UCR Musicians #1: Hannah Davita Ludikhuijze

My name is Hannah Davita Ludikhuijze, and I play the cello.

  1. What is your earliest music-related memory?

Music was always very central in the house where I was growing up, it was always playing in the background. Music was and is very much my idea of home. Apparently, when I was just learning to walk, there were certain types of music that I was better able to walk to. Mozart was too fast…my parents found that to be very interesting. It is quite funny, as I wouldn’t consider myself so musical, but I did need music to walk.

  1. How did you end up choosing your instrument(s)?

Actually, I played the piano before. I started around the age of five or six and it offered me a rounded education – I still have all the basics in the back of my mind. I quit when I was sixteen, but a year later, I realized how much I missed learning and playing music. I had always been interested in the cello – it’s so big, and the sound is so grand! It’s not something you can put under the carpet – it’s a warm instrument, it really calls for the entire body to play. For me the piano was just keys, but the cello was something I could really embody. And so, I called the music school and said, I want to take some cello classes. And I did.

  1. Could you see yourself playing any other instrument?

Of course, I can still see myself play the piano, but only rarely. Sometimes I think, maybe I’ll play the violin. But it’s so sharp, and I’m not very sharp.

The cello is an instrument that fits me very well, it calls for a different kind of perfectionism. It’s something that I don’t have to think about so much. Although playing the cello is difficult, and I can’t do it very well, it makes me happy. Just seeing my cello, hearing other people playing the cello – it gives me a very unique sort of calm. I think I like listening to the cello almost more than I like playing it.

  1. What is it that you would like to achieve through playing music?

In music, I really seek a way to express myself, and my emotions. But not emotions that are on the surface, something deeper than that, something inaccessible without an instrument. For me, I see the cello as a way to reach a deeper level, to get to the core of things. It’s a way of fulfillment, too. Being alone in a room, with your instrument, and knowing that all it takes is some focus and concentration to produce something that satisfies. No matter the skill, or the piece, it can make you happy. It stands on its own. I don’t see myself playing professionally, but I would like to play more with other people. Connect to others through music, in that way.

  1. What would be your ideal music-playing scenario?

I hope that one day, if I do have children, they will find the same satisfaction as I sometimes do when playing music. That they will like playing music too. Maybe not at the beginning, but that they would come to like it. That there would be this sort of musical appreciation and community in our home. I would love to play together, as a family.

It reminds me of one of my early memories. With my brothers, and sometimes parents too, we would play together on the piano. Our neighbors would have to suffer through our scales and exercises all year, and my parents would invite them over for a New Year’s recital. We would dress up, and decorate the house, and play our very basic pieces. It was a compensation for our neighbors, of sorts.

  1. When you are not playing music yourself, what is your favorite music to listen to?

I mostly listen to classical music. I also really appreciate some different types of music, I love listening to Nick Cave, Simon and Garfunkel…it really depends on the mood. For me, listening to music is a mirror, it has the ability to reflect the way that I am feeling. I also value that it is a way of being able to look beyond your current circumstances. It’s not pragmatic, or everyday. It’s something completely different.

My parents always said that if you play an instrument, you get a greater appreciation for music. Now, I think I understand that. As a cellist, I can sometimes hear the movements that are made with the bow. I can hear when they play round, or not round, it becomes something visual in my mind. It’s a kind of wave movement that I find very beautiful and calming. I’ve come to learn what types of music best fit what moods. But no matter what mood – and I know this sounds cliché – I will always return to the cello suites by Bach. Played by Mischa Maisky, not Yo Yo Ma, although he is a great talent.

  1. How would you explain the act of playing music to someone who is a stranger to it?

You take a bow; you put it on the cello. You relax – that’s very important – and you play.

  1. What is your memorable music-related anecdote?

I remember my first cello class, cycling there…I was going back with my cello, afterwards, and I was so proud and excited, with my rented cello on my back. And I played in our house, for my parents, and it was so strange hearing this new sound in our home, one that had never been there before. My parents even took photos…looking back, I see now that I was doing everything wrong. But it was such a nice feeling.

  1. What is the most interesting thing, unrelated to music, that you have learned through playing an instrument?

That if you are sad, you can still play happy pieces. You simply play for a different reason. I learned that you sometimes have to look beyond the moment; you can play music without being in the moment. If you have played the cello for three years, that knowledge is all there. You have to trust that you can retrieve that, even if you do not think or feel like it is all there. And often those are the nicest moments.

  1. What are you working on now?

I’m now playing the Libertango by Astor Piazzolla, which is a surprise for my friend in Brazil. When I was in Brazil, I found music a great way to get to know this very rich culture. My friend and I, who is very passionate about music, would discuss this at length. I’ve finally gotten my courage up to actually play it myself. I would love to be able to play the two of us together, either in person or by Skype, with him on the classical guitar and me on the cello. I think that would make for a very good moment.

  1. If music were not a part of your life, what substitute could see yourself taking up in its place?

Ballet. Ballet was a part of my life, but now it isn’t anymore, not really. But I feel the same logic and movement, the same embodiment, with dancing ballet as I do with the cello. It’s a means of expression. How else could you transport your emotions – it gives you an opportunity to regulate your emotions, to process them. I think there is something crucial in being able to work through your emotions at different times, and in different formats.

Noga Amiri, Class of 2018, is a literature and art history major from Hilversum, the Netherlands.

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