So Thursday and Friday, I did this thing – tested cello bows. This is my second bow upgrade since I began lessons in September 2017 and I took a really big step! Seriously, I gave myself a low-level carbon fiber bow for Christmas after playing with the lowest level student bow for several months (I still have it but it has been put away in a box!!) I really enjoyed the first upgrade and was pleasantly surprised that my playing sounded better and that the bow was easier to manage. I even had just enough confidence that I purchased the cello I had been renting. Scary.
Several months back I decided I loved playing cello. I am certainly not going to ever be the next Yo-Yo Ma (ha!) or Nancy Bateman or Rebekah Miller. No way!! They are my cello playing heroes! But like with some other things in my life, choir, for example, I can be a decent ensemble player if I just work at it. I think that realization came when some of the basic mechanics (who knew that there were so many moving parts and things to think about?) of playing stopped being stressful and became, at times, music. I was encouraged even more to stretch myself and to explore outside my comfort zone. Heck. I realized I “liked” playing scales and thirds and trying weird technical exercises! I hated that when I was taking piano and tolerated it when playing the trombone. Maybe it is an “age thing!”
So, I started looking at a real bow upgrade (and, don’t tell Steve, but a cello upgrade, too – still looking at that; need to reach some of my next goals before going there.) I actually only ordered two bows to try but the nice rep from SHAR called and let me know that for the same $25 trial fee I could try four of them. I told him to send them on.
I have been serious about practice this summer – I play usually 40-50 minutes almost every day, seldom less and even occasionally more. Thursday, when the bows arrived, I played everything I am working on plus some favorites using all four bows. I was super surprised there was so much difference from one bow to the next. Rebekah had cautioned me that what matters is how the bow sounds on my cello and how it feels to me. I played them all multiple times and then lined them up in the box in the order I liked them. The top two included one I selected for trial and one selected by SHAR.
Yesterday, I headed over to Belhaven to meet Rebekah Miller, my amazing teacher and friend. She patiently listened as I played the C major scale and parts of the Bach Minuet #1 with each of them. Honestly, sometimes I think I need to purchase noise cancellation earplugs for her when I play Bach!! I still liked best the one I liked on Thursday. I liked its sound and how it felt. It is a little heavier than the Presto carbon fiber bow I have been using but I heard my cello sing in a different way from before.
The best part of the whole assessment was having Rebekah play my cello using all the trial bows. Oh.my.goodness. I could have listened all afternoon! Scales and parts of an etude and parts of the Dvorak concerto she is working on. Since I am a visual learner in large part, I loved watching how she embraces the instrument and attacks the notes making music. And I got to hear it more than 4 times because she repeated all of those with all the bows and then went back to the top two and then to the final one, a German Joseph Shuster bow, we agreed was best. Wow.
This was not really a “lesson” but, as always, I got one. And I got to play a new piece I am working on that is coming along nicely.
I am getting ready to drop the bows I am returning at FedEx. The new bow has already been played this morning (early practice since we are headed out-of-town for a few days). I already like it but did realize this morning that I was holding the thing with a death grip! Will work on that when I get back (that happened last switch, too).
I guess the moral of this tale is, don’t be afraid to try new things. Don’t be afraid to follow a path God puts before you. Prior to starting lessons last fall, I had forgotten how much I loved learning and how much I really loved classical music. I had gotten away from music as pure enjoyment and had just not made time to experience something really new. Frankly I think I was afraid I of failure. I reminded myself and some other friends, though, even yesterday that those who have never failed have never attempted anything. That is important for all of us to remember.
In Hebrews 10:35-36 NIV, we are reminded:
So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.
I am certain the writer of Hebrew was NOT talking about a 60 something year-old learning to play cello! I am equally certain, though, the writer is reminding us we must constantly and with confidence seek Him and follow where He leads, though we may not know where He is leading us.
Seek Him today. If it takes “bowing along” to get you back to Him and seeking His face, then do it.
Still Choosing Joy!