"Only through darkness may we embrace the shafts of light that shine down from Heaven's fo'c's'le." - BettyLou Stevens

Dear Sweet and Loving Chatters, after a long and much needed hiatus, "Ask BettyLou!" has returned! Is there no end to my benevolence, my undying need to give back to my community? It is with the most somber humility and studied reflection that I offer these meager words of advice to solve yet another pustulent rash of cellistic dysfunction.


Dear BettyLou,

I'm looking for a shop in the Kansas City area which can fit a bridge for my cello. Any suggestions? Also, I'm considering an "adjustable bridge" for my cello and wondered what you thought about them.

Thank you,


Dear sweet, tender Michael,

The wonders of the internet swirl before me, and it took me about fourteen seconds to find several luthiers in Kansas City via Google! You should try it sometime!! Unfortunately, KC is NOT known for anything but its BBQ, and, of course, one the most important films of our age: "Kansas City Bomber."

After watching that spectacle which starred my doppelganger Raquel Welch, I immediately wanted to embark on a career in the Roller Derby; it looked like so much fun! My galpal Varla talked me out of it, thankfully, saying that freelancing on the cello was a much more stable endeavor. I often wonder where Roller Derby would have led me, had I taken that path, although I feel like I am often IN a roller derby here on Cello Chat and in Live Chat! If things turn downward for me on the cello, it's never too late I guess, as I am pretty good on eight wheels. If you have never seen "Kansas City Bomber," I urge you to hunt it down using the internet via or some such, to immediately procure a DVD. Make sure you have plenty of Kansas City BBQ on hand, and plenty of beer, and watch it in your trailer with TV trays for the full effect. Ironically, "Kansas City Bomber" was filmed in our Bobbie's lovely Fresno, and in Portland, OR, and not in Kansas City. Now, about those adjustable bridges: why on earth does everything have to be adjustable, flexible, and compromising? Can't we just "be"? I feel like I need to be a shapeshifter these days, always adjusting to other peoples' sensitivities, their desires and predilections. Why must we always be adjusting? I just don't get it. Can't I have a bridge that just "is"? Can't we be a people with things that stay the way they are? Honestly! By the way doll, I have been playing the cello for 42 years, and have yet to set eyes on an adjustable bridge ever! What does that tell you?


Dear BettyLou,

We have a cello quartet and the gal who sits in first chair is always late to rehearsal, cancels at the last minute and twice now she's forgotten her music. We perform several times a year professionally, and although she shows up for performances, she is not too reliable when it comes to rehearsals. She plays well, and has gotten us gigs, but we are all fed up. My question to you Betty Lou, is not how to deal with her, but how to kick her out!

Sleepless in Federal Way

Dear Sleepless,

How gracious of your Cello 1 to show up to paid performances! Isn't it nice to watch people skate through life without a care in the world, shirking responsibility and showing the most unabashed disrespect for all those in their path? The first job the three of you have, is to find a replacement, quiet like. Then all three of you will need to sit down with Cello 1, oh let's call her Sandy, and say: "Sandy, you do not seem to be committed to the quartet, and we really need someone who is dedicated to attend rehearsals on a regular basis. We have decided to let you go, but we wish you the best of luck in all your future endeavors. Now, hand over the folder, if you remembered to even bring it, and be gone with you." Or something to that effect. You'll find work without this dead weight, and I am absolutely positive the morale of the group will be much improved once you express then excise this cyst of a person. Good luck, and make sure to dedicate your next "Spinning Song" to yours truly.


Dearest BettyLou,

I will make this short and sweet (well, not so sweet, because it's a bad thing). The past two major auditions I have had I BOMBED. I practiced, I prepared, and then I'm just not good enough. I don't think it's a nervous problem, but for some reason I never play my best. What's wrong with me?

How can I work on this?

Love from,


Dear Save Me!

Honey, only you can save you, really! Auditions are scary things! You are normal to totally bomb out, crash, burn and explode upon impact. At least that's what I hear. It's hard for me to relate, actually, because I always play my best at auditions, and have never had a problem with nerves. I do not, however, like screens, and always find a way to knock them down, "accidentally". I want to be in the spotlight, to bask in its glow! And that's where your problem comes in honey -- it's all about self-esteem.

The work you need to do is away from the cello, doll! You have to love yourself before anyone is going to love your Strauss excerpts!! See, you don't play your best, and claim it's not about nerves, so you are simply fulfilling your own prophecy: "I am just not good enough." Take two confidence boosters, and call me when you get that major metropolitan orchestra job. When you do, I am hopeful that your stand partner will not be one of those burned-out section players that litter the performance spaces across the country, and the World. They can turn an exciting prospect into a dreary, tension-filled nightmare. Best of luck, sweetheart!


Dear BettyLou,

Since you seem to have been around the block several times, I wanted to know what I should do to catch the attention of a handsome timpanist that sometimes is contracted to play with our orchestra. I sit all the way on the other side of the stage, on the third desk (outside, thank you) in the cello section, so there are not a lot of opportunities for mixing, and I am on the shy side. I am not the type to resort to outright flirting, but am really attracted to this guy. Please help!


Carole P.

Dear sweet, coy Carole,

How cleverly you have acknowledged my experience! Well, you have come to the right place honey. I am the expert when it comes to snaring game of the male persuasion, believe you me. First, you'll need to plan the perfect outfit. A pair of form fitting black wool slacks, a pretty silk blouse, and of course some manner of sexy, feminine high heels would be just right.

Ensure that you are well-groomed and annointed with the slightest hint of your most expensive perfume. At the break, corner your game, and tell him: "Hi I am Carole, don't you play with the (name of most prestigious orchestra in your community)? Even if you're wrong, he will be flattered that you mistook him for a top-flight percussionist, like Gene Krupa, and the door is open!!

Then, let him introduce himself, and make the most inane small talk about anything at all; the pieces you're rehearsing, water on Mars, the Swiffer, or the most recent additions to the European Union and inherent gaestarbeiter problems.

Here's the clincher: touch him ever so slightly on the arm or shoulder, with nice even pressure. Without this tactile deal closer, he will not know if you are a contractor looking for bodies for the next Beethoven Festival, or his future ex-wife! When I follow these tactics, I usually end up with a nice room service breakfast and a purse full of hotel soaps and shampoos. Good Luck, sweetheart! Please let me know what happens, dear. I care!


Dear BettyLou,

I am in a terrible place, physically and mentally. I recently joined a small amateur chamber group who gives about two benefit concerts a year, plus various and sundry concerts at nursing homes, retirement villages, motel openings ... you get the drift?

This group operates on a no pay voluntary basis. That was my understanding when I joined. Now I have found out that one of the members is BEING PAID.

I overheard some people talking about it on the way back to our cars after playing at an opening of a new In-and-Out Burger joint. He is a young guy we'll call "Benny" (not his real name). This a-hole's abilities are basically on a par with the rest of us and how he warrants a stipend is beyond me.

BettyLou, my fury knows no bounds. I haven't felt the same about this chamber music project since I found out this distressing information. I am not close to the other members and have no desire to socialize with any of these no-talent nincompoops. I have visions of them dying horrible, painful deaths as their instruments spontaneously combust in their sticky hands while playing "The Hebrides Overture." I smile smugly from a safe distance relishing the carnage.

Am I overreacting? Am I wrong to feel slighted and cheated? I probably should quit this whole mess, but I like the feeling of bringing a little classical joy to the downtrodden and infirmed. What shall I do, Bettylou.


Seething in Scottsdale

Dear Seething,

After reading your letter, I became filled with the most red-hot outrage over this injustice. Only after a half-case of Little Debbie Nutty Bars, was I mollified. Even Carmenita, my maid, commented in her bizarre "Spanglish" on my preoccupation with the unfairness of it all. I could only clutch little Shazzam!, my black pug, and sob gently pondering your dilemma. How dare your rotten little chamber orchestra (which is probably peopled with members of The Hatred no doubt) cheat you out of a fair musician's stipend!

Your visualization of their timely demise is delicious and therapeutic. It is through this process that you will be able heal yourself of their putrid, disgusting and hateful company. Of course you must quit, at once, in a dramatic scene, involving lots of gestures and expletives, I am thinking something a la Rumpelstiltskin. Then walk away displaying your most insulting hand signals. After you have disposed of these unfair and deceitful malcontents, which deserve only the most horrific and lengthy mental revenge, check yourself into one of those glamorous resorts near you, and wash away the pain with a waterfall of sybaritic bliss! It will do wonders! Bless you and Godspeed!

Vexed? Peeved? Flummoxed? Submit your little conundrums to me at and I will decide if they are worthy of an inspired, loving solution.

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