The Late Starters Orchestra and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more
  • List Price: $23.95
  • Save: $5.32 (22%)
FREE Shipping on orders over $35.
Only 11 left in stock (more on the way).
Ships from and sold by
Gift-wrap available.
The Late Starters Orchest... has been added to your Cart
+ $3.99 shipping
Used: Very Good | Details
Condition: Used: Very Good
Comment: Book shows a small amount of wear - very good condition. Selection as wide as the Mississippi.
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

The Late Starters Orchestra Hardcover – June 10, 2014

See all 2 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
"Please retry"
"Please retry"
$4.99 $2.86

Pieces of My Mother by Melissa Cistaro
Pieces of My Mother by Melissa Cistaro
Check out the newest book by Melissa Cistaro. Learn more
$18.63 FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Only 11 left in stock (more on the way). Ships from and sold by Gift-wrap available.

Frequently Bought Together

The Late Starters Orchestra + Play It Again: An Amateur Against the Impossible
Price for both: $39.57

Buy the selected items together

Best Books of the Month
Best Books of the Month
Want to know our Editors' picks for the best books of the month? Browse Best Books of the Month, featuring our favorite new books in more than a dozen categories.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Algonquin Books (June 10, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 156512992X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1565129924
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1 x 7.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #124,075 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Goldman led a rich, full life in his late 50s, with family, faith, and career (former New York Times reporter, professor of journalism at Columbia, author of three books, including the best-selling The Search for God at Harvard, 1991). But when he took his cello to his first rehearsal of the New York Late Starters String Orchestra, his “middle-aged musical obsession” blossomed. Despite his bad back (a particular problem for a cellist) and everything going on in his life and the world at large, he determined to become a musician and to play at his sixtieth birthday party. Goldman recounts first taking up the cello at 26 after a chance meeting with Mr. J, who became his beloved teacher, and later introducing his youngest child, Judah, to his instrument and watching the boy’s proficiency grow far beyond his own. Brief sketches of Goldman’s fellow late-starter musicians add interest and make this more than just a memoir about music and all that it offers; it is also a warm and moving testament to the opportunities of aging. --Michele Leber


The Late Starters Orchestra is an anthem for the amateur, and if more people to took up an instrument with Goldman’s level of commitment, our classical music culture would surely improve.” The Washington Post

“Goldman employs a light touch in The Late Starters Orchestra as he regales us with his quest to master the cello . . . He finds a camaraderie and shared spirit that allows him to accept his limitations as a less-than-perfect cellist whose friends and family will love him, no matter how many notes he misses.” The Wall Street Journal

“Not just a story about re-kindling musical passion, but a bigger, richer tale for anyone seeking happiness at any age, at any stage.” American Profile

“I love Ari Goldman’s The Late Starters Orchestra so much that I can almost hear, taste, touch and feel his musical experiences on every single page . . . The Late Starters Orchestra is, simply, a masterpiece.” The BookReporter

The Late Starters Orchestra is a joy to read--moving, funny, and deeply true in its depiction of those aspirations we put aside until, one day, we realize it’s now or never. Ari Goldman’s quest to master the cello is an inspiration for dreamers everywhere.” —Letty Cottin Pogrebin, author of How to Be a Friend to a Friend Who’s Sick

“Goldman’s determination and thoughtfulness in his mature quest are inspiring, and may lead others to take on new challenges, whether playing an instrument, or writing a screenplay, or learning to tango. The book shows that there are many ways to define accomplishment, even if one doesn’t become a star or champion, and may be always the amateur, striving for 'good enough' rather than perfection.” The Jewish Week

“A poignant and witty image of a middle-aged man on the brink of self-renewal . . . It also nicely synthesizes current research on the brain’s plasticity and the value of music and offers a practicable reminder that we get better ‘not by leaps and bounds, but by small, almost imperceptible steps.’ Any reader can welcome its pleasant optimisms.” The Boston Globe

“[A] charming memoir . . . When [Goldman] focuses on the cello itself, and on his personal life and personal mission, the book is absorbing and sweet . . . That sense of rediscovering or reclaiming one’s voice is an essential human endeavor, as the engaging and uplifting saga of Goldman’s progress towards his triumphant birthday concert reminds us.” Bookforum

“With grace, humor, and elegance, Goldman generously invites readers into his tale of picking up that musical thread . . . Through it all, Goldman uncovers the soul of a musician that makes him one with his cello and the music.”—Publishers Weekly“More than just a memoir about music and all that it offers; it is also a warm and moving testament to the opportunities of aging.” Booklist

“We’re all living longer. What should we do with the time? Ari Goldman has a solution. The Late Starters Orchestra is warm, soulful, sometimes rueful, sometimes passionate--just like his beloved cello. I found myself laughing out loud in places--and unexpectedly moved at the end.” —Jonathan Weiner, Pulitzer Prize winning author of The Beak of the Finch

“A lovely, moving story of personal rediscovery disguised as a book about cello-playing. Part memoir, part cultural study, The Late Starters Orchestra is is candid, wise, and inspiring, a book a rich and true as an open ‘A.’” —David Hajdu, author of Positively 4th Street

Customer Reviews

If you are an adult beginner on any stringed instrument, this book will resonate with you!
Nancy Butler
So LSO folks out there, read this book and, if you are like me, you will buy three more copies to give to other LSO's and, also like me, one to your teacher.
leonard H. Abrams
Great and inspirational book on how it is truly possible to follow one's musical dreams despite age.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By takingadayoff TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 24, 2014
Format: Hardcover
I'm enjoying this growing genre of books about middle-aged people taking up a musical instrument, either for the first time or decades after last playing. Guitar Zero: The Science of Becoming Musical at Any Age, A Devil to Play: One Man's Year-Long Quest to Master the Orchestra's Most Difficult Instrument, and Play It Again: An Amateur Against the Impossible are a few I've read and liked.

The Late Starters Orchestra has its author, Ari Goldman, getting reacquainted with the cello in his late fifties. He's determined to learn enough to play a few songs for his friends at his 60th birthday party. It's difficult, with his job as journalism professor at Columbia University and a lively family. But he sticks with it, as his old cello teacher, now dead, continues to inspire with remembered words of encouragement.

Since Goldman lives in Manhattan, he has access to many music groups, including entire orchestras made up of amateurs of all levels of experience. He tries a few of them, as well as several music camps both in New York and in England. His experiences are interesting and amusing, as is the fact that his young son took up cello at age six and quickly passed his father. For a while, Ari and his son were able to play in the same beginner's orchestra.

Goldman's struggle to achieve his self-imposed goal is easy to identify with. He also gives us profiles of many of the adult learners he meets along the way. By the time you finish you have to admit, there's no reason not to tackle learning bassoon or Mandarin or how to fly a plane.
1 Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Gail Cooke HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 13, 2014
Format: Hardcover
In this warm, honest, inspiring memoir Ari L. Goldman (The Search For God At Harvard) shares his life to date, specifically as it concerns his passion - the cello. Albeit this is a passion that has lain fallow for 25 years and is picked up again when the author nears his 60th year.

Now a professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism Goldman is a former New York Times reporter who started playing cello in his mid-twenties. He was fortunate in being under the tutelage of a masterful teacher whom he regarded with great affection and came to call Mr. J. He studied with Mr. J. For seven years, and to this day words of guidance and inspiration from his teacher remain in Goldman's mind.

However, as Goldman's career grew and his family expanded he put aside his cello bowing to life's practical economic demands. Yet as time passed his cello was not forgotten and he determined to play again in order to perform at his 60th birthday party. Of course, he is plagued by doubts but soldiers on by securing a new teacher, joining the Late Starters Orchestra of New York City, giving up the gym in order to have more time to practice, securing a seat on his 11-year-old son's youth orchestra, and more.

Along the way he learned many lessons, such as "If you think you can play, you can." and to be confident, "If you look frightened the audience will only feel bad for you." Also included in this memoir are the stories of other members of the Late Starters Orchestra of NYC, why they returned to their particular instrument and what music means to them.

While this is, of course, a story about music and musicians it is a story for everyone reminding us of the great resiliency of the human brain and all the opportunities available to us as we grow older. Mr. Goldman has given us a gift in this wonderful story of personal rediscovery - I would love to hear him play!


- Gail Cooke
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Bonnie Ferrante on July 3, 2014
Format: Hardcover
The Late Starters Orchestra is a cozy little book suited for all readers interested in music for anyone interested in learning a new skill later in life. Ari L. Goldman, a highly experienced writer, relates his personal experiences with returning to the cello after twenty-five years away.

After retirement many people are concerned about how to keep their brains sharp and their lives interesting. Goldman mentions several ways to reduce our brain age, focusing on the incredible power of music. As well, he examines how introducing a young child to music improves their math abilities and stimulates brain growth in specialized areas. Both the old and the young do better in memory tasks than nonmusicians.

Goldman introduces the reader to various amateur music groups including The Late Starters Orchestra. We follow his journey as he sets a personal goal to play exemplary music on the cello on his 60th birthday. On the way, we're introduced to numerous people whose lives have been dramatically improved by returning to our beginning music at a later stage in life, from Dan who lost his job to Geraldine who totes her double bass seven hours by car to participate in an amateur orchestra. Goldman makes it very clear that learning an instrument, especially a stringed one, is challenging and requires commitment and extensive effort at any age but the benefits are worth it.

Goldman reiterates Malcolm Gladwell's statement that 10,000 hours of practice are required to become expert at anything. (If you haven't read Gladwell's books, check them out. They're fascinating sociology/psychology texts.) Goldman admits that no one his age has 10,000 hours and that's okay. Do what you can, where you can, when you can, and it will still make a difference to the quality of your life.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Most Recent Customer Reviews

More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, read author blogs, and more.

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?

Set up an Amazon Giveaway

Amazon Giveaway allows you to run promotional giveaways in order to create buzz, reward your audience, and attract new followers and customers. Learn more
The Late Starters Orchestra
This item: The Late Starters Orchestra
Price: $18.63
Ships from and sold by