Fiddlershop’s "Music is for Everyone" blog series features interviews with professional, amateur, and student musicians who inspire through their unique musical stories. Their example proves that music truly is for everyone, and we hope after reading, you’re motivated to begin and/or continue your musical journey.
By Jasmine Reese - Interruptions sometimes get the best of any musical education. Even for those who devoted life to music as children find themselves losing touch with their instruments once they enter the hustle and bustle of college and a subsequent career.
For Elisa, 31, it was instability that got in the way. She was Grade 8 in violin and piano, studying and practicing while in University. However, after the recession hit, music took a backseat while she tried to focus on staying above water and building up her assets.
Once obtaining her career and finally settling into a new house, she not only restarted violin and piano, but took up cello. She's documented her progress on cello on Youtube, and her rapid growth is astounding. Listen to how she sounds after only two years.
Via her popular Youtube channel, she's inspired her followers to start learning.
When and why did you begin playing cello?
I had my first cello lesson on July 1, 2015. I had always wanted to learn the cello, but didn't have the time or money up until that point. I thought why not; there's no time like the present, so get on with it!
You played violin as well. Did you quit and come back to it? Or have you kept up with it?
Yes, I still say I play the violin; piano is my first instrument, then violin, then cello and my newest endeavour is singing. I didn't quit as such. I did all my grades before going off to university when I was growing up. I played first violin in the University of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra for three years, while I was an undergraduate. I didn't really have enough time to do much music at all in my Masters' year.
When I graduated in 2008 the Financial Recession hit, and I was struggling just to get a job. I was living in rented accommodation and moving every two years, so music really took a backseat. I did play from time-to-time, but I didn't want to annoy my temporary
neighbors. I got an electric piano during my Masters year, so I used to play with the headphones which was some consolation. The violin didn't have such a facility to be as courteous to my immediate neighbors, so it went to sleep.
Since buying my own property and moving into a detached house I can make as much noise as I like. Therefore, the violin has come out of hibernation, and I'm playing more with others.
How do you juggle violin practice with cello practice?
I don't practice [violin] like I used to. Mostly because I want to concentrate on learning the cello. Despite not being in full-time practice for many years, the violin hand/finger muscle memory is very deep-ingrained and surprisingly difficult to override.
Now [that] I'm more established with my cello technique, going back to the violin is alien. It feels so small like a toy, and I have to contort myself to hold the instrument which doesn't seem natural any more. It takes me a good day of solid violin practice before I feel comfortable with it again.
Therefore, I only tend to really practice if I have a recording or live performance coming up. That would mean practicing after cello (and now singing) in the evening after work or...on the weekends.
What are your musical goals?
I would like to be equal in cello as my other instruments; that would mean Grade 8 standard.... I feel like cello is my number one instrument -- the one I really love the most -- so I would like to go beyond Grade 8, because why not?
I could have studied music to degree level, but it was only a hobby. I started learning the Mendelssohn violin concerto, but then left for university and never finished. I plan on learning the Elgar cello concerto. Elgar was the first professor of music at my university, so I feel like I should start with this one. I'd like to play Haydn and Dvorak concertos, etc...
I've just started singing lessons as I promised myself that would be my next instrument after cello. However, I decided that to help my aural skills, I should start now while I'm still learning the cello. I don't have grades planned for singing. I just want to sing pop songs well and develop my own voice. It's crazy I was born with this instrument, and yet, I've never trained it or explored what it can do.
After that, I think I'll get a viola and learn the Alto Clef. I feel like I should because I'm really only one clef away from being able to play another instrument, which after violin and cello should feel quite normal. A lot of cello repertoire is transcribed already for viola. It would also mean I can play any part in a quartet which is pretty useful or provide keyboard assistance, if required.
After that, I reckon I'd be quite handy with the flute as I played recorder in school, and I've had a go on friend's flute, and I managed to get useful sounds out without much bother. Once I have breathing technique from singing, it should be a more natural transition than from my other instruments.
I have an acoustic guitar my brother gave me which I've also never pursued, so that's always there if I want it. I know some chords, I could learn some more!
Hahaha, you're going to be your own music band soon enough! I look forward to watching it on Youtube. At this point, what are you most proud to have accomplished in music?
Well, I'm proud that I have Grade 8 piano and violin to my name. I came top of the class even though I was a year younger than everyone else. Most recently, I'm proud that I've managed to play the Bach Prelude One within the 2 years I gave myself to learn it. Obviously it's not finished, but I can play it to a respectable standard.
I played cello in my local music festival in the Grade 5 and 6 category. I also played in an open category, the Bach Bourrées I and II from Suite 3 which is on the Grade 7 syllabus. This was my strongest performance, so I should have entered the Grade 7/8 class but alas you never know what the competition will be like until you get there. The last time I played in public competitively was when I was in school and the focus was solo piano or piano duets with my brother. I competed as a violinist one year, but it was too much with piano competitive classes and music exams in the same summer.
Any advice for adult musicians either restarting after a long hiatus or starting from scratch?
Give yourself time to get back into the swing of things; don't be put off by initial frustration. Have faith the musical training is like riding a bike; you don't forget. Even if you might want to forget, there is a lot more deep down you probably didn't realise was always with you.
If you're new to an instrument, get the basics right first and foremost. Unlearning bad technique is twice as hard as learning it correctly in the first place. If you want to progress quickly find a good teacher, preferably face-to-face rather than online.
If you rent an instrument and then decide to buy your own, buy the best instrument you can afford. You will go further on a better quality instrument, and faster if you are able to access the finer nuances of the instrument and will get more enjoyment from the ever-improving sound you make.
Don't be afraid to try something new; don't make excuses..... You definitely have more to lose by not being brave.
Do you know a professional, amateur, or student musician with an inspirational, funny, heartwarming, or unique story?