Sara's Circle: Playing the possible with Martha Baldwin

Sara's Circle: Enjoying the journey

CLEVELAND - Martha Baldwin buys into that whole idea: it's the journey, not the destination.

"It's very frustrating that I will never master the cello. Nor will anybody else. There will always, in my entire life, be ways to play it better," says Baldwin.

"It's fun to go to work 15 years in and think, this week I'm going to play better. This week I can do it better," she says. "I think if you can find that in your life somehow, you'll find there's always a reason to get up and get dressed in the morning."

She started playing at 7, as kid in Calgary, under the master John Kadz. 

"My mother likes to say that I loved the sound of the cello. And I definitely remember asking to play the cello. But I think it was…when I was that age...it was the time of the puffy sleeved dress with the huge skirt, with the ruffles, I think it was sort of my version of a princess fantasy."

She moved to the states to study at Rice University in Houston. Her talent and determination made the Cleveland Institute of Music her grad school stop. And in 2001, an audition came up, to play with the Cleveland Orchestra.

"I just got really lucky," she says. But in truth, she's one of 100 some of the world's most talented musicians, who together, play for a living with the Cleveland Orchestra. 

"It's like you're with all your high school friends, but now you get to travel the world and play concerts," Martha says of the comroderie.

It's physically, sometimes emotionally demanding job. While she's always learning, she's found teaching the next generation of cellists has become her great joy.

"Teaching music. It's old school," she said, "It's you and someone who has been doing it longer than you, in a room together, figuring it out. That's really the only way to learn. I always sort of figured, well, someone taught me. It's my duty to pass that knowledge on."

Her four-year-old daughter Zoe has given her plenty of reasons to enjoy life. Her husband Mika grew up in Cleveland, and travels for his work in graphic design.

"He really loves his work, too, which helps. So he understands that when I'm going to work, it's not like, "uh, I have to go to work," it's important on more than just a paying the bills level," she says.

That level..that's what Martha says everyone should shoot for.

"The most important thing is to find something that you're skilled at and enjoy and if you do something absolutely as well you humanly possibly can, there's an incredible satisfaction that comes from that," said Baldwin. 

Martha wants her daughter to find her own path, likely outside of music. But even young kids can learn from exposure to the orchestra.

There are some free and easy ways to get involved, including the PNC Musical Rainbows. The event introduces children to instruments of the orchestra one by one. Martha and her cello will participate again next spring. You can learn more by clicking here

 


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