More Sparky, With Cello

I haven’t even mentioned here that Sparky got a new cello.

It was about a month ago. When school began this year and lessons started up again, Sparky’s teacher mentioned that he’d grown over the summer. (This was not news to us; all the pants he’d had to roll up at the beginning of the calendar year were now just barely long enough for his legs.) Come the new year, she said, we’d have to look for a new cello, the next size up.

Let’s take a quick stroll down memory lane.

This was Sparky with the 1/4 size rental cello:

This was Sparky with a 1/8 size rental cello, the proper proportion for his size at the time (he was 5 1/2):

This was Sparky with his very own brand-new-to-him 1/8 size cello, the purchase of which was documented here). (It looks bigger than the other 1/8, but that’s just the angle of the photograph.):

Well, this was Sparky this past September, with that same 1/8 cello:

Yeah, we knew he was growing. We’d have been blind not to notice.

Because it’s not every day the right size cello pops up in the classifieds, I started watching local ads for a used one at an affordable price. There were 1/4 cellos out there for more than I could afford, of course. I needed to keep an eye on things and jump on the right one as soon as it was listed.

As fortune would have it, that cello showed up the second day I checked, priced at five hundred dollars. And it was five minutes away, to boot. So we made an appointment and went to check it out. It was perfect — nice sound, no cracks or open seams, a well-repaired neck — so I made another appointment to go back with the payment and to pick it up. The sound is quite nice; the simple fact that the body of the instrument is bigger means there’s more room for the sound to resonate and for the vibrations to amplify, so that’s a big help.

Sparky now had a new cello! Which meant we needed to sell his old one to recoup the money. I listed it at the same price, taking into account the three hundred dollars of work we’d had done to it to bring it up to playable state, the new bow we’d bought, and the new case. Two weeks ago I had a query on it, from a couple in Quebec City, who were looking for an instrument for their four-year-old son to start lessons with. (Aww!) It’s rare to find a 1/8 cello listed for resale, so I understand why they queried me; heck, we bought this one in Ottawa, remember? They obviously couldn’t come see it, but we had long chats on the phone and via e-mail about it, I answered a lot of questions for them, and we made a date for their son’s teacher to come see it the next time he visited Montreal. (He travels here to visit the same luthier we use! That was a good omen.) He came by this morning and gave it a good workout, then asked me if I was really asking only five hundred for it, because it was a really good little cello, and outfits usually go for much more. Yes, I explained, I only listed it at that price because we got a really good deal on it and I only added the amounts we’d paid for the bow and the case and the upgrades; I wanted it to go to another child who would love it and enable a family who might not otherwise be able to afford it to buy it. He said that he’d recommend it at that price without hesitation; heck, he’d recommend it at a higher price. So he called the couple who were interested, and they agreed, and we compromised on $475. Sparky’s first cello has gone to a very good home. And the teacher voluntarily promised to make sure it went to another good home when the current wee cellist outgrew it. And he took the wee cello away with him.

So, as HRH pointed out on the phone, through the magic of creative financing, we kind only paid $25 for Sparky’s new cello, which tickles me. I didn’t haggle with the woman selling the 1/4 because, as she said, it’s kind of a complicit thing: it’s like a closed community and we’re all supporting one another. It’s like passing good karma along, and encouraging our kids.

The only drawback is that the buyers wanted the small 1/10 bow we bought for Sparky when the 1/8 bow proved just a bit too long for him to balance properly. That’s understandable; the new wee cellist is four and a half, and he’s going to need a smaller bow, too. That means Sparky just started using the 1/4 bow we got with the newer cello, and you can tell he’s not quite comfortable with it yet. Although, our teacher told him he was doing all the right things to get used to it and that his hold was still pretty good for working with a new bow. And the case for the new cello doesn’t have backpack straps, which we miss a lot, but we’ll manage.

I don’t yet have a photo of him with it; he has refused each time I’ve asked. But we have a recital coming up in two weeks, so I’ll try to get one then. Or rather, I’ll have to ask someone else, because I’m accompanying him again!

I am a wee bit nostalgic, because Sparky got that 1/8 cello not long before Owlet was born, so we’ve had it as long as she’s been around.

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