couldn’t guarantee that I would be able to get to my weekly lesson, that I wouldn’t have enough time to practice, that I couldn’t take theory classes, that I’d be too tired from working to learn as effectively. All this for the cello, and no guarantee that I will ever be any good.
Yet it is the only choice. I spent my whole life feeling that something was missing, always searching, falsely finding it in other things. Then, having given up, I did not recognize what I’d found when I started playing the cello. I remember one day, perhaps a couple months into playing, my teacher asked me to tell her about myself, besides the fact that I love playing the cello. I love playing the cello? I didn’t get it even then. How could I have been so clueless?
It wasn’t until after my first recital that I realized what I’d found. Two days before the recital, my teacher decided to introduce dynamics to me and asked me to apply them to the songs I was performing at the recital, most especially in Twinkle Twinkle. In the two intervening days, I practiced as much as I could, fascinated by this new concept she called dynamics. The recital wasn’t all that eventful. I was nervous, didn’t play my best. Fairly typical. But it was the days between the recital and my next lesson that were important. Having accomplished what she wanted me to for the recital, I was left to my own imagination for daily practice. With the idea of dynamics having taken hold of me, I worked on the next five songs in Suzuki, just so I could figure out what dynamics to apply to those songs and how to play what I’d thought to do. Nothing in the world had ever captivated me so much. I would sit down to practice and when I looked up to check the time it would be three hours later. It was then that I finally recognized I’d found something important.
When I get to thinking how crazy I must be to have rearranged my whole life around the cello, I reflect on what I just shared with you, and I realize it would be even crazier not to.