Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.

Cello Tales


A year ago, January 9th, 2019, I posted a list of fun stuff I hoped to do. Better than resolutions, these were things that I’d thought about doing over the years but just hadn’t accomplished.

Making a sound on a cello was one of my crazier ideas. It was so crazy in fact that I could never successfully explain just what I meant – or even why it was a thing for me.

A cello at rest.

Probably because I wasn’t even sure myself.

But as of Wednesday, one day short of a full year later, because of two lovely ladies who went out of their way to make my wish come true, I can check hugging a cello off my to-dream list.

Learning the basics, with Joan, our host, standing in the back and Carol with her cello.

And I’m not so sure I can find words to share the experience with you.

Joan got a lesson too.

Our host was a professor from my days at the University of Michigan’s School of Information. We’ve kept in touch off and on over the ten years since I graduated and last month she read about my cello hugging dream and knew that she could help me realize it.

Learning how to hold the bow.

She coordinated with a cello playing friend of hers who, it turns out, didn’t mind at all letting some novice stranger sit with her cello and hold her bow while making noises unrelated to music.

Carol was so patient.

There’s a lot to playing a cello. Two hands doing different things, one bulky instrument leaning against you, knees and arms encircling it’s girth. Fingers to grip the bow just so, relax the shoulder, movement from the elbow only, the angle of the bow on the strings, how the fingers of the left hand press down just from the tips. What to do with your left thumb.

Turns out Joan’s husband was a natural.

So much to remember.

But when I got everything right a low round tone would swell out of the instrument. Not as beautiful a sound as when our instructor played, but still pretty nice. And each time I played a clear note I could feel the sound reverberate right though my soul and fill me up.

Not quite a virtuoso, but smiling.


There was so much to remember that I couldn’t take my eyes off of my own hands to look at music. Which is just as well. Because, well, cello music!

I thought it was written in base clef and it often is. But when the notes get high enough it switches to treble clef! So you could be reading along and suddenly your brain would have to switch clefs? And to make it even more insane, there’s also a tenor and an alto clef!

Carol played for us after we were finished making noise on her cello.

I saw at least three clefs on one of the pieces of music she shared with us. The different clefs are needed because the cello has such a wide range of notes, from very low to quite high. All those notes won’t fit on any single staff…so the composer can just include several different clefs in a single piece, and those talented cello players deal with it.

Mind boggling.

The next time I’m enjoying cellos playing in the symphony or a quartet, or even in a DC subway, I’ll have a better understanding and admiration for their talents. The sounds are spectacular. The brains and hands of the artists are astounding.

Those fingers on the left hand had no clue what they were doing.

It was so much fun. I am indebted to the women who willingly shared their lives and time with me just so I could learn something about an instrument I have always admired. If everyone could hug a cello the world would be a better place, and I’m grateful to have had the experience.

I drove home in late afternoon sunshine under fat, purple bottomed clouds that were chasing a three quarter moon. I tried to pinpoint what the experience had felt like.

It felt round and strong and deep and soft, sort of like the golden light falling all around me as I drove.

It felt beautiful.

The moon rises over a wonder filled day.

Author: dawnkinster

I'm a long time banker having worked in banks since the age of 17. I took a break when I turned 50 and went back to school. I graduated right when the economy took a turn for the worst and after a year of library work found myself unemployed. I was lucky that my previous bank employer wanted me back. So here I am again, a long time banker. Change is hard.

27 thoughts on “Cello Tales

  1. This made me smile and gave me goosebumps, Dawn. I have always been entranced by a symphony orchestra, but now I will keep my eye on the cello player. Who knew?! Have you seen that movie “Bucket List” with Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman? It’s wonderful. That is what this post reminded me of. It was a wonderful read.


    • Thank you Lois. I never saw the movie Bucket List, though I remember when it came out it was on my ‘bucket list’ to see. Glad you enjoyed the read, I enjoyed the whole experience, including everyone’s comments here.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi, Dawn,

    Your absolute joy is reflected in the pictures and your words. I am glad that you were able to savor the magical moment. Another experience checked off your bucket list! Thank you for sharing! 😊


  3. I am so happy you had this wonderful experience!! The cello has a wonderful sound. Like the violin there is so much to think about as you said. What a wonderful way to spend an afternoon!


  4. Very cool. I played cello for a year when I was in 5th grade, but switched to trumpet in 6th. I wouldn’t mind learning again… Anyway, looks like you had a great time.


  5. You did it!
    So cool that you “could feel the sound reverberate right though my soul and fill me up.”
    And all the clefs? Who knew? That makes me respect cello players all the more! They are truly the bad assets of the orchestra!
    Good for you!


  6. This looks like so much fun. I played violin as a girl but never got the hang of the cello. Maybe I need to follow your lead and give it a go now? I like sitting and hugging, so I might be off to a good start!


  7. Congrats, Dawn — I’m sitting here with a BIG smile on my face and a warm-fuzzy feeling in my heart. You did it — woo hoo!! Looks like you had a blast, too. I didn’t know that about the clefs. It’s hard enough reading flute music with all those upper register notes; I can’t fathom the brain freeze I’d probably experience having to read a different clef entirely. I’m glad you got a chance to hug that cello — we all should pursue our fondest dreams. Thanks for sharing your experience with us!


  8. Wonderful, wonderful post and you have touched me with your experience.

    There is something, isn’t there, about the mellow, lower registers – all the base instruments move me in ways the higher registers do not.

    While you are checking out the Bucket List movie, you might want to look for Truly Madly Deeply which features spectacular acting on the part of the leading couple, but also a Bach duet – piano and cello.


    • I will add that movie to my list, thank you! Yes, there truly is something about those lower notes that connects with me in a way the higher ones don’t. Even on the clarinet I enjoy the lower register a whole lot more than the squeaky top notes!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Yeah for you! Doing something that was on your list! My grandson plays the Cello such an awesome instrument!




  11. Happy tears here. 🙂 So incredibly happy … and yet with such deep feelings and thoughts. Oh, my, for a cello to hug. You said it so well, Dawn. It absolutely is on my list!
    Oh, I happened to mention your quest to a friend of mine who played French Horn … she teared up too. We both love French Horns, Cellos, and Bassoons. And, she says, those three instruments often play just off the beat, they often play in concert with each other. So I think I’ll drag her off somewhere to play a cello too. 🙂


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