Christine's Blog

Musings and Thoughts about All Things Musical ...

My Life’s Story

Sep 4, 2016

As a young child, around 11 years old, I had my first performance of Bach Suite No.  1 in G major. You’ve likely heard it before even if you don’t know the name. It’s in movies, TV shows and commercials; it’s out there, a lot! Anyways, this guy I was playing for, was named Yo-Yo, I remember thinking to myself (as being raised in North America) who would name their kid Yo-Yo? Ah, the musings of an 11 year old! Today, Yo-Yo Ma is almost a household name – famed cellist with over 90 albums. I realize now, I really should have known who he was, but at that time, I was all about the girl power.   All my idols were women who played cello. I really had not given men a second thought, even though in my home, because we were fed a steady diet of classical music, I’m sure I heard my fair share!

Through my adolescence, I did continue having the privilege of playing for some of the top cellists of the time…Jonas Starker being one of them. My, he was intimidating. This is back in the day where you could smoke inside most places and locations. I’ll never forget him sitting at the back of the room smoking a cigarette and listening – long plumes of smoke on his exhales. He had the same routine after everyone finished. He would clap three times. One clap, then a pause. A second clap, then another pause, and the third clap, with the longest pause of them all. Very scary! Afterward, he told a joke, so he wasn’t as scary, and as the masterclass progressed he became much less intimidating. Part of what I gained in that class, I still teach today to my students and colleagues alike.

To say I was immersed in music is an understatement. Mondays were chamber music and the Academy’s Masterclass day, Tuesdays were a practice day, Wednesdays were for choir, Thursdays consisted of lessons and playing with the Fiddlers (The Calgary Fiddlers), Fridays I did-theory and repertoire work with an accompanist and to round out the week, I had Orchestra on Saturdays. All this and going to school as well!  At that time the show Fame was on TV how I envied the idea of a performing arts school and wished that could be me!

At the age of 18, I went to University to study. What else could I have chosen but music?  It was a wonderful time in my life, I made many new friends and continue many of those relationships today.  Much of the work at University had similar programming to that of which I had at the academy so it was a very easy adjustment for me, if fact it felt so much easier as the entire focus of school was similar to what I received in my after school program at the academy.  I happily soaked up all the new experiences and enjoyed being surrounded by musicians full-time, what a joy. 

That following summer when I turned 19, I obtained a scholarship to go to Santiago Spain and study with Pedro Corostola. What an amazing opportunity! I jumped on a plane with my cello and went forth into the world of Spain and its composers. Here, through Pedro’s guidance, I developed a deep love for the country and its music. He spoke only French and Spanish, I only English, but communication was no problem as we both had our instruments to serve that purpose. He was a pipe-smoker; sometimes when he was showing me something he would be playing with the pipe hanging out of his mouth, puffing away. It was really quite dramatic. All in all it was a fantastic summer where I met friends from all over the world. It was an experience like non-other.

When I returned, back to University I went and I completed my degree a few years later. Now the grand plan at this point was to go on to my Master’s and my dream was to record movie soundtracks. Here I was dealt a devastating blow… I fell off a trampoline and completely shattered my wrist (the right one.. ouch!) and broke my back. As it turned out, the back injury wasn’t too bad; my wrist was far worse. So it was here in my life I had to regroup. What would I do now that my hand could no longer perform the same as it had? What would my life plan be? This injury was what ultimately led me to teaching cello. Without it, teaching wasn’t even on my radar. Fortunately for me, I loved it! It challenged me in different ways. It was dynamic as people are all so different, and I found it incredibly rewarding. It allowed me to discover areas of myself I never had the chance to explore before. It was during the following years of teaching (15 or so) that I realized what a profound experience learning music can be for people. From this mindset, I’ve been developing my I Luv Cello program. This has been an exciting journey with many ups and downs in which I will share with you in my next post.

Thank you for sharing your time with me, I hope you enjoyed reading a bit about me and I can’t wait to hear a little bit about you! Please feel free to leave a comment below as I’d love to hear from you!

Lots of Cello Love,
Christine Williams

PS if you are interested, please check out my tutorials or my I Luv Cello program.

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