I was born to be a cello prodigy

A broken wrist at age 10 cost me a dream that was a lifetime in the making.


by Lily Hart, Editor-in-Chief

There’s a spare few moments in life where one can see the fork in the road. Mine was a cold November day in 2011 when I was only 10 years old. I broke my wrist at a roller skating party. This is when my entire life changed. For the better, or for the worst, you might ask? Only my eulogy will tell.

I thought “this is okay, it’s only my wrist, right?” Wrong. I broke my radius at the growth plate, which means they had to put me under and reset my wrist. I woke up from anesthesia in a full-arm plaster cast, dreams shattered. I had missed my shot.

I was born to be a cello-playing child prodigy, and I missed my shot.

In fourth grade at Academie Lafayette, I was the only kid in the grade tall enough to use a full-sized cello and successfully reach all the way around to play it. Despite the fact that I had never even heard of a cello before, I was still an invaluable talent, and was incessantly recruited by our music teacher Mr. Swanson. Frankly, I get it. It’s rare that you find a kid not involved in anything, with no musical talent, who can fit a full-sized cello in the fourth grade.

Imagine how different the AL sound would have been with the sweet, deep melody of a cello accompanying the 15 recorder players, one guitar player and three-man trumpet section.

Imagine: we cut to the winter concert. In the middle of a screeching rendition of “My Girl,” or “La Vie en Rose,” or anything by Stromae, the lights dim. The spotlight clicks on and shines on me, the star, for my cello solo. My half-bangs and low founding-father-style ponytail glistening in the light, I begin to play. The audience goes quiet. You hear sniffling coming from my parents who finally see their cello-playing dreams manifesting themselves in me, their only daughter.

The delayed applause shakes the Oak Street auditorium. Encore, encore, the people yell. Sadly, I can’t oblige them, since Mr. Brichet’s 5th grade class was on next. And, due to a lack of planning, the concert was running two hours late. 

None of this came to be. My broken arm came right before band auditions. I thought to myself, “a strip of plaster cast is what stands between me and my dreams. I can defeat western medicine.” Ah, how naive I was.

I stood in front of my mirror in my room the night before, struggling to make do with one hand. (Imagine a montage here.) Fourth grade me, trying to hold a ruler like a bow… but I couldn’t even touch my pinky to my thumb. I stare at myself, beads of sweat dripping down my face. I spent hours, months, years, trying to hold something — anything — with my left arm. Finally, after a few minutes of trying, I collapsed in defeat. What’s more, my elbow itched inside my cast.

My music career ended before it began. My mom never bought me a cello, and threw away the band flyers with tears in her eyes (I assume).

“There goes her shot,” my mom said (probably). “Hopefully she can still have a successful future without the cello.”

Time will tell.

Where would I be if I had started playing the cello eight years ago? The symphony? A prestigious conservatory? “America’s Got Talent?” “My Strange Addiction?” Who knows. It was like if someone said to me, “hey, here’s a great opportunity to change your life and you’re beautiful!”… and then karate-chopped me in the back of the head.

I was born to be a cello prodigy, but a clean break to my radius threw me off track. Ever since that fateful day, I have been trying to find something to replace my passion for the cello, which I assume would have consumed me. I have never actually played one, but I know I would have been great.

This setback is, I’m sure, what ended my participation in musical activities. I quit Mr. Swanson’s choir a year later… oh, how I disappointed that man. If only he could see me now.

Hear my melancholy laments, dear readers, and take one piece of advice from a bitter old sack like me: don’t go roller skating at Skate City, it will end your cello career.