Friday, November 8, 2013

The Piano Guys Made My Daughter Cry and It. Was. Magical.

Shortly after Cyra started taking violin lessons last year (her school offers a Strings Alive program so for a nominal $10 fee she gets weekly lessons and a violin to borrow) she was searching for violin videos on YouTube and she discovered The Piano Guys. If you have never heard of them, please stop reading right now and go check out a couple of their videos. This one is Cyra’s favorite or this one or maybe this one…heck pretty much any and all of their videos could qualify as her favorite! It just depends on her mood that day. Anyway, go click some links, I’ll be here when you get back.

We good? Did you check them out? Amazing, right?

Anyway, for months Cyra would watch theses videos daily. She began to talk about learning to play the cello.

“I bet I could learn cello easily now that I know violin,” she’d tell us.

She talked about cello so much it broke my heart because at the time I was still unemployed and we couldn’t afford lessons much less a $600+ beginner’s cello. Nonstop all through the winter, through the holidays, and well into spring we heard about cellos and The Piano Guys.

In early spring, The Piano Guys announced their upcoming US tour and Cyra nearly jumped out of her skin when she saw that they would be playing the Florida Theater in Jacksonville, a mere 40 minutes away. Still unemployed, I told Cyra that we really couldn’t afford the tickets, but really, I knew that I would save every penny I could to get her there even if it meant doing without Internet, power, or skimping on groceries for a few weeks.

But with gainful employment comes financial wiggle room and after I’d gotten a few paychecks into the bank, I told Scott I was buying tickets. That was in May. Coincidentally, the scheduled stop in Jacksonville fell just a few days before Cyra’s birthday.

Perfect timing. She’d be thrilled with her birthday gift.

All that spring and summer Cyra talked about cello lessons. And the more she talked the more Scott and I really started playing with the budget to see if it was possible. I priced cellos online, I looked around town for a music store that offered cello lessons.

This wasn’t a passing fancy for her. Cello was her dream.

When school started in August, her music teacher told Cyra that she might not have returning students join the Strings Alive program. Cyra came home devastated. Violin, you see, was her gateway to cello. She knew that if she couldn’t take cello lessons then at least she would still get the practice with a string instrument.

That same day, I emailed the one store in town that offered cello lessons. A few phone calls later, Cyra had a meeting with the instructor, an older gentleman whose preferred instrument was the cello. He was thrilled that such a young girl would be interested in cello.

When we went to meet him, he measured her to see what size cello she would need and watching her touch and hold a cello for the first time cinched the deal for me. Her smile just about engulfed her face and she couldn’t stop trembling.

“If I made a down payment, would you be able to let me make payments?” I asked the instructor softly as I stared at Cyra pulling the bow across the strings.

“Absolutely,” he said.

“Done. Let’s do it,” I said.

Cyra looked up at me, tears welling in her eyes. “Really?”

I nodded. “For really.”

I came home with a cello that barely fit in my car, weekly lessons that worked with my work schedule, and a little girl in complete shock.

(And now I do something that I don't often do: post photos of the girls. But today I feel it is important for the story.)

Cyra and her cello, first day home. Possessive doesn't even cover it.

First time practicing before lessons had even started. By the end of the first evening home, she had a reasonable sounding Twinkle Twinkle going. All that violin work really helped!

Let’s return the The Piano Guys.

Around the end of September, Cyra once again asked me if we could go to the concert. I looked her dead in the eye and I lied to my child. Lied through my teeth knowing that what I was about to tell her would sadden her.

“I’m so sorry sweetie,” I said softly, “With Ashleigh’s wisdom teeth and buying the cello…we just don’t have the money for it.”

Her face fell a little, “I understand, Mommy. It’s okay.”

And not another word was mentioned. Until yesterday.

Yesterday, the day of the concert, Cyra came home, scuffing her feet, frowning, and irritated.

“What’s wrong sweetheart?” I asked as she sat on my lap and wrapped her arms around me.

“I had a rough day, Mom,” she sighed.

I nodded sympathetically as she told me about her day. “Sounds like you could use something to cheer you up.”

She nodded. “Maybe a nap too.”

I laughed, “You’re that tired?”

Another nod.

“Well, maybe this will help.” I grabbed the envelope that held the tickets for over 6 months.

She raised her eyebrow at me.

“Open it up.”

She pulled out the printed tickets and scanned over it without really seeing it.

I pointed to the top, a small gray rectangle with the concert information. "Read in here,” I told her.

She read.

She looked at me.

She read it again.

“Mommy, I think you better cover your ears because I am about to squee like I have never squeed before.”

She jumped off my lap, jumped around the living, the walls echoing her squees of joy.

At the Florida Theater, after buying $70+ of merchandise, including a book of sheet music, Cyra, Ashleigh, and I sat quietly as the house lights fell dark. Cyra took a deep, calming breath as The Piano Guys walked onto the stage.

It. Was. Magical.

The first three songs, Cyra cried. Tears of happiness and joy streamed down her face and her quiet snuffles made me wish I had brought some tissues. Ashleigh and I couldn’t stop smiling.

These guys put on a great show! Aside from the music, which is phenomenal, they were personable, humorous, and humble. Sprinkled throughout the show the guys talked about their background together and the piano player, Jon Schmidt kept telling the audience that Steven Sharpe Nelson was the number one cellist in the world. And while I absolutely loved the show, the best part was watching Cyra’s reactions: amazement, admiration, hero worship.

Afterward, I told Cyra we could hang out in the lobby to see if they’d come out for autographs. She about fell over.

We waited in the lobby for a good 45 minutes. After most of the crowd cleared out and there were only about 30 people left in the lobby, the security guys had us line up.

And then, there they were. Cyra, who had been containing her excitement as best she could earlier, broke into a jittery dance and tears welled up again. As the line moved forward, Ashleigh and I tried to keep her calm.

“Can’t blame her,” Ashleigh said, “I would totally be fangirling as hard if I was meeting someone I really liked,”

Then it was her turn. And surprisingly she stayed put together.

“You’re going to need the table,” she told them as she handed over her items for signing.

The guys were gracious, polite, and asked her all sorts of questions.

“Do you play an instrument?” Jon, the piano player, asked.

“Yes,” she replied, “The cello.”

“You are my favorite person so far tonight,” Steven, the cellist, replied. Apparently, everyone they had met had claimed the piano as the instrument of choice. “How long have you been playing.”

“I just started this year,” she paused. “Because of you.”

“Wow. That’s fantastic!”

I swear he was flabbergasted.

“Did you name your cello?” he asked.

She nodded.

“Did you name it Steve?” Jon Schmidt asked.

“No, Agent Romanoff.”

“Whoa. That’s a serious name.” The guys laughed.

Cyra nodded.

“When I grow up,” Cyra said shyly, “I’m going to be right up there with you,” she looked at Steven, “I’ll be the second best cellist.”

Steven looked down at her with a smile, “No. You be the number one cellist. I’ll be second.”

Oh. My. Heart. It pretty much exploded.

Pictures all around and then our turn was over and once again Cyra could not keep the joy contained and she burst into tears again. She was floating as we walked back to the car.

“Best day?” I asked her.

“Best. Day. Ever,” she said through her tears.

From left to right: Al Van Der Beek, Steven Sharp Nelson, Cyra, Jon Schmidt, Paul Anderson


  1. And my heart exploded just reading your words!!! That is such a fabulous story1 Keep on playing, Cyra! Follow your dreams. (And good for you, Mama.)

  2. Good grief, I'm crying, too. What a wonderful, fabulous experience for all of you.

  3. How wonderful. I love The Piano Guys. I bought their CD for my hubby last Christmas but it wasn't until I showed him their You Tube clips (Cello Wars and Mission Impossible) that he could relate to them. My grandson also loves them after I showed him. What a lovely present for your daughter. I hope she continues to play and enjoys their music and her music.

  4. Oh my god that is so sweet! I rolled a tear when I read his response of, "no, you be the number one..." What a fantastic story. Thank you for sharing it.
    On a less sentimental note, a BEGINNERS cello costs how much? More than my first car (not as much as the repairs to that first car, but still). No wonder there are so many singing competition shows and not sting-instrument competition shows.

  5. So glad you were able to experience this with your daughter. She'll remember that evening forever!

  6. Man! This post was so beautiful that I cried like a little baby!! How exciting for her to have a hobby that she truly loves!!