I love to travel. I will go anywhere, anytime, and I don’t really need an excuse to do it. If someone gave me a mystery envelope with a ticket to anywhere in the world, I would probably board the plane without asking too many questions. Sure, there are some places I would prefer not to visit while they are war-torn or dangerous, but a part of me believes that if God really wanted me to go there I’d be there anyway, so whatever. Live a little.
I generally feel like a bad cellist for admitting this, but I am perfectly fine traveling without my cello. Sometimes it is not convenient or cheap enough and sometimes I could just use a break from my intensive practicing. Leaving my cello behind does not mean I love it any less. I realize this makes me an unusual musician, but this is the way I see it: if I can travel without my husband, whom I love and adore and miss, I can sure travel without my cello. Leaving my husband behind for a few days does not make me neglectful of him, and it does not make me a bad wife. Sometimes the perspective I gain from whatever trip I am on actually makes me a better wife than I was before, because I have new life experiences that stretch me and newfound reasons to adore my husband while I was away. Same with my cello.
Still, if I could find an excuse to travel the world with my cello and share my music with others and jam with musicians all around the world, I would be a happy camper. I’ll admit, it’s interesting to travel with a cello. I buy a seat on the plane for it, otherwise I fear it will end up in splinters if it goes under the plane. I used to be able to get my cello its own seat with its own frequent flyer miles under the name of Cello Cragin, but the airlines caught on and now I have to buy two seats under my name, like I am obese or particularly afraid of strangers.
Without fail, people will ask me to play (even on the plane), and normally I laugh it off and smile. Lately I have been wondering if I should actually play spontaneously for strangers when they ask for it. What better way to show people how accessible classical music is if I can do it on the fly and when they are craving it, rather than forcing them to come on “my turf” with “my rules”?
I am not sure why so many of us musicians feel like we have to hide when people ask us to play. We fear we are not perfect enough, that we will do a disservice to our craft or the music, but sometimes I wonder if we do more of a disservice by not performing for a wanting public. There is a fine line, as we want to pursue excellence and put forth our best effort. Maybe there’s a compromise in there somewhere — maybe classical musicians should have an arsenal of easily recognizable and beautiful compositions that they can whip out at any time and play for curious strangers with little to no warm up time. It beats waiting to perform our Brahms sonatas or Bach partitas and suites until they are “performance ready” several weeks or months later.
I think it’ll be rewarding and fun to try and perform on demand for people. Who knows, maybe my favorite band Gungor will see some random clip on YouTube of some chick performing Dry Bones on the cello for a crowd and will tweet me to come to Colorado to play in their next tour. Then I’d really get to travel with my cello.
One can dream. One can dream….