Six years ago, Linda Milbourn’s family rented her a cello and arranged for her to start taking music lessons with Austin College Professor Ricky Duhaime. Milbourn said the activity that she decided to take up as an empty-nester’s hobby has turned into something that has enhanced her life immensely.


On Monday, Milbourn will be performing with the college’s Chamber Orchestra, a group made up of college students as well as members of the community at 7:30 p.m. at Wynne Chapel.


“I have said many, many, many times that I think my life would have been better if I started the cello earlier,” she said. “It is one of those self-actualization things and I think it very much so has gotten me out of my comfort zone. I am actually a very shy person and since I have gotten involved with this. I have met some lovely people up there at the school. The performances are very difficult for me because I am very retiring. They have added such a dimension of personal growth.”


Milbourn, like many people whose children are on the brink of graduating from high school and college, found herself wanting to take up a new hobby during her daughter’s final year of undergraduate work.


“I was thinking about the cello,” she said. “I have always liked the sound. I would really like to take lessons and learn that. Honestly, I would not have gone on my own steam and done that, but my family gave me for my birthday one year. They rented a cello for me and arranged for me to take lessons up there with Ricky.”


Duhaime not only directs the chamber orchestra, he also directs the Greater Texoma Jazz Ensemble and has often been the musical director for Sherman Community Players productions.


“When I was a kid, everyone took piano lessons,” Milbourn said about her experience in the arts growing up. “As a little girl, I took piano lessons from a lady in the neighborhood, but that was it.”


So when she first picked up the upright stringed instrument, Milbourn admits that she was out of her comfort zone in a good way.


“I am using it to help myself grow,” she said. “I love the environment. Everyone up there is so kind. It is incredibly fun to be involved with it.”


From the performances, Milbourn said audiences will always find surprising and interesting music.


“Give it a try,” she said about trying something new and taking up an art form. “It is so much fun and playing for yourself is great. In my first rehearsal with Ricky, he asked why I wanted to play the cello and I said because I love the way it sounds.”


What is best about the experience for Milbourn is that she gets to think about herself and her own pursuits.


“At this point, I am not going for a grade,” she said. “I won’t be playing at Carnegie Hall. It is just my own personal enjoyment. As a matter of fact, my husband, about a year or so ago, took up viola. He takes lessons up there as well. I am trying to encourage him to start playing with the chamber orchestra. I want to encourage him to give it a try for the same reason. It forces us out of our complacence. I think as long as you keep growing, it is a good thing.”


Future Brown is the Lifestyles and Entertainment Editor for Texoma Marketing and Media Group. She can be reached at SBrown@HeraldDemocrat.com.