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A Lesson from My Cello Recital
Written by Youju Lee | Published. 2020.08.13 19:00 | Count : 295
[Photo of the writer performing at a cello recital (The 31st Young Artist Concert hosted by the Music Education News, June 28th, 2020). Photo courtesy of Sujin Kim]

I walked into the spotlight on the stage with my cello in one hand and my bow in the other. My hands were sweating and trembling as the audience applauded for me. I sat on the chair nervously. Suddenly, I heard someone whisper to me. It was the accompanist teacher. 

“Youju, you should bow!”

I was terrified. I had made a mistake before I even began. I was certain this was a nightmare. 

I started learning to play the cello about a year ago. I used to learn the violin, but one day, my mom turned on some music during bedtime. I heard a sound that was similar to the violin, but somehow better. I asked my mom what the instrument was, and she told me it was the cello. I have been playing the cello ever since as a hobby. However, I am learning it like a professional. 

Six months ago, after my cello lesson, my cello teacher asked me, “Can you call your mom?” When my mom came to the front door where the teacher was waiting, my teacher asked my mom, “Would you like Youju to play at a cello recital in June? It’s hosted by the Music Education News, and young students can perform without pressure.” 

“Of course! I would love it!” my mom replied. My mom asked me if I wanted to do it. I told her that I would love to. At the time, I wasn’t really worried. I thought that I had lots of time and so I didn’t really practice a lot.

[Photo of the writer practicing cello late at night. Photo courtesy of Sujin Kim] 

The day before the recital, I was very nervous. My cello teacher asked my mom to take a video so that she could check if I would need more lessons the next day. When my mom was taking the video, I was so worried because, for some reason, I couldn’t play as well as before. My mom told me that I shouldn’t worry and enjoy playing at the recital. I couldn’t sleep well that day, though. The next day, I woke up at 7:00am and kept practicing. At 9:00am, my cello teacher came to my house and we had an emergency lesson for an hour before the accompanist teacher came. Afterwards, my mom, my cello teacher, the accompanist teacher and I all headed to Youngsan Art Hall, where I was going to perform. In my mom’s car, I was extremely nervous and worried that I felt I might throw up. I couldn’t even eat half of the banana my mom had brought for me. 

When we arrived at Youngsan Art Hall, I had to immediately go to the stage and rehearse because one person before me wasn’t there. The rehearsal didn’t go perfectly which made me worry even more. I told my teacher and my mom, “I should practice now.” However, my teacher told me that I should calm down and rest. I told her that I was nervous, and she said, “You won’t be nervous later.”

I had three hours before the real recital. I tried my best to relax, but I could only sit still for one and a half hours. I picked up my cello and practiced until a staff member called me to get ready. It was already time. When I sat down on the chair in front of the door to the stage, my heart beat so fast that I thought my teacher could hear it. Then the performer before me came in from the stage. The staff and my cello teacher looked at me and said, “Fighting!” which made me feel a tiny bit better.

I walked up on the stage. I couldn’t look at the audience, so I just sat down and got ready. I was about to start playing when the accompanist teacher whispered to me, “Youju, you should bow!”

I was so frightened. I had ruined my performance by a silly mistake. I stood up and bowed without even looking at the audience because I was worried I might cry. I sat down again, but my mind went blank. I raised my bow and felt my hand trembling. Nervously, I began to play.

Surprisingly, as soon as I started playing, I didn’t feel nervous. I was so focused that I forgot about my mistake. I even forgot that there was an audience. I became excited, and it felt like I was riding a roller coaster. I was surprised how quickly I finished playing all of my pieces.

I realized that I was so scared about the recital just until it actually began. I was worried and nervous the night before, on my way to the hall, in the waiting room, and on the stage, but not when I was actually playing. Scary things are often not as scary as you think. In fact, it is your imagination that’s scarier. The only thing you should be worried about is your worries.

A week after the recital, my teacher and I decided that it would be nice to play in public for free, like a busking performance. I wanted to play in front of a bakery near my house. On the day of the performance, we went out with my cello and an electric piano. My mom, my cello teacher, and my accompanist teacher helped me set up. People started looking at me, wondering what was going on. I started to realize how similar this was to my recital. I was going to play in front of an audience.

If I hadn’t played at the recital, I would have been worried because there were lots of people. However, I knew that I didn’t have to be. My heart began to pound, but I wasn’t scared. I raised my bow, nodded at the accompanist teacher, and started playing. The sunlight was warm, and our music sounded beautiful. I was proud of myself.





Youju Lee 
Grade 5 
The Learning Community International School

Youju Lee  student_reporter@dherald.com

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