My teacher told to me:

Never EVER leave your instrument in your car. For any reason.

Aside from superheating /freezing our delicate wooden boxes to the point of strings popping, bridges falling, seams opening and general archaic misbehavior, theft is the real killer here.

I went to Cal State Northridge. What they couldn’t offer me in scholarships, they made up for in instruments. For my freshman year (and hopefully on), I was to borrow a priceless Gagliano instrument. Oh joy! Even the idea of a loaned cello made me feel a little more cosmopolitan, a little more conservatoire. (In fact, most of my preconceptions about Northridge were incorrect. The faculty was, and remains, hugely imposing in the music world. Happily, they forgave my ignorance and hubris.) Anyway, about a month before school started, the fellow to whom the Gagliano was entrusted went out for some lunch at the local TGI Fridays. The sun was shining, it was a clear summer day in suburban Northridge.

Which made it all the more brutal when he discovered the cello gone from the back of his car. It was later discovered submerged in a bathtub in North Hollywood, if the urban legend is to be believed.

Thieves are by definition people who make bad decisions. They don’t know what it is, but they want it. Then they start thinking and realize that the more valuable a cello is, the less value it has to them. So sometimes it ends up in a dumpster, like the one from the LA Phil did. How lucky!! Other times, the instrument is destroyed or lost forever because the thieves don’t want to leave any trace of their crime.

I have my beloved Cheeto for a few more days, and noticed that I treat it differently than mine. Last night, I was going to head straight to the market after my lessons to get some baking supplies, but felt the cello in the back seat, staring at me like a helpless child. No, I couldn’t leave it unattended at any place, any time. I drove home, made sure it was in the safest, least temperature-fluctuating place, and then headed back out in the rain for my sprinkles and cardamom. Then I got to thinking about my own cello, and that it would be just as devastating to lose it. How silly of me to pay better attention to a borrowed cello.

So if you want to go out to eat, or shop, or whatever, bring your cello with you. Not only will you feel better about the safety of your axe, but you may pick up a gig or a new friend because of it. There’s always room for Cello, you know.

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5 Responses

  1. After my weekly lesson, I used to wander around the huge record shops and bookstores downtown with my cello on my back. It was a bit awkward, but the looks and smiles I got from people made up for it. On the other hand, I did get the ubiquitous "Is that a guitar?" and "Going to give us a concert?" lines…

  2. My 'cellos have had many fine dining experiences. Too bad about "your" Gagliano, though. That would be hard to live with.

  3. Also, an instrument insurance policy is almost always a "personal articles" policy, and a personal articles policy covers instruments UNLESS they are left alone in cars. That means that your instrument is not covered if it is left alone in the car while you go into the grocery store. That means if someone slams into your car in a grocery store parking lot and damages your instrument, it is not covered. Your car insurance doesn't cover your instrument.

    If you instrument is stolen out of your hand, your personal articles policy covers it. If your instrument is damaged in any way–in a rehearsal or in a grocery store–it is covered. If it is left in an otherwise empty car, IT IS NOT COVERED.

  4. Also, I don't understand why people with insurance are suddenly willing to leave their instruments in cars or do risky things with them …. sure insurance might help you fix the fact that the instrument was stolen or damaged, but it will still be stolen or damaged…

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