My name is Jim McGarvey. I live near Rochester, New York and work as an engineer at Kodak. I started to play the cello in November of 2009, at the age of 51. I’m sharing the story of that adventure in hopes it will entertain – and encourage you to pick up the instrument you always wanted to play and give it a try.

I created this blog in May of 2010. I’ve dated the first posts according to the story chronology, not the time of posting. The missing posts will be finished someday!

My other blogs are God is Kind and Retro Telecine.

Please post a comment or email me at…

cello @ godiskind . com

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  1. Dianne Cottrill

    September 12, 2010 at 9:25 pm

    Jim have only read through a couple of these, and scanned several more. Great writing, as I told you before.

    I am still in Gurnee, IL–been gone from home since June 3!
    Hard to believe. Keep up the good work, writing and the music. I keep telling my husband “you need music in your soul”. For some reason, he does not love music as we do in our family. Cello is one of the most beautiful sounds when played well. Good luck.

  2. Melanie Vanderwege

    August 19, 2011 at 8:40 am

    Hello Jim,
    I just came across the cello after 50 website. I turn 50 in Oct. I studied cello seriously when I was younger. I am trying to get back at it but get discouraged sometimes and think who cares if I can still play (now that I am old)…your website is inspiring me not to give up on it!! Thanks

  3. Talent Teoh

    September 7, 2011 at 1:09 am

    I came across your blog while researching the quality of the Merano cello that I am considering for my daughter who is starting cello lessons. Are you satisfy with the sound and the quality of the cello? Love to hear what your thoughts are about the Merano cello.

  4. jimmymc

    September 7, 2011 at 9:04 am

    Talent Teoh…

    Well, yes and no. I don’t have any complaints about the sound of the Merano cello I have. Especially when my friend Sam plays it, it sounds beautiful!

    However, the cello needed some work to be usable, especially for a beginner like me. As I wrote in the blog, the tuning pegs were difficult and I replaced them with bass guitar heads. You could more easily replace them with Wittner or PegHeads, that would go right in the existing peg holes.

    More significantly, I sanded down the fingerboard at the bridge end and lowered the bridge and nut, because the fingerboard was deeply scooped and the strings were too high to finger easily. That kind of work is not hard if you are careful and have some woodworking skills, but if you have to pay a luthier to do it, then you haven’t saved any money on the cello!

    In short, I wanted a low cost cello to experiment with, and I wasn’t hesitant to work on it, since it was so cheap. But if you are not up to that kind of work yourself, I wouldn’t recommend it. I think your daughter could be quite frustrated with it.

  5. Howard Bowers

    December 11, 2011 at 2:41 am

    Good job Jim, is a very good article and I enjoyed it very much, Thanks .I am about a year behind you , but am going down the same path. 61 years now and learning to play . The sound of a well played cello is like the sound of a mother humming a tune to a child needing sleep, maybe that’s why we find the sound of the cello so comforting and easy to listen to. write when you can my friend. HB

  6. Joyce

    December 25, 2011 at 7:54 am

    Have thoroughly enjoyed your blog.:) I have hit the 1/2 century mark as well, and started up the cello, so it was fun to read of your adventures. Thank you for taking the time to share what you have learned!

  7. Walter Hadley

    March 3, 2012 at 1:04 am

    What an excellent description of your Cello journey. At 62 I bought myself an old German Cello and started lessons Mid January. My goal likewise is hymns, etc and you have
    Given me Hope in addition to the Trepidation I have had.

    And then to find you might have some help with the thousands of feet of Super -8 film I have that need to be digitized……Wow.

    Great site, well presented and very entertaining, thanks much


  8. Joakim Kuusemaa

    October 21, 2012 at 10:42 pm


    I’m a 27 year old designer from Estonia who has been playing bass guitar (6 string) for a few years which I like but Cello always makes me shiver inside so I’m thinking of picking it up too. Your blog is quite inspirational as people seem to think I am already too old for it…but I want to.


  9. Phill

    November 25, 2012 at 1:06 am

    Hi Jim,

    I just picked up my rental cello today. I’m looking to teach myself and checked out some resources online. I was promptly discouraged by people who say it can’t, or shouldn’t, be done. Until I found your site, which I’m favoriting.

    I especially liked that you mentioned Hans Zentgraf. This is actually my second attempt, as a few years ago I tried to learn the cello by myself and I used his videos. I had to smile when you mentioned his opening line on his first video. I’ll be getting the book by Vera Jiji this time around as well.

    I look forward to learning the cello with you Jim. I’ll be following your blog.

  10. John Mabardi

    July 7, 2013 at 10:46 pm

    Like you I’m an engineer who never played any music or read any music until retirement 5 years ago. Started cello with Jiji book, read Never too late, fell in love with the cello. Took a year of Suzuki lessons and discovered the obvious: 1) that I needed the private lessons. 2) that the thrill is in every day’s minute progress. Now I’m past suzukyi and loving it. Do not give up, you’re much younger than I am; even a lesson per month will be very helpful with the right coach. Best, John

  11. Stephanie

    December 2, 2014 at 2:59 pm

    As a result of a live chamber music concert hosted by my former employer; held in a tiny church built in the 1800s that seemed to embody the most exquisite acoustics; I fell in love with the all enveloping sound and resonance of the cello. That was in my mid twenties. Approximately a decade later after relocating to NYC, a random subway conversation about anything but cello introduced me to a Cellist and inspired me to take on trial lessons. After 4 or 5 lessons, this birthday gift to myself solidified my resolve to reserve some funds to propel several weeks or months of cello lessons at a time. And so finally a year later I accomplished this feat. Not easy on a graduate school education living on a Bachelor’s degree salary, while job hunting for a professional home to grow and thrive in. This summer marked the true beginning. Or so I thought. I rented a cello & began lessons again, however after nearly 8 weeks, twice a week, scheduling and financial challenges once again hijacked this plan. Acculturating my left hand fingertips to developing the needed resilience has also been quite challenging to manage might I add. So, in my disappointment, for several weeks I barely touched it. All logic said _I should return the cello and ask for a refund of the rental cost for the time unused. All self-critique and inspiration-squelching harped in with_your hands are probably too weak_you’re too old_it will take you years to learn to play by yourself 1 simple song. Yet, in the moments of break through from all of that noise, I would pick it up and just play with making sounds and practice some of the very bare bones techniques I had been taught. In those moments the pure joy of hearing the strings vibrate be it plucked or bowed warned me_if I give up now, to wait for some seeming arrangement of “perfection” in my life circumstances, I never will learn. That’s when the defiance in me sends me online looking for youtube videos and other “non-muscians” who have learned this instrument. The defiant one in me says find the free tutorials you like and build a schedule to work from. The defiant one in me found you today & thanks you immensely! I know what my Xmass gift to myself will be (Vera’s book + maybe 1 more). And from this moment forward I am looking at myself and the tools available to me as the gem cutter and the gem cutter’s tools….my teacher or other teachers in the future will be my gem polishers. With regard to my own cello adventure: I’ve mined this most precious jewel (joy, specifically joy from evoking sounds from the instrument), Yet if I fail to clean off that jewel and learn to cut it to reveal it’s fullest potential, that joy can never be shared. Be it musically or in all the other areas of life that contagious joy has a wonderful way of improving. THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH FOR SHARING YOUR STORIES AND RESOURCES!!!

  12. Georgena Massingill

    November 17, 2015 at 12:47 am

    I played the Upright Bass and Cello from school up until my JR. year in high school.. the Cello has always been my favorite Instrument. I had a dream of playing again…and so.. I bought that sucker and I love it… been spending allot of time with it, remembering and reminiscing (Wow! you really do remember your first music teacher forever) watching you tube tutorials and browsing the net. My body has changed over the years with Rheumatoid Arthritis… I’m having issues with my position and posture and all that jazz. My Cello (Bella) is built WAY different than the Classic Cello as it is electric (Cecilio). I’m not looking to be a star at 44 years old, I just want to be able hit a note without that thing screeching, cracking horrible thing that’s happening. The guys at Jam night are laughing at me! I know that time and practice is the key to success with any instrument.
    I have the books, tutorials, the internet, and … get this… “there’s an app for that” :-).. yes that’s right…there is a cello teacher app…. honestly it’s really not bad. The only thing it’s missing is the real person… I guess I thought a little magic teacher was gonna pop out of it and give me that personal touch, ya know.. tap me on the shoulder with the magic wand and suddenly making my sound awesome and sending me off on tour.. LMAO!
    But seriously… My hang up is in the bowing.. (my thumbs have turned a bit and I need to adapt too a different way, if someone could just point me in that direction that would be great! I still play the Bass Guitar (the upright is much more fun) and lord knows I love to beat them bones… But I mostly just do open jams with the guys, the ear technique has gotten me this far. I have a desire to get more technical with it and would like to be able to put what’s in my ears on paper.
    Much needed information here in the Cello community.
    Thank You for building it!
    Got a feeling I’ll be hanging out here allot.

  13. Cindi H.

    February 24, 2016 at 7:41 pm

    At age 63, I start my first lesson on Monday. I love the sound of this instrument and am playing around with my rented instrument. My first video was the one by Graf. Not afraid of being too old – I have an 88 year old mother so I’m expecting a long life. Started playing drums at 54, had the experience of being in a couple shortlived bands but I’m ready for a change and looking for to playing melodies. Interested to see how many other instruments you can play along with. Good to see that there are many of us on this journey. Keep this blog going!

  14. Patricia McCandlish

    March 16, 2016 at 7:34 am

    Hi Jim, I enjoyed reading your blog, I’m 61 and want to learn cello, I play the harp and have always loved the low tone of the cello

    Right now I’m looking for a teacher and a cello, this will be interesting.

    Have a great day!