Saturday, May 05, 2007


On blogging and learning the cello - Part 1

Approximately 18 months ago I abruptly changed the direction that my "declining" years were apparently headed, and allowed myself to succumb to two passions that had always lingered on my wish-list. On the barest of whims, I suddenly rented a cello - after not touching any musical instrument for more than 25 years. That day, I also started this blog.

For as long as I can remember I'd been beating myself up with guilt and remorse because I was wasting my opportunity to learn an instrument. All along, I never had any pretensions that I would become a professional musician, nor even that good of an amateur. But I've always wanted to just be able to make beautiful music, both by myself and along with others. I had pretty much convinced myself that it was indeed "too late". At various times in my first 30+ years, I'd experimented with learning the piano, the clarinet, and the violin. For a variety of reasons, these attempts fizzled. After a painful end to my violin career, I essentially set aside my musical ambitions and focused my energies on other things - a reasonably successful and rewarding career as another wally in the working world.

I'd also always considered myself a frustrated writer. When I was young and idealistic, I imagined that one day I'd write a novel, and in spare moments I tried my hand at writing stories, articles, etc., but without success. In my early years, I filled notebooks with story ideas, drafts, etc. But writing by hand was always cumbersome; I was too hesitant to actually put pen to paper, dreading having to rewrite it all after editing (and I edit - a lot - as I write). When I bought my first computer in 1984, I immediately discovered the "release" of keyboarding, the liberation of those backspace and delete keys, the freedom of being able to edit without rewriting. I found that by getting my thoughts down on paper faster - thinking through both hands - I could keep up with my creative process and was much more satisfied with the results.

I was deeply involved with my job at that time and channeled it all in that direction. And I became a reasonably good technical writer, which helped boost me up that corporate ladder...

After retiring, I obviously had lots of free time. For a few years I dabbled a bit with this and that - woodworking, learning AutoCAD, even some web design - also lots of internet time. But none of these had any lasting appeal. I really liked woodworking, but one day I woke up suddenly unable to use my various saws, drills, planers, and shapers (I think it was the shaper that actually did it). Just like people can suddenly develop a fear of heights, I developed an unfounded fear of power-tools. (In truth, there's more to that - I mangled my forefinger in a table saw accident 25 years ago, which is why I stopped trying to learn the violin, but that's another story.)

As I faced yet another winter, I was determined not to just vegetate through another one. I had been thinking a bit about blogging. I'd even begun to scan a few blogs, but only half-heartedly. I really didn't feel as if I had that much to say; I had no theme to build it on.

Then I saw an ad for a used viola for sale: right-time, right-place. I called and made arrangements to meet her to try it out. But then as I thought about it, I realized that the viola was just not for me (I guess you could insert your favorite viola joke here). I had always wanted to play the cello; why not go for it? So I canceled the tryout and called the strings store in Anchorage about renting a cello. The next day I drove to Anchorage and paid for a two-month rental contract along with a handful of basic lesson books.

Concurrently, I realized that I now had a theme to blog about. That night, I signed up with Blogger as Guanaco and started Cellomania.

OK, I now realize that this is turning out to be a longer topic than I had originally planned. I had intended to discuss how my blogging and my cello playing interact - I guess that's the subject of my next post.

Thanks for sharing your blogging/instrumental history. It's great that you decided to give a go at both a stringed instrument and at blogging, and I like reading your blog.

I also like all of the new template addition you've added to your blog. There's a lot you can do with Blogger if you don't mind getting your hand dirty and mucking about in code@
Looking forward to part 2. You have no idea how much of an inspiration you've been to me over the past 6 months since I've been reading your blog ... not just for cello and blogging, but also for diet, exercise, dedication and discipline. Thank you!
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