Dear Bettylou,

I think you are fabulous. Only you seem to have the balance of real life experience, cellistic achievement (why else would the good people at the cello society endorse you?) and of course glamour and chutzpah to solve my conundrum.

Let me give you some background first, dear. I went to many fine music schools (with highy erratic marks) and attended many lessons given by the best, or at least the most charismatic, expensive, and in-vogue, cello teachers. But whilst my peers beavered artlessly, but with great technical facility, at Piatti, Popper and Duport, I developed a nice tone and occasionally some trick, but more generally ... an intolerance to anything less than gargantuan volumes of alcohol! Sadly, unlike my peers I never slept with any musician of influence either.

This, I don't have to tell you, is not enough of the good stuff to get one past the weasles in the wood of even Lalo, let alone Ligeti, Haydn or, heavens to Betty-Lou ... Dvorak! I am an incompetant cellist by these measures! Hopeless!! A Joke....

So why do I have full time employment in a vivacious award-winning Period Instrument orchestra? What gives? Have the rules changed? And the last time I saw the beavers, they were ignoring me after Tuesday Technique Class, scooping great swaths of greasy hair behind their ears to get a better view of a mini-score of some work no-one wants to pay to listen to ... except people with very little money already!

So ... I have a ball, tour heaps, play lots of Bach and Mozart with lots of lovely open strings and stay in first position (I reckon it is the hardest position!). But should my place rightfully be as a beaver with a mini score? Will the voices stop? I'm feel so happy on stage, but I suspect in the darkest hours that I am so cellistically bankrupt that I've missed the entire point..........

Thanks for everything, I know you will make me feel better.

Robert Dorset

P.S. You can never have too many hats, shoes and gloves. New strings and tonal adjustments, yearly cleaning etc. is for dorks!

Dear Mr. Dorset,

After reading your letter, I poured myself an icy diet Coke and re-read it, and for the life of me, could not figure out what your problem was! You have the ultimate arrangement, and you need to get over your guilt feelings pronto! The last laugh is on all those gearheaded musical dorks that end up with boring computer jobs because they have no business skills, no social skills, and an over-abundance of technique! Some of the best studio and pit orchestra gigs I have been handed came from expert hob-nobbing of the right people. Most of them had never even heard me play! You obviously have all the skill and charm it takes to be successful (like our dreamy Todd French, hi Todd!) so if the guilt about your technique not being up to snuff is bothering you, take out the Barber Sonata, or the Faure Elegy, and give them a whirl. If you get stumped, give Colin Carr or the soon to be free-agent Andrew Schulman a call and set up a "tea," and then ask them for some friendly (free) advice.

P.S. So true, one can never amass enough clothing accessories! As I write this, my guest house is being turned into a cedar-lined walk-in closet for moi! Twelve hundred square feet should do it!


Dear Bettylou-

I have a question for your column, if you feel the need to use it.

I am a freshman in high school and I've just been given first chair. I'm really excited about it, but all the older kids are mad at me and want me to leave. I don't want to give them my spot JUST because they're older, but maybe they really do deserve it? What do you think?


Dear Leana,

Welcome to my world -- I swim in an ocean of envy! Honey, you were given first chair for two reasons: 1) you play well, sound great, and 2) obviously, you look great! No right-thinking high school music director wants to display a talent-free Plain Jane up front and center! I am sure that the envy swirling around you is not just about your playing! I, too, suffered from the glamorous shroud of envy from about age 16 on, and doll, you get used to it. But don't let it go to your head -- you must keep up your playing AND your appearance. Look at the Bond or the Ahn Trio gals, or the Eroica Trio, and don't tell me that appearance doesn't matter! Even glitzy Ofra Harnoy knows the power of a glamorous CD cover! Bask in your well-deserved glory, you are following in my footsteps, dear.


Dear BettyLou:

My girlfriend keeps harping on me to cut out, or at least cut down on, suites. But my motto is a Suite a Day keeps the cellist in Pay. How can I help her get a clue? After all, she knew I was a classical musician when she, uh, suggested that we take our relationship to the next level.

And another thing. She keeps scheduling social get-togethers with family (hers) and friends (hers) on my practice nights (Monday through Saturday--I don't count Sunday because that's orchestra rehearsal night).

Why is she putting me under such pressure? At my last recital, I almost played Dvorak's concerto in B major instead of B minor--all because of the pressure she has me under.

What should I do, oh sage advisor.

--Suite a Day

Dear Suite a Day,

You sound like a real charmer -- you practice every single night, if you hadn't noticed. You really need to make some time for your gal pal, or dump her and save her the further misery of YOU. It also sounds as though she has some communication problems since she schedules social events without consulting you first, which she may have done in the past, but gave up since she knew you would have "rehearsal." For life, sweetie, there is no rehearsal -- your Dvorak won't suffer if you arrange a couple of standing "date" nights with your paramour. It won't hurt you to wind down at a local Stampede Buffet, share some boxed wine and a platter of Shrimp Shooters or Extreme Fajitas. Have you forgotten on what you're missing out?? Take a blue pill and get cracking!


Dear BettyLou-

Although I have played cello for only ten weeks, I have played oboe for over thirty years. Based on a comment made in the last newsletter, I feel that you must be cautioned to be more circumspect with your opinion OF the oboe TO oboists.

Admittedly, playing oboe is relatively simple with a good reed. But to make a good reed one must have very, very SHARP knives. And, really, it is not wise to be condescending to a group of people who have great dexterity with tools that can cause you or your cello great harm. Luckily for you, unless the weather has changed and/or their reed frustration is very great, they may pause slightly at the thought of dulling the knife edge; this hesitation could give you enough time to get away....


Dear MnGlenda,

Oboe, tin whistle, recorder? Does it really matter? A stick with holes in it and some wiggly fingers and you've got it made. They only made reeds difficult to make to give you double-reeders something to whine about -- and boy has it worked! Honey, I had a stage light fall 20 feet onto my cello during a performance of "Finlandia," and I just kept playing, so your threats of knifery scare me not! Go play the "Silken Ladder" twenty times in a row for your impertinence and reflect upon your duck-like emissions that bleet so rudely from your Loree. Now, english horn players and bassoonists, they are to be revered!


Dear Bettylou,

I thought I had seen a picture of Brahms posing as a cello. Does this picture really exist? Where can I find a copy?

North Pole

Dear North Pole,

I have no idea what you are talking about, honey. I think you are mixing that up with Lucy posing as a double-bass to get into one of Ricky's shows. Have you run out of your Paxil, dear? Chatters? Any ideas?

Vexed? Peeved? Confounded? Ask BettyLou! Send all inquiries to BettyLou, maybe she'll deem your question worthy of an answer.

Direct correspondence to the appropriate ICS Staff
Editor: Tim Janof Director: John Michel
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