Heid: Jam sessions

I have played the cello since I was 8 years old. For a long while, I actually thought I was going to pursue a career as a professional cellist. While I ultimately discovered my career on another path, I still play — I’ve played in a symphony, a string trio and a rock band in my adult life.

john's mom works by Jess Heid

john’s mom works
by Jess Heid

At 4, John has proven to be very responsive and fascinated by music. So last night when my husband suggested I pull out the cello to play for John, I thought that was a grand idea.

John set up two chairs in our currently empty dining room, and I pulled out my cello.

“Here, mommy — you sit here and I’ll sit here,” my stage-director son told me.

I began to play what I could play from memory — one of the preludes to a Bach unaccompanied suite. (This is some of the best music ever, by the way. If you’re not familiar, go check it out!)

“No, no, no, mommy! Play ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star!” John interjected.

Right, rule number one of a performance: remember your audience.

So we played “Twinkle Twinkle.” And we played “ABCs.” (“Mommy! That sounds like

‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star!’ Those are the same sound!”)

Then a glint came into John’s eyes. “Can we play rock and roll?”

I knew this request was coming. After all, this is the kid who wants rock and roll on the radio every time we’re in the car. And I can play rock and roll on the cello, believe it or not … but usually I do so with a band. Not solo. I was a little stumped.

“John,” I started hesitantly, “I’m not sure Mommy can play rock and roll on the cello all by herself.”

He looked around. I could see the wheels in his brain turning. He gleefully grabbed his toy hand-cymbals.

“I’ll be your band, mommy!”

So with John banging away at the cymbals, and me making dying-cat sounds in the high register of my cello, we played some rock and roll. Occasionally John would pipe in some vocals that were certainly the highest musical caliber.

I feel sort of bad for Daddy hanging out in the other room.

But John and I had a blast. We jammed for about 10 minutes, which in 4-year-old-land is an all-night jam. We’d stop, start a new song, and John even took a turn on the cello.

By the time we shut the club down for the night, we were both giggling and laughing and giddy.

I’ve played with some amazing musicians in my lifetime, and played some gigs in front of really energetic crowds. I’ve played in some cool venues with truly awesome acoustics and under the direction of some remarkable conductors.

But our dining room jam session might be one of my favorite gigs ever. I’m hoping we’ll be asked back soon.

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