I remember, so well, the day I went to the orchestra/band room at my school. I was in the 7th grade. I wanted to play an instrument and be in the orchestra....but, what instrument? The music director, Mr. Blackman, said to go into a practice room and he would bring me an instrument and I would spend time alone with it...and when I was ready he would bring me another...a stringed instrument was what I wanted.
Mr. Blackman was the finest teacher a kid could ever have. We all loved him and he was supportive to us all. I owe him everything cello as he went to bat for me when I had no one. I don't see this kind of thing happening today. I was one lucky kid to have him on my side.
But, back in the practice room, I spent time with the violin but didn't like the sound...too high...the viola was boring and too big to hold under the chin...too inbetween for me...then he brought the cello...I soon knew that the sound..poor as it was coming from a kid...was my sound. I tried the bass fiddle also and liked it but it was not practical , I thought ,and too deep and a bit boring in sound. So , it was to be the cello for me....I was then assigned a school cello. It is very vague what happened between then and the next chapter...getting a teacher. I believe he helped me and gave me a book and I did it myself. I know I loved it and the orchestra. I always felt/feel an internal excitement about the cello from my very first encounter with it.
I came from a very non-supportive home environment and there was resistance to getting me a teacher and a cello ...to say the very least. Mr. Blackman repeatedly called my Mother until she gave in on the teacher and he found Mr. Liberti. How he got him to teach me, I do not know but, Mr. Blackman performed magic in my eyes. Mr. Liberti was with the Cleveland Orchestra and was the best !! Everytime I touch a cello, I use what Mr. Liberti taught me. I was a lucky kid to have him. Then, this whole thing with getting my own cello started...I was using a school instrument and was allowed to bring it home every night. Getting a cello took a lot longer and a lot of drama was attached to it as there was serious resistance to this idea.....Mr. Blackman made several calls to my Mother and finally, she relented. He even sent the salesman to our home and I got a "student" cello. As I look back, I marvel at the effort and commitment to me this teacher had. He made a huge impact on my life.
The next 5 yrs went by quickly. I practically lived at school in the bandroom....I was in orchestra, danceband with the drums and back up bass...and my love...the polka band with bass fiddle. During the summer I was in All- City Orchestra with kids from all over the city. I played at Severance Hall twice with our little Orchestra....a huge deal. The usual contests and recitals....it was a wonderful time. I was happiest in the band room playing my cello....I took it everywhere....I dragged it to school and back home every day in all kinds of weather....back then, we walked to school(we never had a car). I named my first cello, Oscar! I was very serious and had my sights set on the The Cleveland Orchestra.
It was towards the end of my last HS year (12th) that things took a different turn. I became engaged toward the end of my last year . The wedding was scheduled a few months after my graduation. About a month or so before graduation, Mr. Blackman came to me and told me he obtained a full scholarship for me from Oberlin University for cello performance...My dream was to go to Oberlin and then, of course, onto the CSO.
It was a different time with different expectations back then. Today, this scenario would not play out in the same way as it did for me back then. I turned this scholarship down for another path to my future. Thus ending my cello dream.
to be continued....several decades later in Part 2......
Some quotes from a man who has been an inspiration thru out my life:
"Music is the divine way to tell beautiful, poetic things to the heart." - Pablo Casals
"The most perfect technique is that which is not noticed at all." - Pablo Casals
When Casals (then age 93) was asked why he continued to practice the cello three hours a day, he replied, “I’m beginning to notice some improvement.”
A young Mellow Cello from yearbook:-)