When you have a large number of adult students, it seems like everyone takes turns being injured. It’s hard on everyone involved, especially because most people hurt themselves after a breakthrough. A simple case of overuse gets ignored to the point of very serious physical impediment because at long last, when all seemed lost, the student gets a taste of what they came for: beautiful tone, or maybe it’s reliable intonation, maybe a vibrato that begins to rotate on its own.

So you play yourself right into a 6 month hiatus, or worse, the hospital.

And then it begins. No, not The Beguine! Although it would be pretty sweet if some crooner would come sing to your busted hand or sore shoulder and distract you from what’s actually going on: questioning the whole thing, and your place in it.

One of my students has this taped to her cello.

It’s a humorous coping mechanism in the face of an ever more painful right thumb and wrist that is slowly eating into her productive practice time. We’re experimenting with things she can do to minimize or entirely eliminate using her injured paw. So we were finishing up the lesson the other day, her hand wrapped elaborately in KinesioTape and a prescription for rest and gentle pizzicato sight-reading on the docket for the upcoming week, and she said,

“Some day, I’ll be a cellist. Some day, I’ll actually be able to play this thing.”

This is for all of you, in case there was any doubt.

You are a cellist. 

You are a cellist if you’re injured and can’t play. 

You are a cellist if you’re rehabbing from surgery. 

You are a cellist if it sounds like ass. 

You are a cellist if you are convinced it’s a farce. 

Riding high or low in the saddle, you are a cellist. 

If you have delayed gratification, ignored phones and ticked off family and neighbors, you are a cellist.

If you practice, you are a cellist. 

If you enter competitions and never win, you are a cellist. 

If you sit last chair last stand, you are a cellist. 

If you have been in Suzuki book 2 for 3 years but live for Elgar, you are a cellist. 

If the cello means something to you, and you have done your best, you are a cellist. 

Are we clear?

ed: Printable version available here.