The double bass he played has gone.

He has been concentrating on his cello since he started high school. Our son said he liked it better.

It took about a term and a half for us to hire a cello from his new school. It was a touch big for him when he started. I think it fits him now.

His school orchestra was going to perform at the Royal Albert Hall before the pandemic hit London. His father was devastated when we found out the concert was cancelled.

I don’t think our son minded too much. But then, he doesn’t know the significance of the grand old space.

The Royal Albert Hall. They say it was officially opened in March 1871. The Prince of Wales opened it on behalf of his mother, Queen Victoria, who was too overcome with emotion to speak that evening. History suggests the place reminded her too keenly of her late husband, Prince Albert, who died about ten years earlier. 

We walked past the Hall during our exploration of South Kensington back when we could still roam the city freely. It is a huge structure. Perhaps one day we’ll be able to visit it properly. Maybe our son will once again get the opportunity to play within it.

Our boy is slowly getting better at playing the cello. His sight-reading isn’t too bad. And he has found a lovely teacher who is helping him play better. More importantly, he seems to be enjoying it.

The love of music is something that runs in my husband’s side of the family. 

Our son’s grandfather played the tenor horn with the Salvation Army’s Melbourne Staff Band. He travelled the world with them and even played at Buckingham Palace. 

This musical ability has been transferred to my husband and now our son.

I wish I could say I was partly responsible for it, but I didn’t have the talent or discipline to master my instrument. I wanted to burn my piano when I was forced to learn it. 

Music frustrated me more than it gave me enjoyment. I’m sure other people who listened to me massacre a piece felt the same.

Our boy doesn’t mind the frustration.

“Really?” I ask.

“Yeah.”

“Why don’t you mind it?”

“Because it’s satisfying when you complete it properly.”

At the moment, it seems music is a puzzle to be mastered. Not something to be felt or lived. I asked if he ever felt the music he was playing.

“No,” he answered.

“Why not?”

“I don’t know.”

Perhaps he is too young to hear the emotions running through the notes. Perhaps cello practise is like exercising his mind rather than a form of artistry.

“Do you like playing the cello though?”

“Yes!”

“Why?”

“It’s fun! Mum, can you stop asking me questions now?”

It looks like our boy has yet to feel all those things we experience as we grow – pain, love, joy, suffering. The usual fodder that ends up seeping into art. Perhaps he has seen and felt them for a moment, but doesn’t want to tell his mother. 

All I know is I am waiting. I am waiting for the time when the notes will touch his heart and I will hear it in the lilt of his bowing; in the rise and fall of the sound.

It will tell me he’s grown up.

Not long now.

17 Comments

  1. The Royal Albert Hall is definitely a great place of history.

    When your son has his feelings move him as he plays his cello, then the playing of his music will have moved from the realm of mathematics (notes) to the realm of art.

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  2. One day you will get to the Royal Albert Hall – and you will love it. In my 20s, I lived nearby and in those days the concerts sold very cheap “standing” tickets, high in “the gods” – but of course the sound was the same! I remember sitting on the floor in that section, as far away from the orchestra as it was possible to be, and still loving it. Later, I could afford better seats!

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  3. I love the cello! As for the playing from the heart, I’m sure he’ll get there. I remember being a teen and being embarrassed for the musicians (in world-class orchestras, no less) who emoted all over their instruments. Something about the age, I think. Now I so wished I could play anything–and of course I cry at any old orchestral piece on YouTube!

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  4. If he loves playing it, it already speaks to him. It’s most likely that he cannot articulate or connect what’s going on at his age. But I bet it is happening subconsciously!

    The cello is a wonderful instrument. It’s so commanding, yet poised. I hope he gets his concert opportunity again soon.

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