When you are buying a new instrument, whether for yourself or someone else, it feels like opening (and closing) many doors. The last time I went instrument shopping, it was for myself. In the past 10 years, I have bought both a violin and a viola. As an adult, I found that experience fun.
But I remember the experience as a teen being stressful. I played several instruments and tried to think about tone, sound, playability, etc, but the looming questions in the back of my mind were always things like, would my teachers like it? Would my parents complain about the price? Was this instrument “worth it?” I had a hard time focusing on what was important.
Now my teenage son needed a new cello, so it was time to start the process again. What’s behind door number 1?
Especially for this age player, it makes sense to take a teacher’s advice. We ended up back in San Francisco, at the shop of Roland Feller, who takes care of my son’s teacher’s instruments and where many of her students have bought cellos and bows.
I was a little hesitant to go into San Francisco at all because of the traffic and the parking. I’ve taken the train in a few times, and I’ve been geocaching and touring the city with family earlier in the year, but it is always an “Event” when I go, not merely an errand.
What made this trip special, however, was that his teacher went the extra mile and made it fun as well as educational. We first checked out the Degas Exhibit at the Legion of Honor before the shop opened and had a nice lunch. It was also a beautiful day in the city. We brought umbrellas, just to guarantee that it wouldn’t rain, and sure enough the sun was shining.
When we got to the shop, she played 12 cellos in an hour, narrowing it down to two instruments for us to take home and my son to decide between. The walk back to the car, even with only 2 cellos in tow, was a bit of a trek, but made more delightful by the houses in the area. I’ve blogged before about the iconic “Painted Ladies” of San Francisco, but they aren’t the only ones!
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