Chinese Proverb

"Tell me and I'll forget. Show me and I may remember. Involve me and I'll understand." - Chinese Proverb.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Traveling with a cello to a workshop

After dinner and a glass of wine (I am in Sonoma County after all!), I'm finally starting to relax a bit from traveling. I left for the airport at 8am and didn't arrive at the hotel until 6:00pm-ish.

I decided to travel to California one day before the workshop to make sure I get there on time, but I wasn't sure if I would be able to bring my cello until the very last minute since I was flying standby!

There was a bit of a snafu getting the tickets, but flying standby since I was a child, I'm kind of used to that kind of thing. I just always expect there will be issues that come up when flying standby and that I have to wait at least 2-3 flights.

The snafus? First, after telling my family member to list my cello a million times, he didn't believe me so he didn't list the cello. I had to text him while I was at the ticketing counter, fortunately, he was working at the airport so he ran out and listed the cello quickly, although he sent me the incorrect confirmation number and listed it under my first name instead of "Cello" followed by my last name; e.g. "Jane Doe" & "Cello Doe."

My husband walked me to the security gate and was going to wait to see if I made it on the plane. If I didn't make it on to the first flight I would hand off the cello to him and then fly cello-less since they had a cello waiting for me at the workshop as well. 

I went through the security area and watched my cello go through the conveyor belt, walked through the metal detectors and was able to watch my cello go through the x-ray scan while watching the monitor as it did. It was really interesting and fun to see the skeleton of the cello, with the endpin and pegheds evident against the outline of the cello body. I was very tempted to take a picture, but I'm sure the security personnel would have objected and may have even taken my iphone from me. 

I had read through this wonderful blog about traveling: so I felt somewhat prepared, so when I got to the gate I immediately went to the agent and verified that I was listed, which was a good thing I did because one of the agents had deleted the other ticket because she thought it was a duplicate listing. I guess a good rule of thumb: ALWAYS confirm your seats at the gate and tell them you are traveling with a cello regardless if you are flying standby or not. From reading other blogs, they may provide additional instruction and information anyway.

Luckily I got on and didn't have to wait for the next flight; however, just as I reached the door to the plane a flight attendant stepped off the plane almost to block me from getting on and exclaimed, "I'm sorry, but we don't have room for that cello!" Luckily the ticket agent had followed me down to the airplane door and quickly responded "don't worry the cello has a seat." Which got me wondering if family members who fly standby get better treatment?

Anyway, I followed instructions from the other blog and once I got onto the plane, smiled nicely and asked one of the flight attendants, "may I have an extender strap?" He looked somewhat surprised that I knew what that was and said, "sure, let me get that for you."

I definitely got a bunch of stares and curious looks walking down the aisle. It was kind of weird. ..hhhmmm..I think I've come up with an interesting idea for a sociology experiment! ;).

Anyway, I got to the seats and tried to position the cello into the seat but kept bumping into the arm rests and had to pull them up first. Then I tried to put the cello in its seat but it wouldn't fit, so I reached down and pulled the seat up which made a fairly loud ripping sound because it was attached with heavy velcro. A little old lady sitting across the aisle from me commented that it looked like I knew what I was doing and that I must have traveled a lot with the cello (which of course, this was my first time). I just smiled and nodded. I think ripping off the seat a little too enthusiastically looked like confidence or something! ;).
I put the seat on the floor, positioned my cello and buckled him in with the extender strap!

My cello sitting beside me on the airplane - with a seat belt no less!
I was going to take more pictures, but I was already getting a bunch of weird stares so I just snuck one photo.

Have I mentioned how cumbersome a cello is yet?
Well, after picking up my luggage: 1 big suitcase, 1 small suitcase, a carry on and my cello it was a really pain in the you know what! If I wasn't getting curious glances before, well now, it was a bit more obvious! Come on, really? Never seen someone travel with a cello before?? ...well, actually I never have and I travel fairly frequently! Lol! :)

After an hour of waiting, my shuttle arrived. I had missed the previous shuttle by mere minutes and had to wait more than an hour for the next one.

The shuttle arrived 15-20 min late and as the bus driver was loading the baggage under the bus, he asked if I wanted to put the cello underneath. I shook my head, smiled, said "no thanks" and quickly headed towards the bus doors because I got the impression he was going to insist, which I understood why as soon as I stepped onto the bus. The bus aisles were SUPER small and it was EXTREMELY difficult to maneuver the aisles without bumping into people and chairs! There was one row left with two seats next to each other at the very back of the bus - those poor people I bumped into! Sorry! 
I put the cello in the chair beside me, with me crammed between the window and cello because there was no room by the window due to the overhead racks - and I mean crammed! I must have looked so funny squished between the window and cello...

Two hours later I arrived at my hotel, tired and completely understanding why people drive with their cellos instead of flying! Arriving at the hotel was definitely a welcomed respite!

At the check-in desk, I innocently asked if the walls were fairly thick and if it would be okay if I practiced. She shook her head and told me that she would put me as far away as possible so as not to disturb the other guests - which I knew would be the case!
In this three floor hotel, she put me on the third floor, at the very back of the hotel, in the corner of the building near the elevator! Literally, as far as possible!'s not like I'm playing drums or! ;).

iPhone photo of my hotel room.
FOOD!!! I didn't eat all day until I got to the hotel - I was starving!

Traveling with a cello is just plain exhausting... I wonder how professional cellists do it!

Traveling with a cello reminds me of owning a pet or something. You sacrifice your comfort to ensure that your "pet cello" is taken care of and in return, you receive the enjoyment of learning how to play and the cello "grows" with you. It's no wonder that cellists become really attached to their cello!

I'll blog about my workshop days too, but from what I've read and been told, there's very spotty wireless (if any) so I'll probably have to post the entries when I get back. The camp is in the redwood forest, so it'll be fun taking photos of that as well! :).


  1. Sounds like quite a trip. I'm anxious to compare your experiences with mine at Cellospeak several weeks ago. Sounds like you are having more of an adventure (flying, long cab rides, camp in the 'big trees' etc) - hope to hear more about the schedule and your reactions

    1. Hi Robert,

      I would LOVE to hear about your experiences at Cellospeak as well! I'm going next year, but wasn't sure if I should do the technique week or ensemble week. Wish I could do both, but I can't take that many days off from work! :)

      I spoke to someone at this camp who really enjoyed attending Cellospeak as well, but wasn't able to make it this year.