1. I am not a world-famous player of concertos or a member of the Berlin Phil. I’ll probably never perform the Dvorak Concerto in front of a rapturous audience or release a definitive recording of the Shostakovich Sonata. But I am a musician and I can be as much of an artist as I choose to be.
2. I love learning, and I’m happy to learn slowly and thoroughly rather than rapidly but erratically.
3. I accept the fact that without an extra finger or string I’ll never play Bach’s 6th Solo Suite.
4. In music there are simple and elegant answers to many of life’s complex and awkward questions.
5. Sitting on my expensive pernambuco bow will definitely break it.
6. Practising artificial harmonics may be considered by one’s spouse as grounds for divorce.
7. My cello treats me precisely as well or badly as I treat her.
© D C Cello Studio
3 thoughts on “Things My Cello Taught Me”
It’s called “pernambuco”, actually.
However, very nice blog.
Corrected now. Thanks for pointing it out – typing and spelling are not my strong points. Glad you like my blog!
A thoughtful response from one of my students:
An old blogger’s reply to imagined criticism
Things my cello has yet to teach me and may never do.
1. To be a musician, not merely one of those people of whom Sir Thomas Beecham reputedly
said, “The English do not understand music, but they love the sound it makes.” Even if I could claim
musicianship, any claim to artistry is another matter. I do not begin to see how I could begin to make
any such claim in any performing or creative art, and if I did I should be met with open-mouthed
disbelief even among those with a very wide or liberal view of what art is.
2. I cannot help but learn, I think, and have been accused of being almost too thorough. I do enjoy
learning and believe that end of curiosity is the beginning of death.
3. Without a completely new set of shoulders, arms, hands and fingers, I’ll never be able to play the
cello or any other worthwhile musical instrument.
4. Music gives expression to many thoughts and feeling and emotions, but I am not at all sure that
I’ve found answers to life’s questions, worries, doubts or uncertainties.
As I sat reading the blog and listening to The Lindsay String Quartet (Mark II – Robin Ireland for
Roger Bigley) playing Schubert’s Death and the Maiden Quartet on LP, I felt almost like Keats’
naughty boy – at any rate I wondered. I kept hearing Fischer-Dieskau singing, “Sei gutes Muts, Ich
bin nicht wild, Sollst sanfft in meinem Armen schlafen.” It could as easily have been Janet Baker
(another of my favourite singers). Either way the piece in whatever form raises impossible questions
more than answering them. It is all very well for older people to accept the prospect of death with
equanimity, but quite another for a maiden or youth. What seventeen, eighteen or twenty one year
old would wish to contemplate death at all let alone with good cheer and a willingness to sleep gently
in its arms? Schubert has many other pieces especially songs with death as their theme
Death is not and does not resemble a person however often he she or it is personified by writers
painters or composers. Is death to be accepted, defeated, feared, fought against, welcomed or what?
Is death an end, the end, a change, a beginning, a dream, a figment or what? Many composers have
written about death but they do not necessarily have answers. In a note to the last movement of his
last string quartet, Opus 135, Beethoven wrote, “Muss es sein? And he answered his own question in
the affirmative. That does not tell us very much. Explanations run on the one hand from a domestic
demand for money, reluctantly accepted to forebodings of his own death and on the other hand to an
impish puzzle posed for posterity. “Chuzz ‘ah!” as he might have said had he been a Yorkshireman.
What I have found in music is an infinite range of thoughts and feelings, which, although they and
music may in a sense be ephemeral, suggest that music is beyond the limits and scope of time and
space. It is of its own kind, unique and universal, and despite what scholars, analysts, critics and
philosophers have written about it, seemingly beyond analysis or understanding. It is there to be
enjoyed or not, loved or hated, accepted or rejected, absorbed or rejected, noticed or ignored at will
individually by each of us in his or her own way, and of course it does affect and move some of us
not at all and others profoundly and inexplicably.
5. A child must have coined the delightful Milnism “perumbuco”. Christopher Robin perhaps.
6. So too may merely “playing” the cello, by some at least.
7. How to understand and enjoy algebra.
Does any of this make sense, or am I just playing silly bloggers?