Cello Stock Free Photo from Pixabay

A Lost Musician

I played the cello from third grade until twelfth grade. As my parents could tell you, the process started off with the sounds of a dying cat. On my first day of third grade, we were finally old enough to pick an instrument and play in the band or orchestra. I came home with the cello. My mom asked, “Why did you pick the biggest string instrument?” I replied, “Well, technically it’s the second biggest.”

From that moment on, I could be found practicing in the living room, begging my mom to buy another cello book, waving at my parents from the stage during orchestra concerts as my mom would wake my dad from his power nap, and staying after school for orchestra rehearsals all the way through high school.

6th Grade Winter Orchestra Concert

Even as all my friends began to drop out of the orchestra, my love for music–my love for my cello–was something I wasn’t willing to give up to follow in fashion with my friends.  But when the end of high school was drawing near, I began to struggle to figure out how I was going to incorporate music into my dream of being a journalist.

December 10, 2016, was the most important day of my life.

It was the day of my music minor audition at Ithaca College’s Whalen School of Music. All journalism students at Ithaca College need to have a minor outside of their department, and that worked perfectly for me.

During the summer of 2016, I worked a horrible part-time job to pay for private cello lessons and brush up on my technique. As my audition day drew closer and closer during the Fall 2016 semester, I was practicing every day in my dorm room. I would practice for hours, disturbing the residents on my floor, serenading my roommate to sleep, and playing my pieces over and over until the callus was building up on the tips of my fingers causing unbearable pain.

On the morning of December 10, I was freaking out before I left for my audition and frantically tried to call my mom for her words of wisdom. After trying her phone three times and my sisters, I decided to call my dad and he picked up on the first ring.

To this day I will never forget what he told me.

He said, “Show them what you’re made of my little butterfly. They don’t know how good you are. So perform.”

A couple weeks later, I was accepted as a music minor and left campus with my cello for winter break. The tips of my fingers were starting to recover and I had finally found a way to incorporate music into my life.

It was my sophomore year of college and I would be able to complete the music minor in the two years that I had left at Ithaca. After planning out my music classes for the next two years with my new music minor advisor, I found out that students cannot study abroad with a music minor. At least for me, it was not feasible as music minors are required to have four consecutive semesters of private lessons…and I only had four semesters left.

My heart dropped to my stomach. I had come into college planning to minor in music, planning to prove that all these years of rehearsals and concerts, and practices weren’t for nothing, planning to make all my past conductors proud of my continuation, planning to keep music a part of my life, a part of me.

It was for nothing.


I didn’t touch my cello for a whole year.

Looking at it made me sad. I could see the disappointment on everyone’s faces as they heard I had to switch my minor from music to writing, a more attainable minor.

They would ask why, and I would grow more upset. I would look at the blue case my cello rested in, and I let it wither away just as my passion for music did.

One day during my 2017 winter vacation and right before my journey to Australia, I took the blue case out my closet, tuned the loose strings, sat in my chair with my empty music stand, cello prepped, bow in hand, and cried alone at home.

After my tears had dried from my eyes, I played Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1 Prelude in G.

I held the last chord until I could hear it in my mind forever.


(Listen to Bach’s Cello Suite No.1 Prelude here.)









4 thoughts on “A Lost Musician

  1. Oh Dani! You made me laugh in the beginning (your mom waking your dad from his power nap! I’m dying!) and you made me cry at the end. This is beautiful. But may I just say, you can play the cello beautifully now. Your involvement with it does not have to be over. You can take it out of your closet any time and maybe after college, you can find an ensemble to play with, or start one of your own! I love you, and love this. Rosemarie

    Liked by 1 person

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