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Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Cello Comfort

Just spent time with one of my oldest friends.

My cello.

I’ve had my cello since I was eight years old. We have had some great times together. Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet at Millikan High. Stravinsky’s Petroushka  in All Southern Orchestra. Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusik in a string quartet. Elgar, Saint-Saens, Bach. 

My teacher hailed from Glasgow, had played in shipboard orchestras round the world and ended up in Long Beach. If I had a good lesson, he would give me a hurl on the back of his motorcycle – sans helmet, usually wearing sandals and just clinging round his ample girth. 

When I considered majoring in music and making it my career, Mr MacKenzie told it like it was: don’t do it. You don’t have the single-minded focus to practice eight hours a day. I was a little offended but couldn’t argue. I like a mix in my life.

But despite my dalliance with other things, when I come back to my cello I return to a deep part of me. I can hear that some of the former skill has slipped, but as my fingers crawl over the strings I remember those former days and sometimes catch a fleeting glimpse of them in the sweetness or resonance of the sound. My cello remains my friend, a voice through which emotions can sing or weep.

This morning I practiced because I have the somber privilege of playing in an ensemble for the memorial service of a great woman of faith. I want to bless her grieving family with a beautiful sound that comes from the heart of God. I am nervous that as I play so rarely, I might easily slip up.

May God enable me, and all of us, to somehow ‘channel’ his love to those whose loss is so raw and so deep, and bring them comfort beyond words.

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