This is not the third in the series. I’m still thinking on that one, after the last came out… disjointed, and not really communicating what I hoped it would. I have not found my way sufficiently close to the bottom of that entire mess yet.
But! I got my cello back this week.
I need to buy rosin for it, and a cleaning cloth, and new strings. I haven’t played it in way too long. But it’s heartening, how much is still there – what my hands still remember, not only about what I used to do well but what I used to do poorly. I still remember what I had to work on, what I needed to do better. I know my own sound as well as I ever did, lacking in distinction as it is.
I’ve finally found a place where I don’t associate playing the cello with any guilt whatsoever. Not guilt about not practicing enough; not guilt about not playing well enough; not guilt about sounding out-of-practice. It was always difficult to play it at home, because someone well-meaning would hear and say, “Well! How long’s it been since you played that?” and not mean it badly, but make me feel afraid to be overheard nonetheless.
My cello teacher at college, back when I studied cello performance, told me that once: “Sarah, you have a good sound and a good instinct for interpretation, but you play like you’re afraid someone is going to hear you.” It was the truth, and much of the reason I did not graduate with a degree in cello performance – even sitting in the practice room, soundproofed on every side, I played like I was afraid that someone was going to hear me. I never overcame that.
Time changed that, I think. I used to be amazed by the sounds I could produce, in the few places I was not afraid to make all the noise I wanted to. The cello is an instrument that, if played even the slightest bit correctly, does not sound bad; I have spent half a straight hour just running scales, astounded by the rumble of the vibrating string. I got to have a good moment earlier this week, where I gave up on reading notes on a page and played a song I’d taught myself a couple of years ago (this one). It made me tremble; my heart didn’t slow down for a few minutes afterward. It felt like a performance, and a good performance.
Not a lot of things I do right now are creative. Law school, at the place I’m at now, is not a creative pursuit – it is memorization on top of memorization, and interpretation is not only discouraged but kind of dangerous. I spend most of my time staring at words, on a page or on a screen, and it is so refreshing to have something to do that can be done with closed eyes.