Mona Charen

"The Little Cellist" is a brightly colored, chipper website aimed at children. There, you can find clips of Julian Lloyd Webber playing "The Swan" from "Carnival of the Animals" by Camille Saint-Saans, as well as quizzes, links to orchestra websites and assorted games for budding musicians. Being past the mid-century mark, I am decades past being a "little" -- in the sense of young -- anything. Yet, here I am, a middle-aged but eager and diligent beginner, sawing away on the cello. The optimists say it's never too late. I mean to find out if that's true.


When I say, "sawing," that may be too kind to the sounds I've coaxed from this noble instrument in the first few weeks. My husband said he ducked, expecting a huge dragonfly to dive bomb him. My indulgent family endured more repetitions of "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" than non-convicts should be expected to hear. But they bore it like men -- as well they should (at least the offspring among them) considering the hours -- no, years! -- I've devoted to their lessons, rehearsals, auditions and practice, practice, practice.

A lifelong music lover, I've raised two musical sons and one music appreciator. One is studying trumpet performance at college (where, he tells me, our game of "name the composer," played informally in our car for years, is now part of the curriculum). Another plays both clarinet and saxophone in high school. The two younger ones attended Interlochen summer camp, where their musical sophistication skyrocketed. The eldest dabbled in the bass guitar, revels in his brothers' accomplishments and seems to have iPod earbuds permanently implanted in his head.

Like many people, I played the piano as a child. But not well. Looking back, I can find excuses for my failure to master the instrument. My teacher was waspish, impatient and bored. She clearly taught for something other than love of children. But, let's be honest, the real reason I didn't master the piano is that I was a lazy and disorganized child. When the pieces got hard, I reverted to playing those I already knew rather than girding for the tough slog through new material.

I'm not lazy anymore.

Mona Charen

Mona Charen is a syndicated columnist, political analyst and author of Do-Gooders: How Liberals Hurt Those They Claim to Help .
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