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Gililland Student Surprised by Carl the Cello

Post Date:01/05/2016 2:27 PM


The Gililland Middle School orchestra students recently welcomed a new “student” into their class.

He is deep, strong, and honest, and his name is Carl.

Carl is a cello.

Carl joined Orchestra Teacher Tamara Mason’s class in November 2015. He was donated by a local Tempe family, looking to give back to the community in honor of their mother.

“The mother and daughter recently watched YoYo Ma playing on TV and were so inspired as to donate a cello to a local school for a student to play,” explained Tempe Elementary Fine Arts Coordinator Pat Burdette. “The children in the family had a teacher named Mrs. Gililland growing up, so finding Gililland Middle School sealed the deal.”

The family, who wished to remain anonymous, sent Tempe Elementary School District a check for the cello. They also included a handwritten letter for the student to keep in the case.  

Dear Student,

Hi, nice to meet you. I am your student cello. You must have really “good taste” to want the cello. My name is Carl. Carl the Cello, that’s me! I am deep, strong, and honest. You might be also. I hope so. You can try me and maybe you will do well at this. I need to be played, even if it is boring or hard. The hard work will pay off, you know?

All right then,
Your friend,
Carl the Cello

(Copy of letter pictured below)

With a task to pick the perfect student to receive the cello, Mason chose Masai Lee. As a sixth-grader, Lee has shown high interest in orchestra and the cello, and Mason felt that he would benefit most from it during his next three years at Gililland Middle School.

“When the cello arrived, I couldn’t help but present it to the class. The whole class broke into applause and they knew it was Masai as I was describing the student who would be using the cello,” described Mason. “It was a very tender scene. All the kids came up and oohed and awed as he took Carl out of the case. They were very respectful, and it was a touching memory I'll remember for a long time – one of the best moments in all my years of teaching!”

A huge thank you to the family who donated the funds to purchase a new cello – we cannot wait to see how Masai Lee will flourish in orchestra in the coming years!


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