I read this Strad article the other day which sent me on a trip down memory lane: http://www.thestrad.com/latest/blogs/travelling-with-cellos-on-trains-and-planes-is-never-easy
And I decided it might be fun to share with you a few of my cello travel-adventures.
The Burning Bus
I was so excited to be travelling with my orchestra! The day we left, I sprayed my bangs up extra high and packed my caboodle with all my fancy travel toiletries and hip Swatch watch. This was going to be a BLAST!
Everything seemed fine for a while until the bus stopped. We were in the most remote part of the Florida panhandle, and I remember thinking: Who chose this time to take a potty break? There's no McDonald's in sight.
The bus driver got off the bus and circled around the to the back . Maybe it was because I had somehow weasled my way into the "cool" section of the bus, but no one around me showed any signs of panic. Apparently, we had no idea what was going on. Even when the driver came back on and calmly grabbed the fire extinguisher, we still sat motionless until someone yelled, "It didn't work!"
Suddenly we became aware of the flames shooting out from somewhere beneath the "cool" section, and a frenzy erupted--a tangle of gangly legs and arms fighting to get out.
Only then did I see that there was no school-bus-type emergency exit in the back. Why had I wanted to sit here?!
The adults, who were smart enough to have positioned themselves near the door, yelled at us to leave everything behind. Duh.
Don't worry, we all escaped unscathed. But every single violin and viola was burned to ashes, along with my beloved caboodle and Swatch watch (I still mourn for these items). I was secretly hoping my crappy rental cello might perish in the flames as well, but some heroic parent took it upon himself to fling to safety all the large instruments that had been stored underneath the bus. So I was reunited with the yellow beast after the shop had patched all the dings with a hideous blood red varnish that made the cello look as though it had been vandalized (and only intensified my disdain for that particular instrument).
Needless to say, we didn't play the festival.
Cello Choir in Chile
More Cellos on a Plane (or not!)
The people in charge refused to buy a seat for my cello and insisted I use a cello that I would receive once I got there. It turned out to be horribly set up. The strings were so high off the fingerboard that I could barely press them down. I had an awful first performance on that cello. Though I got more comfortable with it as the tour went on, it was a terribly difficult time for me, and I swore I would never do that again.
Many years later, I found myself touring China. Only now, instead of playing on one strange cello that I could get used to during the three-week tour, I had a new cello in every city--super fun! In some cities, we would show up and have to put the strings and bridges on the instruments ourselves, like they had just come straight from the factory, They had never been played. Ever. A few times they were nearly unplayable, but we struggled through. The show must go on!
Here are a few stories of cellos with plane tickets that didn't go so well:
Hopefully you won't ever have these problems...Happy travels, fellow cellists!