Friday, November 02, 2007

Life without fingernails

I once had a guy on a plane spontaneously turn to me and say "You know, if you stopped biting your fingernails your hands would be really pretty." I do not bite my fingernails. I'm a cellist. And I do not recommend that as a pick-up line, in case you were thinking about it. This came back to mind as I was reading an offhand comment about needing to clip nails on Cellomania.

I remember how traumatic it was for girls to give up their fingernails in high school. Many didn't, and were stuck with a finger-slapping lousy-intonation no-vibrato technique. I'd bet they don't play anymore. Even if your technique leans toward using the fleshy part of the low fingertip to get a fat vibrato in lower positions, you need to get further up to play faster, and you can't play in thumb position at all if you're not up on those tips like a ballerina is up on her toes.

Since I started playing violin at age 10 I have had long nails twice. One summer in college, my string bass years, I decided not to practice at all and grew them. I had to cut them off when they got in the way of sailing. Slipping sheets + catching fingernails = ouch. And I grew them for six weeks before my wedding for the photos. That was during a long 15-year +/- stretch where I wasn't playing an instrument, but by then the short fingernails had become a well established habit. By the time I can see a fraction of a millimeter of white my nails feel too long.

My current teacher, T-, keeps nail clippers in his studio. I've seen him hand them to students during lessons with unspoken but specific instructions. My last teacher, T2-, told me once that when she writes her autobiography she has two titles in mind, and one of them was Life Without Fingernails. Yup. I know what she means.


Beth K. Vogt said...

Well, there you have it. I shall never play the cello. I like my (acrylic) nails too, too much. I have told my nail tech (and friend) that I will follow her wherever she goes to make sure I have the nails I should have been born with.

And the guy on the plane? LOSER.

Your wedding? You looked lovely. I know. I was there.

Maricello said...

Ah, this reminds me of when I wanted to take up guitar, but didn't want to develop calluses on my fingertips. They sure don't bother me now.

Anonymous said...

I'm a programmer so I've never had long nails. Ironically I have very strong nails that grow easily, but I don't like the look anyway. I think short nails are sexy.

cellodonna said...

I'm very proud of my short neat "cellist fingernails" and enjoy showing them off, especially to the "acrylic nail ladies" when they begin whining about how they're not happy with their current manicures.

In my opinion long fingernails are ridiculous, impractical and unhealthy, but nail salons keep sprouting up everywhere. I just don't get it.

I'd rather spend my money on a new cake of rosin!

CelloGeek said...

The only time I've had long fingernails was for a short period of time in high school, during a rebellious phase I had with the piano. My teacher hated my nails. I haven't had long fingernails since. They seem to be more of a nuisance than anything else.

Gottagopractice said...

Glad I have friends in both camps, and the one in the middle, too. <g>.