“I revived the passion I always felt when I started playing again,” she said. Since then, it has been like a second life.
Today Dr. Jiji, who lives with her 93-year-old husband in an Upper East Side townhouse, can be found playing most Fridays with other amateurs and friends in two musical groups, a trio and a string quartet, at the 92nd Street Y. She’s also a part of the Y’s annual musical performance. In 2007 she self-published her first book, “Cello Playing for Music Lovers,” which is sold on Amazon in more than 20 countries. (The following interview has been edited and condensed.)
What made you return to music after all these years?
Brooklyn College gave me companions and socialization with other teachers and students. I felt important socially. When I retired, I lost that. I felt empty and needed to replace that loss and community. I wanted to meet people in the neighborhood.
How did you feel about retiring?
I thought my life was over; it wasn’t. I had to find a different road. I thought about the road I took when I was younger, and the one I didn’t take because I was a wife and a mother of four and had a career. I thought about the road I didn’t travel — one filled with music — and realized I should take that road now. I couldn’t take both at the same time. The one I took became my life. I went back to the fork and took the other road to see where it would take me.
How did you know where to start?
I’m a half a block away from the 92nd Street Y. I walked in and asked about classes; they had a creative music class for people over 60 and told me to just show up. I thought I would have to take a test, but I didn’t. I was at the piano, seated next to an instructor who said, “Let’s see how you play,” when someone walked in carrying a cello. I couldn’t believe it. I asked if I could play it and I fell in love with the instrument instantly.