Cello Challenge

I remember being in infant school, when I was about 6, and getting to playing a cello one day. The whole class could have a go, so I did and I played “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” – I loved it! I can remember hearing the deep sound and the familiar tune and I was playing it! I went home and told my Mum I wanted cello lessons! Then one day in junior school I was called out of class for my music lesson – do what?!? The teacher told me that my Mum had booked me in for music lessons, so that day was my first lesson along with 2 other girls, one who I can remember could not sing in the shower (I have no idea what this question was about but I can still remember it as if it was yesterday!), so this sounds all very exciting BUT the teacher hands us this piece of wood (it was a “bow”, it taught you how to hold it correctly, just it wasn’t an actual bow). So I’m all like, hell yeah, this is great, where is my cello?!? The teacher starts telling us how to hold the bow, wow, this was a little weird, but ok, I managed it, then we had to say some taa’s or something as note values, I can’t remember much about those specifics – at this point I was still very confused because my Mum had not mentioned anything about me starting lessons to me.

So I was young and went along with it and did what the nice lady said for probably the entire of 20 minutes, although it seemed like way longer.
Then as she was giving us our home work, she was telling us about remembering to practice holding the stick correctly for ten minutes a day (or something), then we would see how we got on over the course of the week with the exercises she’d given us and then we would get our violins to practice on.

Now, as grateful as you could be to have been booked in for a music lesson when you are clearly musical, being booked in for a violin lesson when you wanted to play the cello is not the way forward!

Unfortunately, the lessons did not last that long, I had a few but I did not like to practice in front of everyone at home, I just wanted to be away in my own quiet space getting on with it.

When I was in year 4, the brass teacher showed up to class one day and spoke to us about trumpets. She probably spoke about other instruments as well, but I clearly only heard “trumpet”. She wrote her name on the board and that night I went home and told my Mum about this lady and that she teaches trumpet, you could only start trumpet lessons when you had your big front teeth like I did.

I shortly started trumpet lessons and at some point after I’d been playing a while, I remember going in to the music shop that was up our high street at the time and trying out several different models, and finally deciding that the one I still have today was my favourite one to hold and play. I had trumpet lessons right the way through junior and senior school, I was in the orchestra, and the choir. I love music, I wish I could play all the music. I was still having music lessons while I was at college, although with a different music teacher at this point. I had decided I never liked the idea of exams so I didn’t want to do them but I sort of wish someone had made me as I think I would have played more and a bit better.

I am still not sure why to this day I chose the trumpet, because I hate being the centre of attention and with a trumpet everyone will definitely hear you when you play – if you get it right or mess it up, they will certainly hear you! That’s not to say that there is an instrument that you can miss in an orchestra but of all the instruments to pick if you want to just be part of the orchestra and not picked out as there are not many of you, the trumpet is probably the worst one to have picked! My music teacher in secondary school that ran orchestra, even wrote parts for me specially, as I could not hit the high notes of the sheet music that came with the other’s music, say for first violins, and second violins, she always transposed some from else where or wrote it out herself so that she could give me something at my level to play. Thinking about it now – how amazing was that!?! We played the Spice Girls song “Mama” one year for the concert and she gave me a great piece of music that I could, and did play, it was clearly a mix of piano right and left hand I guess, as most of it was pretty punchy and played the actual tune but at the same time held up the backing melody really strongly.

Another time the orchestra played “I can see clearly now the rain has gone” and every time I hear that line all I hear is “I can see clearly now the rain has gone, d, d, ddd, du….” the d’s being my trumpet part in case that wasn’t clear! 🙂

I didn’t really do anything once I got to university with my trumpet playing, I’m not sure if there was a group to join or not but I don’t remember really looking for one.

Just before Christmas 2017 I was walking through Canary Wharf shopping centre and could hear some music being played, then I could see a crowd around where the music was coming from. There were three guys on stage, one was playing a violin, and the other two were playing a cello each. I must have slowed right up as I walked closer to the crowd as I came to a stop and just stood there enjoying the sounds vibrate through me. Parents were stood there with their young toddlers and the toddlers were, by nature dancing around in front of the trio, their parents dancing with them at the sidelines (any excuse right!), the sound was amazing. They stopped playing for a break so I carried on to do my food shopping and on my way out they were again playing so I had another chance to listen before deciding I probably looked like a weirdo loitering so I went to catch the DLR home, Googling them frantically whilst waiting for my train. They are called Ember Trio – if you haven’t heard of them go look them up as they are awesome!

So probably a month an a half on, and I am still looking up cello online, YouTube has lots of artists who play the cello in case you also didn’t realise like me until now, but there are also not very many musical instrument shops in the real world any more! The one I used to go to while at uni in Leicester closed down the other year I found out whilst searching for places to look at and touch an actual cello. I don’t know what size I would need as I am quite short and do not have very long fingers – they are not even long at all, more “very short”, and from the information I have found online so far, I could possibly do with a 3/4 one but there were some reasons a 1/2 sized might be better but without seeing one in real life it is hard to say as it is dependent on so many factors. I posted a comment on Ember Trio’s Facebook page about how I saw them in Canary Wharf and ever since, the desire to learn the cello has been pulsing through my veins like it is venom. I even got a reply, where they suggested renting a cello, which after feeling like a giggly 14-year-old all over again, I thought that could be a good option. So where do I do that then???

I have decided, that over the next week I am going to try to get to an actual music shop, this weekend is probably a write off as I have been off sick with some crap virus so I am supposed to be resting at home – which I am not very good at! But I have spent most of Tuesday – Thursday asleep in bed which is something, it’s just the times like now that I could be practicing on a real cello instead of writing about it online! Haha!

So, the cello challenge, I am challenging myself to find a real life cello, work out what size I need, then see if somewhere can rent me one and how much that will cost. At the same time, I am going to have to start a cello fund… sure there are lessons online and even via Skype, however even a couple of real life 121 lessons would probably get me off to a good start. I think that also will require a separate section in my Filofax to keep tabs on it! Haha! Ooh the excitement! As well as another goal on the list of goals for 2018…

If anyone has some suggestions or advice about playing the cello, post in the comments below! Hopefully soon I can be annoying my neighbours with some “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” until it sounds amazing! 😀

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