Serious Case of the Mondays
February 1, 2015|Posted in: Uncategorized
It happens every week. I pack up my cello and load my bag full with tall, fat music folders, the folding music stand, my purse, a pencil, my calendar, and as I head for the door I turn back to collect my rock stop at the foot of my stand in the music room. I will forever be in need of yet another rock stop.
I drive cautiously with my cello in the backseat. I’m not distracted, but I’m highly aware of the comings and goings of every vehicle on the road. Constantly feeling relief that I’ve made it through another intersection avoiding disaster. My brother called my cello “my sword” on my drive to college. My mother wanted to take the cello in her car, but I insisted that I take it with me in mine. Looking back, she was just protecting what had been hers. It was her sword first, after all.
Just before rehearsal begins, I tell our conductor how tired I am of rehearsing this music (complete with a singular melodramatic eye-roll), we’ve been practicing it for about 5 months now. And truthfully, I am exhausted.
Keep in mind, this is a completely volunteer group. All strings; my favorite. I really do love playing music with these people, but keeping this section together asks me to use all of my weakest leadership skills end over end. I am in a constant state of flux I’ll call confidently uncomfortable. Though I think I come off a bit more like ‘I’m better than you’ and rude. And I’ll tell you right now, I am NOT better than any of them. One member is deaf. Another is elderly and just starting to slow down at 94 years of age. Then there’s a lady that picked up the cello for a new challenge, but is traditionally a violinist. And one more adult beginner that practices her heart out week to week and really knows her stuff, but lacks the confidence to play out and really expand our sound. The problem doesn’t lie with any one of us, it’s that none of us can seem to blend our sounds together. I don’t know that I can help us.
I can quiet a room of raving children. I can lead others through music with my words as a guide. But when I am asked to lead with my skills as a cellist, I falter. I fall susceptible to a state of permanent hesitation. Late entrances. Sluggish bows. I’ve been told I should be in a German orchestra too many times to count. Here’s the downbeat, here’s me. Problem is, we should be together, not so far apart…
Because I hesitate, my section hesitates. If your note is wrong, my note sounds even more wrong. It’s not your fault, though. It’s mine. I’m your leader and I’m doing a poor job of leading you. But I’m working at it. I play in non-paying orchestras. Yes, it’s for the love of music. But it’s also because I need to be better. I have more to learn. I need to learn how to lead with my cello and not hide behind my knowledge of music.
So, Mondays are hard work for me. I think about avoiding every one of them. Staying in bed. Telling those that ask that something personal came up. But I choose to stay in the game because I love to teach. And teaching without learning is just foolish.