Learning to speak all over again

This is how old I feel when I hold my cello.

First cello lesson today. First EVER. I am not picking up an instrument I studied years ago. I am starting at square one at 46 1/2. Why am I doing this? Because I have loved the sound of the cello my whole life, but until last year, assumed it was too late for me to learn.

I was talking with someone* a couple of weeks ago about starting to play the cello at this stage in life, and he or she suggested I think of it as learning to speak all over again, and to remember how long it takes children to learn to talk.  This feels like incredibly sound, helpful advice. I think it will help me tolerate the years of baby talk, mispronunciation, truncated phrasing and (let’s be honest) incoherent tantrums ahead of me.

This timing is not accidental. Since Every Dress a Decision came out this past May, I’ve been casting around for my next project, very aware that I want to write in a different way than I have so far. My poetic vocabulary feels stilted and tired. I want to shake up my perspective, revise my frames of reference, learn a new language.

I’ll let you know how it goes. If you have advice for my new adventure, please share!

*It’s not lost on me that I already have an appallingly bad memory. I’m hoping for improved brain function as a fringe benefit…

3 thoughts on “Learning to speak all over again

  1. Hi Elizabeth. I love the photo! Kudos to you on your musical language journery! And have you heard of John Holt’s 1978 book “Never Too Late” — it’s an inspiring memoir about exactly what you’re doing, learning to play the cello from scratch at age 40. He is the author of books about how people learn, including “How Children Fail” and “How Children Learn.” In Yo Yo Ma’s review of the book, he writes, “The reason for playing music is not to compare yourself to anyone but to bring forth what is inside you.” Good luck!

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