Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Remembering Emily

Two weekends ago one of my first cello teachers passed away. In some twist of coincidence, her husband plays baseball with mine. And her husband had visited the camp she worked at the summer I was a camper there. So, I had met him before my husband did.

But I digress.

It was the first time I had really intensive lessons. It was the first time I really delved into learning the cello. It was the first time I played "real" music in orchestra, not watered-down, simplified versions. (We played the overture to The Barber of Seville, the second movement of Tchaikovsky's 5th Symphony, the 2nd movement of Beethoven's 7th Symphony) Emily had me study Saint-Saens' Swan from the Carnival of Animals. Not only did I learn it, but she had me perform it at an all-camp assembly, from memory and with a piano accompaniment and a dancer. Never had someone had so much confidence in me that I could pull something like that off. She taught me to "feel" music rather than just play it.

There are times you know your musicianship is being changed. There's definitive moments to the shaping of who you are as a musician. For me, the first one was studying with Emily. She taught me to not be self-conscious when I play. To try making things up as I go along. To just take risks as a musician.

Now I wonder. I've posted my question to the universe as "The Three Only Things" suggests. I asked about what it is I really should be doing, and what it is that I'm meant to do. Hearing about Emily makes me re-visit what it means to me to be a musician and what I want to do with it. It makes me remember what a magical summer that was for me and how I felt like a "real" musician for the first time.

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