A couple of days ago I had my first cello assigment in over a decade. I grew up playing the cello, I played all through grade school and high school, but my skills reached their zenith in about the 8th grade. The last few years I've basically just taken the thing out of its case every six months or so, practiced for about fifteen minutes and come to the conclusion that yep, I'm pretty bad.
And yet I agreed to play on my friend Tom Chao's recording. He asked nicely and I was having delusions of grandeur and I guess that's how these things happen. I figured it would be a simple string part, a layering thing, ya know, like in the background of a ballad. A few swells here, a few runs there, no big whoop.
Well I found myself in a quartet playing a peppy piece with well seasoned violinists and a violist who was a graduate of Juliard.
"Hello, my name is Rob, I'm the weak link."
The players were very nice (never once mentioning the fact that I was completely out of my depth) and it was really fun to play with other strings again, but the main feeling I took away from the session was:
THANK GOD FOR PRO TOOLS!!!
Not that we could use it much playing live with a quartet, but when it came to me putting down a sting part by myself for another track, all I can say is my three best friends were "cut" 'paste" and "Antares Auto-Tune."
It did feel cool to take my cello, in its huge hardshell case, on the subway. When I walk around the city with a guitar I sometimes feel like a cliche. "Oh great, another freakin' deadbeat musician," is pretty much what I hear people thinking. But walking around with a cello, I felt like such an intellectual, a sohpisticated artist. I should have put on a pair of glasses, a tweed blazer, and some Bose noise-cancelling headphones to complete the look.