Lifestyle

It’s Never Too Late to Play the Cello

“It’s By no means Too Late” is a brand new sequence that tells the tales of people that resolve to pursue their goals on their very own phrases.


In 1940, at age 12, Vera Jiji discovered her first ardour: the cello. She realized to like taking part in the orchestra instrument on the Excessive Faculty of Music & Artwork in Manhattan. “I didn’t choose the cello. They assigned it to me as a result of I had ear and lengthy fingers,” mentioned the Bronx native, now 93. “I cherished it. It’s a good looking instrument that may sound like a human voice. It appeared like a feminine physique, with hips, breasts and a waist. Holding it and taking part in it was a really intimate expertise.”

As an grownup, although, she stopped taking part in the instrument. She turned a professor and a fixture at Brooklyn Faculty instructing English courses. She married twice and had 4 youngsters. Her beloved cello, her mom’s highschool commencement current, sat tucked away behind her clothes closet. It remained untouched, virtually forgotten, for about 40 years. She picked up her cello once more solely after retiring at 62.

“I revived the fervour I all the time felt once I began taking part in once more,” she mentioned. Since then, it has been like a second life.

At present Dr. Jiji, who lives together with her 93-year-old husband in an Higher East Aspect townhouse, will be discovered taking part in most Fridays with different amateurs and mates in two musical teams, a trio and a string quartet, on the 92nd Road Y. She’s additionally part of the Y’s annual musical efficiency. In 2007 she self-published her first guide, “Cello Taking part in for Music Lovers,” which is offered on Amazon in additional than 20 nations. (The next interview has been edited and condensed.)

What made you come to music in spite of everything these years?

Brooklyn Faculty gave me companions and socialization with different lecturers and college students. I felt necessary socially. Once I retired, I misplaced that. I felt empty and wanted to exchange that loss and neighborhood. I wished to fulfill folks within the neighborhood.

How did you’re feeling about retiring?

I believed my life was over; it wasn’t. I needed to discover a completely different street. I believed in regards to the street I took once I was youthful, and the one I didn’t take as a result of I used to be a spouse and a mom of 4 and had a profession. I believed in regards to the street I didn’t journey — one crammed with music — and realized I ought to take that street now. I couldn’t take each on the similar time. The one I took turned my life. I went again to the fork and took the opposite street to see the place it will take me.

How do you know the place to begin?

I’m a half a block away from the 92nd Road Y. I walked in and requested about courses; they’d a artistic music class for folks over 60 and instructed me to simply present up. I believed I must take a check, however I didn’t. I used to be on the piano, seated subsequent to an teacher who mentioned, “Let’s see the way you play,” when somebody walked in carrying a cello. I couldn’t consider it. I requested if I may play it and I fell in love with the instrument immediately.

What did that really feel like?

Like coming residence. All of it got here flooding again, and it was great. I felt like I used to be reconnecting with a finest pal. I wanted the chance to play music and have these different musicians in my life. This was a return to a prized ardour.

What have you ever gained by returning to this ardour?

Music is an ideal language; it’s like a dialog between individuals who by no means misunderstand one another and by no means get bored. If you play music with folks, it’s a form of friendship. Music is a world of delight. It has given me a option to talk with out utilizing phrases. It gave me a subsequent step in life.

What made you write your guide, “Cello Taking part in for Music Lovers”?

I appeared for different books I may flip to, and didn’t discover something useful. So I made a decision to write down one. As an English professor, I knew how to do that. I’m good at articulating concepts, with the ability to put issues down in a manner folks can observe, and I’m disciplined sufficient to sit down down on a regular basis and write. I made it a follow to cease at a particular level the place I knew what I wished to say going ahead. I by no means stopped once I was at a loss. That manner I may proceed the subsequent day understanding I had route and wouldn’t get overwhelmed. And I wished to assist others.

How do you’re feeling about this stage in your life?

I’m 93. Folks view age incorrectly: Getting older doesn’t imply you may’t have one thing, you may. And getting older isn’t getting worse. I’m about having fun with the second. You must rise up every morning and do one thing you like. That’s how you progress ahead.

What’s your finest recommendation for folks trying to make a change?

Don’t be afraid to return to one thing you really liked. Folks say no to issues too shortly. We aren’t all the time our greatest mates. Your ardour or expertise are nonetheless there. You’ll bear in mind greater than you suppose. All of the details about music I believed I’d misplaced was in part of my mind that wasn’t speaking to me till I tapped again into it.

What have you ever realized throughout this new act in your life?

Despite the fact that I used to be growing older I realized I may nonetheless re-enter this glorious world of making music. And the neighborhood I misplaced I discovered once more. Music gave me a brand new group of individuals. It gave me help. It gave me a brand new residence.

On this second act, what are you most pleased with engaging in?

Writing and publishing “Cello Taking part in for Music Lovers.” I lived, I died; what did I give the world? This guide, which can outlast me. Once I’m gone, it will nonetheless be right here, serving to folks be taught the cello.

What lesson can folks be taught out of your expertise?

Don’t say no to your self.


We’re in search of individuals who resolve that it’s by no means too late to modify gears, change their life and pursue goals. Ought to we speak to you or somebody you realize? Share your story right here.

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