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The Late Starters Orchestra [Kindle Edition]

Ari L. Goldman
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

In a cluttered room in an abandoned coat factory in lower Manhattan, a group of musicians comes together each week to make music. Some are old, some are young, all have come late to music or come back to it after a long absence. This is the Late Starters Orchestra--the bona fide amateur string orchestra where Ari Goldman pursues his lifelong dream of playing the cello.

Goldman hadn’t seriously picked up his cello in twenty-five years, but the Late Starters (its motto, If you think you can play, you can) seemed just the right orchestra for this music lover whose busy life had always gotten in the way of its pursuit.

In The Late Starters Orchestra, Goldman takes us along to LSO rehearsals and lets us sit in on his son’s Suzuki lessons, where we find out that children do indeed learn differently from adults. He explores history’s greatest cellists and also attempts to understand what motivates his fellow late starters, amateurs all, whose quest is for joy, not greatness. And when Goldman commits to playing at his upcoming birthday party we wonder with him whether he’ll be good enough to perform in public. To the rescue comes the ghost of Goldman’s first cello teacher, the wise and eccentric Mr. J, who continues to inspire and guide him--about music and more--through this well-tuned journey.

With enchanting illustrations by Eric Hanson, The Late Starters Orchestra is about teachers and students, fathers and sons, courage and creativity, individual perseverance and the power of community. And Ari Goldman has a message for anyone who has ever had a dream deferred: it’s never too late to find happiness on one’s own terms.



Product Description

Review

More than just a memoir about music and all that it offers; it is also a warm and moving testament to the opportunities of aging. Booklist The Late Starters Orchestra is a joy to read--moving, funny, and deeply true in its depiction of those aspirations we put aside until, one day, we realize it s now or never. Ari Goldman s quest to master the cello is an inspiration for dreamers everywhere. Letty Cottin Pogrebin, author of How to Be a Friend to a Friend Who s Sick We re all living longer. What should we do with the time? Ari Goldman has a solution. The Late Starters Orchestra is warm, soulful, sometimes rueful, sometimes passionate--just like his beloved cello. I found myself laughing out loud in places ad unexpectedly moved at the end. Jonathan Weiner, Pulitzer Prize winning author of The Beak of the Finch A lovely, moving story of personal rediscovery disguised as a book about cello-playing. Part memoir, part cultural study, The Late Starters Orchestra is is candid, wise, and inspiring, a book a rich and true as an open A. David Hajdu, music critic for TheNew Republic I've long believed that there is a musician hiding in each one of us. Ari Goldman's new book, The Late Starters Orchestra, gives us back our natural right to make music. Goldman's adventure of becoming a cellist is filled with trials, perseverance, humor, and wonderful anecdotes. It's an inspiration! Julia Wolfe, co-founder of Bang on a Can. A poignant and loving meditation on teachers and students, fathers and sons, and the great resilience and capacity of the human brain. Joshua Henkin, author of The World Without You --Various

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1738 KB
  • Print Length: 305 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 156512992X
  • Publisher: Algonquin Books (10 Jun. 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00FZWN4LA
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #667,553 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A WARM, INSPIRING MEMOIR 14 Jun. 2014
By Gail Cooke TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
In this warm, honest, inspiring memoir Ari L. Goldman (The Search For God At Harvard) shares his life to date, specifically as it concerns his passion - the cello. Albeit this is a passion that has lain fallow for 25 years and is picked up again when the author nears his 60th year.

Now a professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism Goldman is a former New York Times reporter who started playing cello in his mid-twenties. He was fortunate in being under the tutelage of a masterful teacher whom he regarded with great affection and came to call Mr. J. He studied with Mr. J. For seven years, and to this day words of guidance and inspiration from his teacher remain in Goldman's mind.

However, as Goldman's career grew and his family expanded he put aside his cello bowing to life's practical economic demands. Yet as time passed his cello was not forgotten and he determined to play again in order to perform at his 60th birthday party. Of course, he is plagued by doubts but soldiers on by securing a new teacher, joining the Late Starters Orchestra of New York City, giving up the gym in order to have more time to practice, securing a seat on his 11-year-old son's youth orchestra, and more.

Along the way he learned many lessons, such as "If you think you can play, you can." and to be confident, "If you look frightened the audience will only feel bad for you." Also included in this memoir are the stories of other members of the Late Starters Orchestra of NYC, why they returned to their particular instrument and what music means to them.

While this is, of course, a story about music and musicians it is a story for everyone reminding us of the great resiliency of the human brain and all the opportunities available to us as we grow older. Mr. Goldman has given us a gift in this wonderful story of personal rediscovery - I would love to hear him play!

Enjoy!

- Gail Cooke
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Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  32 reviews
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cello Shots 24 May 2014
By takingadayoff - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I'm enjoying this growing genre of books about middle-aged people taking up a musical instrument, either for the first time or decades after last playing. Guitar Zero: The Science of Becoming Musical at Any Age, A Devil to Play: One Man's Year-Long Quest to Master the Orchestra's Most Difficult Instrument, and Play It Again: An Amateur Against the Impossible are a few I've read and liked.

The Late Starters Orchestra has its author, Ari Goldman, getting reacquainted with the cello in his late fifties. He's determined to learn enough to play a few songs for his friends at his 60th birthday party. It's difficult, with his job as journalism professor at Columbia University and a lively family. But he sticks with it, as his old cello teacher, now dead, continues to inspire with remembered words of encouragement.

Since Goldman lives in Manhattan, he has access to many music groups, including entire orchestras made up of amateurs of all levels of experience. He tries a few of them, as well as several music camps both in New York and in England. His experiences are interesting and amusing, as is the fact that his young son took up cello at age six and quickly passed his father. For a while, Ari and his son were able to play in the same beginner's orchestra.

Goldman's struggle to achieve his self-imposed goal is easy to identify with. He also gives us profiles of many of the adult learners he meets along the way. By the time you finish you have to admit, there's no reason not to tackle learning bassoon or Mandarin or how to fly a plane.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A WARM, INSPIRING MEMOIR 13 Jun. 2014
By Gail Cooke - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
In this warm, honest, inspiring memoir Ari L. Goldman (The Search For God At Harvard) shares his life to date, specifically as it concerns his passion - the cello. Albeit this is a passion that has lain fallow for 25 years and is picked up again when the author nears his 60th year.

Now a professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism Goldman is a former New York Times reporter who started playing cello in his mid-twenties. He was fortunate in being under the tutelage of a masterful teacher whom he regarded with great affection and came to call Mr. J. He studied with Mr. J. For seven years, and to this day words of guidance and inspiration from his teacher remain in Goldman's mind.

However, as Goldman's career grew and his family expanded he put aside his cello bowing to life's practical economic demands. Yet as time passed his cello was not forgotten and he determined to play again in order to perform at his 60th birthday party. Of course, he is plagued by doubts but soldiers on by securing a new teacher, joining the Late Starters Orchestra of New York City, giving up the gym in order to have more time to practice, securing a seat on his 11-year-old son's youth orchestra, and more.

Along the way he learned many lessons, such as "If you think you can play, you can." and to be confident, "If you look frightened the audience will only feel bad for you." Also included in this memoir are the stories of other members of the Late Starters Orchestra of NYC, why they returned to their particular instrument and what music means to them.

While this is, of course, a story about music and musicians it is a story for everyone reminding us of the great resiliency of the human brain and all the opportunities available to us as we grow older. Mr. Goldman has given us a gift in this wonderful story of personal rediscovery - I would love to hear him play!

Enjoy!

- Gail Cooke
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Both the old and the young do better in memory tasks than nonmusicians 3 July 2014
By Bonnie Ferrante - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
The Late Starters Orchestra is a cozy little book suited for all readers interested in music for anyone interested in learning a new skill later in life. Ari L. Goldman, a highly experienced writer, relates his personal experiences with returning to the cello after twenty-five years away.

After retirement many people are concerned about how to keep their brains sharp and their lives interesting. Goldman mentions several ways to reduce our brain age, focusing on the incredible power of music. As well, he examines how introducing a young child to music improves their math abilities and stimulates brain growth in specialized areas. Both the old and the young do better in memory tasks than nonmusicians.

Goldman introduces the reader to various amateur music groups including The Late Starters Orchestra. We follow his journey as he sets a personal goal to play exemplary music on the cello on his 60th birthday. On the way, we're introduced to numerous people whose lives have been dramatically improved by returning to our beginning music at a later stage in life, from Dan who lost his job to Geraldine who totes her double bass seven hours by car to participate in an amateur orchestra. Goldman makes it very clear that learning an instrument, especially a stringed one, is challenging and requires commitment and extensive effort at any age but the benefits are worth it.

Goldman reiterates Malcolm Gladwell's statement that 10,000 hours of practice are required to become expert at anything. (If you haven't read Gladwell's books, check them out. They're fascinating sociology/psychology texts.) Goldman admits that no one his age has 10,000 hours and that's okay. Do what you can, where you can, when you can, and it will still make a difference to the quality of your life.

There are some fascinating facts about the difference between a violin and cello, the history of the cello, and its abilities. I did find the book slow going at times. I think he could've gone into more depth about some of the other late starters he included. But generally, it was a comfortable, enjoyable read.

I received a free copy of this book for review from Algonquin Books.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE LATE STARTERS ORCHESTRA is, simply, a masterpiece. Finish practicing, then go and read it. 23 Jun. 2014
By Bookreporter - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
First things first: I love Ari Goldman’s THE LATE STARTERS ORCHESTRA so much that I can almost hear, taste, touch and feel his musical experiences on every single page. I needed to get that out there right away because I’m about to detour into another book on my way back to the LSO. Normally, this is just not done. One should avoid confusing readers --- or, worse still, insulting authors --- by launching into comparative reviewing, but there are exceptions to every rule, and my musician’s gut tells me this is one of them.

Back in 1980, when I was still immersed in grad school, some music education majors in a motley campus orchestra where I played flute were raving about a fantastic new book published the year before. Actually, they were complaining because the library had only one wait-listed copy of John Holt’s NEVER TOO LATE: My Musical Life Story (1979), and the university bookstore was sold out.

When I finally got my hands on a borrowed copy, I read it from beginning to end in a couple of sittings; it was that good. Holt became a cultural hero to me, not only because he was a pioneering force in the North American home-schooling movement, but because he dared to do something almost unheard of back then. Against all scientific and pedagogical odds, he took up the cello at age 40 and became really good at it.

Among the most quoted and cherished words from NEVER TOO LATE are these: "If I could learn to play the cello well…I could show by my own example that we all have greater powers than we think; that whatever we want to learn or learn to do, we probably can learn; that our lives and our possibilities are not determined and fixed by what happened to us when we were little, or by what experts say we can or cannot do."

John Holt died at the young age of 62 in 1985, but his legacy has permeated the baby-boomer generation that succeeded him --- that diverse, defiant and driven demographic that Goldman and I proudly share.

And in a nutshell, his words could be the mantra of THE LATE STARTERS ORCHESTRA, even though Goldman never directly mentions Holt’s ground-breaking work. But he didn’t have to. Many of the people and organizations encountered on this fascinating and sometimes bumpy journey toward musical “competence” (Goldman’s preferred term) are subtly or consciously adherents of Holt’s profound belief in the power of the mature adult brain, fuelled by the passion of the mature adult heart.

Thanks to recent advances in neuroscience, especially the potential of neuroplasticity in reimagining learning, today we know that children and adults are “wired” differently. But living that knowledge, putting it to the test day in and day out, is something else entirely. And it’s not for the faint-hearted.

Goldman, a former New York Times reporter and now “old school” journalism professor, as well as the parent of a very accomplished cello-playing son, captures the humbling and sublime moments of his musical quest with eloquence, insight, and just the right seasoning of humor.

Drawing on his exemplary reporting skills, he persistently asked questions, probing the minds and hearts of other late-beginning musicians, their teachers, their friends, their families --- and, most importantly, himself. Some questions like, “Why do we late-starters practice and practice only to achieve mere ‘competence?’” generate such diverse responses that they may as well be unanswerable. Yet some of the most powerful encounters between music and language are reflected in Goldman’s remembered conversations with his late teacher, the noted American cellist Heinrich Joachim.

The bond between them continued long after Joachim’s death; somehow the old master’s voice would penetrate those depths of frustration we all feel when our progress stalls and everyone else seems to have the talent we lack. If only every student had a Heinrich Joachim keeping loving vigilance over their musical welfare!

The real-life orchestra from which Goldman’s memoir takes its name, the New York Late-Starters String Orchestra ([...]) is an intergenerational ensemble founded in 2007 by and for amateurs. Its membership includes players who gave up their instruments decades ago when “life” got in the way, those who always yearned to play but deferred their dreams until middle age or later, or those who accidentally discovered a passion for making music rather than simply consuming it.

For Goldman, the LSO became a pivotal connection that both supported and extended his musical growth. He describes the excitement and insecurity of travelling further afield to experience the original East London Late Starters Orchestra in England, the intensity of summer music camp in a remote New England resort town, and the climactic achievement of playing an informal recital at his own 60th birthday party. At each stage of the journey, there are moments of revelation, affirmation and utter surprise that this tenuous entity, this thing of becoming a real musician, is his to claim.

At about the same time as Goldman embarked on reclaiming his love for the cello, I took up the bass viola da gamba (a fretted six-stringed cousin of the cello that was all the rage in the 1700s). Now, when I play in our small amateur community baroque ensemble, I not only hear the encouraging words of John Holt, I also feel the powerful presence of Goldman and his magnificent tribute to middle-aged (and beyond) musicians everywhere.

THE LATE STARTERS ORCHESTRA is, simply, a masterpiece. Finish practicing, then go and read it.

Reviewed by Pauline Finch.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous book 27 July 2014
By Linda G. Salisbury - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
As a late-starter violist (who has played cello since age 8), I loved the book! Goldman's passion for his instrument (a cello named Bill) and playing fear of auditions (that would be many of us non-conservatory types), information on the cello in general, and retelling of the stories of other late starters makes a wonderful read. And I particularly enjoyed the mother-son musical twist at the end. I can't get enough of playing music, and the book made me smile and go practice.
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