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Yeah, but you have to sign up at the NY times and they latch on to you like a bulldog after that. I've been trying to get rid of their related e-mails for the last two years from a link that was posted here.

Why not just give us an idea of what the article is about? Or, even paste part of it here?

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Nice story.


Keeping Hands on Wheel, and on Bow, and Strings


IT being Wednesday, Hugh McDonald parked on the West Side and reached for the large black case that contains his obsession. He tugged on the bill of his baseball cap and started walking east, toward Carnegie Hall.

You might guess his profession just by looking at his clothes: gray pants, blue sweater, white shirt bearing the company name, and blue tie with the pattern of small buses. Mr. McDonald is a bus driver, at least by day.

He is 54, unassuming and agreeable, the kind of man who says, "Yes, uh-huh" a lot. But once he makes a decision, he can be as rigid as a bus schedule. He now eats salad every day for lunch, because no way is Hugh McDonald going to be another overweight bus driver.

He and his wife, Beverly, live with their four dogs in Berlin, N.J., not far from Philadelphia. She runs a pet grooming business out of the house, and he steers a 45-foot, 57-passenger commuter bus for Academy bus lines.

At 5:30 every weekday morning, he drives 30 miles to the bus depot in Westampton, climbs aboard his assigned bus and drives 25 miles to East Windsor, then Monroe, then Jamesburg, and finally to the park-and-ride lot at Exit 8-A of the New Jersey Turnpike. Next stop, Manhattan. He lingers a few hours, collects his passengers and returns to deep New Jersey, though he does not reach his own home until 8 or 9 at night. His long bus drives have no music to help pass the time, only a two-way radio offering dispatcher chatter.

One afternoon about three years ago, while killing time until rush hour, Mr. McDonald came upon a man playing Bach on a cello in the Times Square subway station. The sweet song of this cello, the first one he had ever heard, soared above the train rattle and jangle.

"The sound, the feeling, the intensity, the emotion of it," he recalled. "It was like a wave that came over me. I had never felt that before."

Suddenly, he wanted to play the cello.

When he was a child in a Bronx housing project, he had wanted to learn a musical instrument. But the bleats of a trumpeter-in-training would have been too disruptive for the neighbors, his parents had said, so that was that. Later, as a young man, he often listened to classical music on a transistor radio in his bedroom, occasionally recognizing some of the pieces as ones that he had heard in church.

But this cello music.

For nearly a year that subway cellist's music lingered in Mr. McDonald's mind - as he drove, as he ate his salad, as he drove some more. Finally, his passion to learn overcame his fears of being too old. Between one day's rush hours, he went to the New York Public Library and picked a school at random out of the telephone book: The French-American Conservatory of Music at Carnegie Hall.

"They said, 'We'll teach you cello,' " he recalled. "I said, 'I can't play a note, can't read a note.' They told me, 'No problem.' "

Cellos cost several thousand dollars, so Mr. McDonald began renting one for $49 a month, which was on top of the $45 he paid for his weekly hour of instruction. But cost did not matter, he said. "I wanted to play the notes the way I heard them coming off that train."

He spent nearly four months trying to get the sound of bow upon string to evoke sounds that were pleasing to the ear. And when that moment came, when the stroke of his bow summoned sweetness, he thought, wow, this is Hugh McDonald making that sound.

"It was like, 'Oh, I've reached it,' " he recalled. "At least I can make it sound good."

Now, some 18 months later, he can coax recognizable music from the cello, thanks to his commitment to practice. On most days, during his break between rush hours, he parks in a Hoboken bus lot and heads with that black case to the back of his empty bus. He has discovered that if he sets the cello in the aisle, lays out his music on a seat and lifts a couple of arm rests, he has just enough room to play.

On Wednesdays, though, he does not drive to Hoboken. He parks instead on West 54th Street in Midtown and carries his obsession to Carnegie Hall for his weekly session with Biana Cvetkovic, cello instructor.

Ms. Cvetkovic, imbued with the patience of a natural teacher, continues to drill the basics into Mr. McDonald. Keep the back nice and tall, the legs spread apart, the feet flat. Keep the thumbs soft and the fingers nice and round. Relax the right elbow. Keep the bow stroking the cello's powerful place - the highway.

Now listen to the tempo. Tap, tap, tap.

Last Wednesday, Mr. McDonald took his seat in Ms. Cvetkovic's studio and began to summon music from his rented cello. He played haltingly. But the afternoon rush was hours away, and he had the time.

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Yeah, but you have to sign up at the NY times and they latch on to you like a bulldog after that. I've been trying to get rid of their related e-mails for the last two years from a link that was posted here.

That's not my experience. I've been registered with them for at least 3 years and have never gotten an e-mail from them. -Steve

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Yeah, but you have to sign up at the NY times and they latch on to you like a bulldog after that. I've been trying to get rid of their related e-mails for the last two years from a link that was posted here.

Is that who keeps sending me those emails about enlarging my mammaries?

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Good Morning America picked up on the story and had Mr. McDonald on this morning. They gave him tickets to hear YoYo Ma in concert (it would have been nice to set up a lesson for him with YoYo) and, at the end, they gave him his own cello. No more renting.

Let's hear it for all of us "late bloomers" in the string family. I started on violin at 39 (I actually play cello better, but I have a cyst in my wrist that interferes).

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Yes, thanks StringDad for posting the actual story. I never bother 'registering' into any of those sites, just annoys me that they need personal info and account setup to read their stuff.

In another thread we covered the role of orchestras in inspiring people to take up music. Talk about the value of street performers. I myself took up violin after hearing a violinist on the street doing one of Brahms' Hungarian Dances (#17 I think).

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