The cello: Calming my mania one note at a time
I went to the symphony Wednesday night. I haven’t been to the symphony in years. I don’t know why, because I love the symphony and I can walk to the performing arts center (and you can get a ticket really cheap if you wait until the last minute and they haven’t sold out).
Anyway, I got to the symphony a few minutes before it began and, of course, my seat was in the middle of the row and everyone had to get up so I could get in. I was tired from working all day and didn’t need any more dirty looks. I really wasn’t in the mood.
And then it happened. I looked at the program and saw two of my favorite words: cello solo. A beautiful young woman from Vienna took the stage in a flowing emerald green gown, sat on a little dais and began to play her cello.
I closed my eyes. I don’t know what it is about the cello. Something about the timbre of a cello that stops my brain. Literally. It is a very weird phenomenon. I stop thinking. I guess this is what meditation is about. I have tried to meditate but I have what the Buddhists call “monkey brain” – AKA mania. For those of us with bipolar disorder, meditation has about the same degree of difficulty as sitting through a haircut, color, highlights, and blow dry on a Saturday afternoon. Give me gray!
I sat there in the symphony hall, my eyes closed, and the only thing in my cluttered brain was the deep resonance of the cello. It was like part of my brain shut off and just followed the sound. The words and chatter stopped. But when the entire orchestra played, my brain filled again. Another cello solo and it emptied. Back and forth.
I love all music. I always have and I have known for decades that music is very powerful. I must be careful with what I listen to. Put on some Sarah McLachlan and I will get all melodramatic and probably cry. Play some Aerosmith and I want to take off my clothes and dance on the bar. Music is THAT powerful to me.
When I was a teenager, waaaaaay back in the 1970s, I would lay on the floor of the basement with my head between two speakers and blast The Who or Led Zeppelin – trying to make everything stop – just stop. When I began running marathons, I created playlists to accompany long slow runs, or sprints or tempo drills.
I love all music – G Love, Gershwin, Snoop Dogg, Sibelius , Beck, The Beatles – pretty much anything but Barry Manilow. But the cello – a solo cello – is like a drug. It is a tool and I have decided to put it my toolbox, along with my medications, diet, therapy, sleep, and exercise.
I think I am going to need a bigger toolbox.
Stapleton, C. (2010). The cello: Calming my mania one note at a time. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 29, 2016, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/depression/2010/02/the-cello-calming-my-mania-one-note-at-a-time/