Initially, every success at being able to play a piece of music was supremely satisfying. I already appreciated classical music, thanks to my parents, whose passion for it led them to share it with my brothers and me. Being able to play it for myself was a revelation.
I couldn’t put the instrument down. I practiced for hours at a time, teaching myself how to play Bach’s Suite for Cello #1 by studying a film of a Pablo Casals performance, borrowed from the local public library. My mother later told me that she sometimes left the house, simply to get away from the constant sound of false starts, muffed notes and abrupt stops.
That initial drive to master the music brought me to the attention of music professor Elizabeth Potteiger at the nearby Miami University of Ohio. I took lessons from her every Saturday for four years, and I learned a great deal, about playing the cello, injecting artistry into performances, and life’s possibilities. Her life as an academic and a musician served as an early inspiration and model for my own path.