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Cello; or, Here we go again

On our way home from our trip to Minnesota for Kristi’s memorial service, we brought back two cellos. One of them is George, which was Kristi’s cello, and the other is a quarter size cello, which was also Kristi’s in a way. She owned many small cellos that she rented to her little students. It’s interesting having these instruments, neither of which feels like “ours” now. It was explained to us very clearly by Majka’s aunt Charis that we are only the custodians of George. He is not ours. He belongs to the family, having originally been bought for Kristi’s mother, Char, when she was young. As for the quarter size, Steve is generously loaning it to us. Once Quinn outgrows it (not anytime soon; it’s a bit big for her so she’s got a way to go before she gets to a half size), we will thank it for its service and send it back to Grandpa Steve.

Quinn and I are both taking cello lessons. Me with George and her with the quarter size cello, which Quinn has named a few times, but nothing has stuck yet. Since I am only in the family through marriage, I especially feel a lack of ownership of George. I am playing it until Quinn is big enough to play it, and I am playing it because I know that Kristi would want it to be played. If, by the time Quinn has grown into George, I still wish to play the cello (I hope so!), I will get my own that will actually be my own.

We’re coming up on our fourth lesson, and it’s strictly pre-Twinkle for Quinn. I really appreciate how far Elsie has come with guitar now that we’re back to square one with Quinn. She is learning how to bow (as in folding at the waist) with her instrument. She is also learning the bow (as in the stick you use to play a stringed instrument) hold.

It’s tricky, that bow hold. I speak from newly acquired experience. Quinn’s bow hold is tenuous at best, and when confronted with the strings of the cello, it instantly collapsed into a baseball bat grip. So there is no bowing of the cello, and I don’t see that happening for a little while to come. There are lots of games with the bow, though (“Up Like a Rocket,” anyone?) as well as finger strengthening and flexibility exercises disguised as games.

With Elsie, she literally did not play a song on the guitar for over a year. Thankfully, there is a song that uses “pizzicato” (a fancy schmancy word for finger plucking, as far as I can tell) rather than bowing (as well as no left hand at all), so Quinn has been able to play something.

Ants, ants, ants

Digging in the dirt, dirt, dirt

Going underground, ground, ground,

Carrying their cellos, cellos, cellos

Ten points to the first person who can guess the purpose of the song! Five bonus points if you can tell me why this technique is not accomplishing its goal with Quinn!


  1. Eliza Freeman wrote:

    The song refers to the A, D,G and C strings??? And Quinn probably doesn’t relate strings to letters of the alphabet – too abstract for 5??? Happy Thanksgiving to you all, and best of luck with the cello lessons.

    Wednesday, November 23, 2011 at 6:44 pm | Permalink
  2. Sonja wrote:

    You definitely get the 10 points! But the bonus answer isn’t *quite* right (although you were on the right track!). Quinn doesn’t know how to read, so she has no idea that ant starts with A (which is the name of the string, etc).

    But it’s still a fun, cute song. :) And it’s helped ME learn the names of the strings. :) :)

    Wednesday, November 23, 2011 at 7:41 pm | Permalink
  3. Kristan wrote:

    Are you teaching her?? Wow. You do so much with your kids, it’s amazing/awesome.

    My friend Mary studied cello and loved it. :)

    Sunday, November 27, 2011 at 11:59 am | Permalink
  4. Sonja wrote:

    Yes and no. We are both taking lessons from someone who actually knows how to play the cello. :) But at the same time, in the Suzuki methodology, parents are extremely involved with their kid’s lessons and practicing. Parents are kind of like assistant teachers who take the lead at home.

    Besides which, Quinn is five years old, so she’s not quite at the point where I could (realistically) say, “Go practice,” and expect her to do it by herself.

    It is a beautiful sounding instrument, and it’s nice, now that Quinn is spending more and more time at school, for us to have “our thing” to do together.

    Sunday, November 27, 2011 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

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