String Fling 2010

January 17, 2010

Last Tuesday in my lesson my teacher, who is the director of the Kansas State University String Fling, asked me if I would like to participate. String Fling is an annual weekend long rehearsal and concert for 5th through 9th grade string players. Students from all over Kansas converge on Manhattan for the weekend to rehearse and then perform for their families and friends. This was the 37th annual String Fling.

While I am obviously not a 5th grader, my teacher felt it would be a fun experience for me, and that the kids would get a kick out of having a beginning adult in the orchestra with them. Since I've only been playing since November, I sat in with one of the 5th grade groups for the weekend.

It was great fun. At one point on Saturday two of my fellow cellists, a pair of girls, approached me after a break and asked how long I have been playing cello. I said since November, to which they replied they had started in September. When I told this story to Sibylle she remarked that their question was no doubt preceded by a lengthy round of, "You ask him." "No, you ask him." "I'm not going to ask him!" "I'll ask him if you do."

We had two rehearsals yesterday, narrowing in on five pieces, two folk songs, an arrangement of Ode to Joy, a piece that featured the cellos in "solo," and our finale, Fancy Fiddles. The finale was 79 measures in total, considerable longer than any of the other pieces. This morning, after a final rehearsal, we moved to the main stage in McCain Auditorium and played our pieces.

For me today's concert was the first time I had been on stage performing music. Ever. In high school I had a small walk-on-walk-off part in a play, and in grade school I performed once in Your A Good Man Charlie Brown. I found playing on stage to be exciting and very satisfying.

I am looking forward to the 38th Annual String Fling next year. And I am starting to think it will be fun to play in a group on a regular basis, perhaps a quartet or trio.

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Mark H. Nichols

I am a husband, cellist, code prole, nerd, technologist, and all around good guy living and working in fly-over country. You should follow me on Twitter.