In January this year I recorded a CD. I went with a little team of people to a fabulous studio in the middle of nowhere, and spent three days pouring my soul into some microphones. Some people like this process…. I am not one of those people. I had a lovely team of people with me, and David (the other cellist I was recording with) is a dear friend of mine and I love him dearly. But it was still an unpleasant and draining time for me.

However, this post isn’t about how much I hate recording. I’ve written that before, and don’t need to do it again. This is about what has happened over the last week.

Just before a massive storm hit Sydney (how’s that for timing?!), I was delivered 5 large cardboard boxes by a very friendly courier man.CD arrived



And then the madness began. One afternoon, while listening to various CDs (no – not mine!) I packaged up all the bits and pieces for the people who had pre-ordered CDs (and goodies as rewards for some of them who had given me lots of their money to help with the project). My living room was a bit of a mess, and I got very good at wrangling CD mailers. sending out stuff

The next day I spent emailing people to see if they wanted to listen to a copy. I contacted various people from ABC-FM, music festivals around the country, reviewers from magazines and radio stations… all sorts of people. This wasn’t new – I’d done it all before with the last CD I had released. But this time, instead of silence, I got emails back! It seems people are interested this time. I’m not sure whether it’s because they know David Pereira’s name. Or maybe they’ve heard mine, or the concert series. Some people were interested in the amount of Australian music that’s on the disc, and the fact that there are two pieces on there that have never been recorded. Maybe because we got funding from the Australia Council?

I don’t know. And don’t really care. Getting it to people is a hard thing. It’s taken a lot of time sitting at a computer. But now lots of CDs have gone out into the world – released like little butterflies.

So if you are reading this, and have your own copy – thank you. Thanks for helping us. Thanks for helping me. I hope you like our playing. We did our best…..

And if you don’t like it? Well…. you now have a bright yellow drinks coaster. Or a bird-scarer for your trees. Or a small, breakable frisbee.

I know I’m a musician. I know I am more sensitive to noise. But just lately, I feel a bit like I’m being assaulted by it.

Here’s what I don’t get….

Why do people HAVE to talk on their phones on the train? They aren’t that important (if you are, get a limo to travel). Most of the time, they have to repeat themselves because they are just going through a tunnel. And I don’t want to hear their conversation. Neither does anyone else in the carriage. Are their lives really SO VERY BUSY that they have to make a call on a train?

Why do people have their car stereos up so loudly that I can hear them in another car, when all the windows are up in both cars?

Why do people open sweets/ chip packets/ insert-other-wrapped-item here at the movies while the film is playing? Why don’t they do it at the start when no-one is listening to the ads? Do they think it’s quiet? Can they hear the amount of noise they are making?

Why do people play videos of things on their phones in public places (ok – I’m back on the train thing here) without headphones on? I don’t want to hear it. I don’t care about Masterchef/ The Kardashians/ your small child talking to someone last night in the kitchen.

Has everyone just stopped listening to noise around them? If so, how do you do that? Could someone let me know? Or is everyone going deaf?

I will turn around and walk out of shops if the music in them is too loud. I can’t bear it.

Am I just becoming a grumpy old woman here? Or do all musicians have this problem?

And what’s wrong with a bit of silence, actually? Are people afraid of it?

I do two things in my working life. I play the cello (which sometimes involves playing concerts, or teaching others, or coaching groups), and I run music programs (I happen to be pretty good at this). I used to run music programs for a number of organisations, but now I just work for one charity that puts music programs into schools that wouldn’t normally get them. Over the years, I’ve been in a number of schools – some country, some city- all over the place, actually.

I’ve just come back from visiting one country school I go to regularly. I love it out there. I always have a really good time out there. The staff are really supportive. They are really keen to learn to teach music better. The kids are really keen to learn. I know anyone reading this would think, ‘Yeah right. There’s always one or two that don’t want to be there and slump at the back’, but actually, it isn’t the case.  These kids really do want to learn music stuff, or new songs, or new percussion pieces, or drum patterns….. It’s an excellent situation, I think.

It’s great to be at the helm. It makes me really proud. Tired after a visit – but proud.

On the plane, coming home, I was reflecting on all my teaching. And thinking about how important music is for kids. (I don’t understand why it isn’t seen as important at maths, or literacy – but that’s for another day….) I used to be at another school, but the music program got taken for granted. Things went bad. I left. Was it my fault it got like that? I don’t think so. I think the person at the top decided that they didn’t want something like that at the school. It breaks my heart when I hear stories about what’s going on there, because I still hear a few things from time to time. It was a fabulous music program – and now its not really.

And then I realised that these programs are a little bit like allowing children to grow up as a parent. You do your best – and then you have to walk away. They may keep going as you envisaged (like the ones I’ve set up in Timor), and be really successful. There may be teachers who really take on board what I’m offering, and keep teaching it, and adapt it, and make it better. And then there are others that don’t keep going, musically. And I can’t do anything about that.


It’s been a really crazy year for me. I’ve done so much, and had to turn into a bit of a Duracell bunny – you know that hideous pink thing that just kept going and going and going andgoingandgoingandgoing…..?

I am my own worst enemy – I take on all sorts of things, and then try to make it all perfect. So not only does a concert involve the actual practise and playing, but I’m doing the set-up, the ticketing, dealing with arrangers and composers, the bump-down… you get the picture. It’s all too much. (That’s just the concert part. Let alone the music programs, or the resource creating….)

And if one thing fell out of place, things started to get a bit hairy. There were too many teary nights, as I felt totally overwhelmed. Too many mornings up far too early to fit everything in. Not enough time with friends.

I work for the Australian Children’s Music Foundation (ACMF) – a charity that gives music to children that are disadvantaged in some way. I have worked for the ACMF for over 13 years, and believe in music education, and the work it does with every fibre of my being. And after working for four days for the charity, and then having three days to run my performing career, I’ve just made the swap to be the other way around (well, there goes my OAM. Slacking off now!).

And today is my first Thursday that I am being Rachel-the-cellist, rather than Rachel-the-educator-I’ll-leave-it-all-to-Friday. It’s been a good day. I’ve got loads done. I’ve done the washing. I’ve gone to a yoga class, taught by an excellent teacher.

It’s a drop in pay. But sometimes, I’m not sure that having lots of money is the best reason to work too hard. The way I was going, I would have had some kind of breakdown. And now I can be a cellist more, and I like that.

So what am I going to do? I think the sixth suite beckons. I’ve never learned it properly. And I have a season of ‘Orange is the New Black’ to watch. And the garden needs some care. I might even start cooking again….

I have a lot of concerts coming up.

I’m not complaining – just stating a fact. I have to have a lot of notes in my head and under my fingers. I start nearly every morning, sitting at the cello, playing before the sun comes up. And I have sometimes less than an hour to practise as efficiently as I can.

Sometimes I have longer, but most days I feel like I have to be so very clever with what I’m doing and waste no time at all. Not one drop of it.

And right now things are really busy. I’m struggling to get everything done. I have been let down by a few people, and it leaves a really nasty taste in my mouth. And the last thing I want to do is sit at the bloody cello. I want to sleep, or dig in the garden, or drink tea, or do some yoga or do a hundred OTHER things.

And yet I do it. I put bow to string and work.

When you next go up to a musician and say ‘It must be so lovely to do something that you love…’, or look at them in a concert, remember this post (if anyone reads these things!). Remember that just as you don’t want to do things, so do we.

And often, it’s practising.

I don’t love it all the time. A lot of the time, yes. But not every day.