Young Person Profile: Cello Challenges COVID

When the Pandemic hit I felt trapped. Basketball stopped. School learning stopped. Gatherings stopped. I could not leave the house; I was scared because I did not know if I was going to get sick. Before the pandemic, I practiced cello. During the pandemic, I kicked it up a notch. I started working harder because I needed a way to cope and I had the free time. I started putting in the work.


A typical pandemic practice is pretty intense and long. Everyday, I start with warm-ups. I play the C major scale in different forms, arpeggio, double stops, and octaves. Then, I play Friedrich Doutzauer’s book of etudes, where I work on rhythm, intonation, and bowing technique. Now it is time for my main set. Currently I am playing three Bach songs. Arioso from the Cantata 156, Sarabande and Gigue from Bach cello suite 1. It is hard and very disciplined, but I have fun. I enjoy playing in tenor clef because you read the music another 5 notes higher. I like challenging my brain. Sometimes when I need a break when doing cello practice, I play with my English Cream golden retriever Lemon or play with my bow and arrow.


A typical pandemic practice with my teacher, Dr. Anna Cho, is even more intense and even longer. She plays for the San Diego Symphony. She is strict but understanding and talented. Lessons with her are hard work. She makes sure every measure of music is perfect before I move on. We have continued lessons by zoom and outdoors in her backyard, distanced with masks. I enjoy when she does not stop me while playing because it means I am on the right track. She has a cute dog named Bobi.


Performances during the pandemic sometimes go well and sometimes, just terrible. I once played for my family and bit off more than I could chew. The music was too fast, too quiet, and I played too many pieces when I was not ready. I had a great performance when I played in front of the town of Del Mar during the mayoral elections. I played one song, took my time, played with confidence, and I was prepared. Afterwards, I felt fulfilled. When cello goes right, I close my eyes and smile.


Now that the pandemic is close to ending, I will not take the cello for granted. In the future, when I face another challenge, cello will be my defense.