The Story of Hans

I’ve had the same cello since January of 2000 and I lovingly named it “Baby”. It traveled the US on my various music adventures. We’ve lived in Seattle, Chicago, Ohio, Vermont and Massachusetts. In the process, Baby endured a lot of abuse from traveling and colder climes. While living in Chicago in the winter of 2010, I had Baby on my back in its soft gig case when I slipped on the ice, leaving a big crack up the front and a crack on the neck. I’d already wanted to move away from Chicago but this really sealed the deal. When I got Baby checked out, I was told the cracks were just cosmetic blemishes and that they weren’t a big deal.

Fast forward to Monday, January 16th, 2012. It’s cold (for Seattle) and I left Baby in the car after rehearsal and, when I picked her back up, I heard a LOT of noise coming from the case. When I got inside, I unveiled the damage: Baby’s neck finally snapped. When I took her into Carrabba’s the next day, I got the rough news that it would cost between $5000 and $7500 to replace a neck and my cello wouldn’t sound very good afterwards anyway.

Now comes the lovely turn of events. Carrabba just so happened to have a cello in my price range that sounded about a thousand times better than Baby. While I don’t recommend investing in an instrument so hastily, I needed a cello and this was a beauty. I got it. It’s beautiful and vocal and deep and I’m smitten. Upon investigation, I found out that my new cello was made in Germany, so I named it Hans after my most merciless cello teacher, Hans Jorgen Jensen. I’m hoping that a daily reminder of Hans will keep me practicing those arpeggios.

What lesson can we learn from this dramatic episode? Be good to your cello. Go the extra mile to make sure it doesn’t get too cold or too hot and don’t assume it will be 100% okay in a soft case. Treat your cello like the precious piece of art that it is and it will repay you by staying in one piece.