Re: what's going on?

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Posted by Gillian on May 11, 1999 at 18:51:17:

In Reply to: what's going on? posted by Theo on May 09, 1999 at 23:16:20:


I want to say that I know what you're going through...and to an extent, I can. It IS a phase. It's called being a teenager! Everybody's story is a little different, but I bet the feelings of distress are similar. It's the time where our hormones are raging, our lives are changing, peer pressure increases, and we start to have to worry about the future more. I know it's scary, I'm going through that now, trying to get myself into college.

I know I've told you that I was a late starter, too. I think about that a lot, and it no longer bothers me. It might be too late to be a child prodigy, but if you look up the word "prodigy" in the dictionary, the word "child" is not to be seen. My dictionary says this:

1. A person with exceptional talents or powers.
2. An act or event so extraordinary or rare as to inspire wonder.

Why can't you do those things as an older student? How is it too late? You'll be Theo, the cellist who overcame so much to become what he is today!
Think about that second definition of the word "Prodigy". What could you do that would inspire wonder? What's special and unique about your playing? What could you do to make people want to listen to you?

It's true, the battle to become a soloist will be harder - probably a LOT harder - for you than if you were soloing with major orchestras before you even turned 18, like Ha-Na Chang or Sarah Chang. But personally, I fail to see how it's totally impossible, like I hear people say very often that it is, for somebody to become a soloist after they turn 21!!
I've heard about a book called "It's Never Too Late" by John Holt. He started the cello at age 40, and I heard he became quite good. I haven't read the book myself, but I have been meaning to. You'll have to read it and tell me if it's good.

You want to be a soloist. You've said yourself that it would be very, very hard, and take a LOT of work. If you're willing to go from here to there, you're going to have to do something inbetween, right? I mean, you have to make a living, and be able to pay for your education, etc... So you'll probably have to get a job teaching or playing in an orchestra, or both. You can't become famous cellist and THEN do the learning part!
You know, that's the one thing those under-18 soloists have going for them, they're already earning a lot of money before they really need to worry about making a living!
And what really bothers you about teaching, anyway? You mentioned that you had a cello teacher who changed your life, and the way you think about cello. Maybe wouldn't you like to do that someday for some distressed teenager? Help them get past what you're going through now?
If you think about it, even famous soloists teach. If you look at the list of summer festivals and master classes here on the ICS, you'll see names like Yo-Yo Ma, Irene Sharp, Anner Bylsma. They teach!

I realise that this message is getting long, and I've probably bored a lot of people to sleep here!
My last comment is on what I think about the fact that it does take a lot more than hard work to become a world-class cellist. It think it takes a lot of luck, too! I mean, most child prodigies are born into families where they are worked to death so that their talents bloom quickly. That's luck, right? So is being "discovered", winding up with a really good teacher, or knowing the right people. Just something to think about.

- Gilly

P.S. (This isn't really cello related)

Stuttering is an awful problem. My brother, who's just a bit younger than you, also struggles with it. For a long time, he couldn't - or at least didn't - talk at all, and was extremely depressed and refused to leave the house. He'd lock himself in his room.
My parents did some research on stuttering, and found out a lot about causes and treatments. My brother is now with a very good speech therapist. He does exercises, such as reading books out loud with a metronome. It's helping him a lot, he has more confidance and can get through a sentence quickly, and with little or no stuttering. There are different options for correcting a stutter, and it can be overcome! There is no "cure", but depending on the cause, you can work at it, and get over it.
You might try visiting a speech therapist, and there are dozens of good websites and books on the subject. I think my brother reccomends James Earl Jones' autobiography, which I think is called "Voices and Silences". Jones was a severe stutterer, and overcame it to actually make a living off of his voice!

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