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Life Lessons from the Cello

Updated: Mar 24, 2021

I recently decided to pick up the cello again, after not playing for 27 years (right after my

son was born). My goal was to enjoy whatever I was able to do – not to put any pressure on myself to perform, but to use this as a way to relax. I had no idea that the cello would be a means of learning some powerful life lessons as well!

I got off to a good start, but then days went by that I didn’t touch the cello. My schedule was packed. I was planning an event at work along with my other responsibilities, I started a college class, and I planned my husband’s birthday.

The day before the work event was stressful. It felt like things were coming at me from several directions. I decided I needed to take a few minutes to pick up that cello, but discovered it had gone way out of tune. Tuning a cello can be a bit challenging and I was struggling. I started with C, then G, the D. As I was tuning the A string, the peg for the D string slipped and the A string snapped. There would be no playing that evening.

I took the cello into the shop on Saturday to get a new A string. I explained my challenges with tuning the instrument to Alan, the string person. While I was at it, I also shared some difficulty I was having keeping the bow on one string at a time.

Alan gave me exactly what I needed to hear. First, he informed me that I had tuned the strings too high. That is a sure way to break a string. He suggested I use a tuning app specifically for cello so I hear the correct tone and don't stretch the strings too tightly. The second tip he gave me was to play the cello for at least five minutes every day. He explained that as I practiced bringing the bow across each string, just 5 minutes a day would help my brain and muscles work together to remember how to do it well so that it would become second nature. He emphasized to do it every day. Just 5 minutes.