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It’s never too late to play the cello

“It’s Never Too Late” is a new series that tells the story of people who decided to pursue their dreams with their own thoughts.


In 1940, at the age of 12, Vera Gigi discovered her first passion, the cello. She learned to love playing orchestral instruments at the High School of Music & Art in Manhattan. “I didn’t choose the cello. They assigned it to me because I had good ears and long fingers,” said a current 93-year-old from Bronx. A beautiful musical instrument that sounds like a human voice. It looked like a woman’s body with hips, chest and hips. Playing with it was a very intimate experience. “

But as an adult, she stopped playing the instrument. She became a professor and fixture at Brooklyn College and taught English classes. She married twice and had four children. Her beloved cello, her mother’s high school graduation gift, sat hiding behind her clothing closet. It remained untouched for about 40 years and was almost forgotten. After retiring at the age of 62, she picked up the cello again.

“It revived the passion I always felt when I started playing again,” she said... Since then, it’s been like Second Life.

Today, her 93-year-old husband and Dr. Gigi, who lives in a townhouse on the Upper East Side, play with other amateurs and friends in two music groups, a trio and a string quartet, on 92nd Avenue Y most Friday. You can find it at. .. She is also part of Y’s annual music performance. In 2007, she published her first book, “Cello Performance for Music Lovers,” at her own expense. This book is sold on Amazon in more than 20 countries. (The following interview has been edited and summarized.)

What made you return to music after many years?

Brooklyn College has given me a relationship with my peers and other teachers and students. I felt it was socially important. I lost it when I retired. I was empty and had to replace its loss and community. I wanted to meet my neighbors.

What did you think about retirement?

I thought my life was over. It wasn’t. I had to find another way. I thought about the path I took when I was young and the path I didn’t take because I had a career with my four wives and mother. I thought about a path I wasn’t traveling on, a path full of music, and realized that I should take it now. I was not able to take both at the same time. What I took became my life. I went back to the fork and took another path to see where I was going.

How did you know where to start?

I’m half a block from 92nd Street Y. I went in and asked about the class. They have a creative music class for people over the age of 60 and just told me to show up. I thought I needed to take the test, but I didn’t. When someone walked with the cello, I was sitting in front of the piano next to the instructor who said, “Let’s see how you play.” I couldn’t believe it. When I asked if I could play it, I quickly fell in love with the instrument.

How did it feel?

Like going home. It’s all back, and it was great. I felt like I was reunited with my best friend. I needed the opportunity to play music and have these other musicians in my life. This was a return to a precious passion.

What did you gain from returning to this passion?

Music is the perfect language. It’s like a conversation between people who don’t misunderstand or get bored with each other. When playing music with people, it’s a kind of friendship. Music is a world of joy. I was able to communicate without using words. It gave me the next step in life.

What made you write the book “Cello Performance for Music Lovers”?

I searched for another book I could rely on, but nothing helped. So I decided to write it. As an English professor, I knew how to do this. I’m good at expressing ideas clearly, I can put things down in a way that people can follow, and I’m well trained to sit and write every day. I practiced to stop at a specific point when I knew what I wanted to say. When I was at a loss, I never stopped. That way, I was able to continue the next day, knowing that I was directional and not overwhelmed. And I wanted to help others.

What do you think about this stage of your life?

I am 93 years old People see age wrong: getting older doesn’t mean you can’t have anything, you can. And getting older isn’t getting worse. I am enjoying the moment. You have to get up every morning and do what you love. That’s how you move forward.

What is your best advice for those who want to make a difference?

Don’t be afraid to go back to something you loved. People say no to things too soon. We are not always our best friends. Your passion and skills are still there. You will remember more than you think. All the information about the music I thought I had lost was in a part of my brain that I hadn’t talked to me until I used it.

What have you learned during this new act of your life?

I learned that even as I grow older, I can re-enter this wonderful world of music production. And the community I lost was found again by me. Music has given me a new group of people. It gave me support. It gave me a new home.

What are you most proud of what you have achieved in this second act?

Writing and publishing of “Cello Performance for Music Lovers”. I lived, I died. What did I give to the world? This book lasts longer than I do. Even if I’m gone, this is still here and helps people learn the cello.

What lessons can people learn from your experience?

Don’t say no to yourself.


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It’s never too late to play the cello

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