Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Why Hello, Cello!

None of us is immune from loss and I am certainly no stranger. The only thing I know to do is allow the feelings as they come and throw myself into something productive. This has resulted in prioritizing time with loved ones over acquaintances, more volunteer work, and artistic expressions.

After my mom passed, many of the hobbies fell to the wayside and Michelle, my close friends, and family became priorities. They were always priorities but now even more so. I also took to knitting for people, something I picked up when my mom was sick so I could knit her a cashmere cowl that was both soft and warm.

Now that Michelley has passed there is a lot of silence. I don't want to run away from it and throw myself into meaningless endeavors. What I do want is to live a life with meaning and intention. For some reason the worrying about what the future will bring has fallen to the wayside. It has been replaced with an awareness of what feels right, what doesn't; what is important, what's not; and finally what to fight for, and what to let go of.

A few years ago I picked up the cello. As one of my million bucket list items I rented a cello, found a teacher, and went every other week to lessons. Surprisingly it felt right. That doesn't mean it sounded right but pish posh. Michelle surprisingly liked my playing, even when it sounded like a distressed cat. But I kept at it and a year later decided to buy a cello. I continued to take lessons until I moved to DC.

Once I moved here there was a new world to get used to. Honestly, my cello became more of a decorative piece in my bedroom than anything else, I'm sad to say. When Michelle first passed the silence was deafening. I felt her presence those first few days and felt like she wanted me to play the cello. So I start tuning and SNAP! a string breaks. Standard Jilly Modus Operandi (SJMO).

The next day I cart off to the violin shop and get a new string. Just being in the shop rekindled that love I have for cello, well hearing other people play cello. I went home and started with one of my Scottish airs. Nope, too soon. So I broke out my old Suzuki books and started to play. What had once taken me months to get through I finished that book in 6 days. Book two was no different and so I bought a book of easy cello Christmas songs. Sight reading, felt natural, only a few things to really tweak.

Every time I sat down to practice it felt better and better. And then this week I decided I had to practice the dreaded vibrato. Ugh. First off, no beginning cellist or stand up bass player likes vibrato. Our strings are heavy and something about moving your elbow up and down while simultaneously stabilizing I have worked on this so much, my normally patient teacher wanting to pull his hair out. I could not get it. I would peruse youtube videos, pester my teacher for more training tips, do bizarre air exercises, drink a glass or two of wine to relax. Nothing, nada, zip. Until this week. I picked it up to try and then immediately I got it. "Fluke," I think as I try the other fingers. It sounded okay... on all of them. I still thought it was a fluke but then it kept happening again and again.

I am now convinced that I have a little intervention from my Sheltie angel. She probably met Pablo Casals and decided that I needed to improve drastically if she was going to have to listen to me from Heaven. But I am enjoying myself again and more so I am finding purpose. I want to be a good enough player that I can join a quartet and play Christmas music at rest homes. Little by little I play my cello, clear my head, and find purpose and meaning again. Thank you, little Sheltie Angel!

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