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The first time I met my cello teacher, Janet Marshall, was in fifth grade. I had just moved from Waukesha, and I needed to find a new teacher near my house. My mom and I weren’t having luck in our search. There wasn’t anyone I got along with. But as soon as I stepped over the welcome mat into the Marshall’s doorway, all my worries went away. I was instantly greeted by a petite older woman and her husband, who welcomed me with an offer of cookies.
Mrs. Marshall not only teaches me how to improve my technique, but she also unknowingly and generously gives me traits to help make me a better person; I have become more patient, a better cellist, and a respectful young adult because of her.
There are about a dozen students she has to keep track of, and sometimes she can’t remember what she says to each one. But, I enjoy listening to repeat stories about former students that have made it big or maybe even made a mistake. She wants to make sure I don’t make the same mistakes, and I know of the opportunities I have available. She provides scholarship auditions in the area, local concerts, and summer camps she knows that will improve my playing. We get on track to our lesson plan after talking, and I wait for as she goes into the kitchen to grab some water or cookies, catering to me so I feel at home.
The first couple of lessons I had, we only talked. I never even picked up my cello. She told me stories about previous students, her own life, special performances, and described the piece I was going to be playing in words. But, once I played, my mom could tell there was an instant improvement in my sound.
She may be the same age as my grandparents, but she has the blood of a rock star cellist. I heard her play a couple lessons later. She picked up her cello, and played like she had all the power in the world, guiding her bow into the string. She created a full, monstrous sound that would be incredible, even to stuck-up music critics. Ever since then, she has given me the dream to be just like her.

Janet Marshall has been a grandma, a mentor, and a friend to me. Her nurturing quality makes me feel comfortable. The soft voice she uses shows me she cares, and her cello teaching skills are unstoppable. She is one of the most interesting, warm, and generous people I have ever known. She has touched the lives of everyone who has ever met her. Especially me.





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