Cally Bartlett was about eight years old when she picked up her first cello.
The now 37-year-old said her primary school back in Melbourne offered all grade three students the opportunity to learn a string instrument - the cello or violin.
Mrs Bartlett said being a taller girl, she decided to start learning the cello.
"I enjoyed it," she said. "I was pretty good at it so it went from there."
Mrs Bartlett said from that moment onward, music became a large part of her life. She auditioned and was accepted into the Melbourne Youth Music Program when she was in grade five.
"I got into the junior strings group there and I loved it," she said. "It was fabulous. It was such a great program.
"I stayed with Melbourne Youth Music until I was at uni and I was in the Melbourne Youth Orchestra for a number of years. I just made lifelong friends who I moved through that organisation with."
Mrs Bartlett said music just always made sense to her.
"I would sit in maths class and the teacher would explain something and go, have you got that?" she said. "My brain would just be like, no.
"But in music when the teacher asked me, did you hear that? Did you get that? I did. I got it. I heard what they were asking me to hear and I just understood the system behind it and loved it.
"And I loved the way it made me feel and process emotion, and the way it can have such an effect on us that can be so unspoken."
Mrs Bartlett continued studying music through primary school, high school, and then into university.
She was accepted into the University of Melbourne's Conservatorium of Music where she eventually graduated with a double degree in music and teaching.
It was at university where she met her now-husband Brendan and her life changed. Brendan was born and raised in Bendigo. He told her he wanted to return home after his studies.
Mrs Bartlett joined him and they moved into the region in 2006. She spent her first year teaching music in the Castlemaine and Maldon areas, before moving to a job at Girton Grammar School in 2007.
She has been working there ever since.
"I'm very motivated by teaching," Mrs Bartlett said. "I love the idea of helping students find their place and their passion.
"I absolutely love seeing young students come to music and realise that it's their thing as well.
"They might not be a sporty kid or an academic kid but they come to music and they get it and they find their place.
"I love that about music. I love that it offers that for students and I love to facilitate that."
In the past 13 years, Mrs Bartlett said her focus had been broader than just teaching music.
She got married and started a family. Mrs Bartlett said her two sons Alastair and Percy - aged three and four - meant the world to her.
"Family is hugely important," she said. "I love spending time with my boys and sharing my love of music with them as well. And following their interests, which are so diverse and crazy at that age.
"We have been doing a lot of Lego and it was not something I was into as a kid. But I'm discovering the joy of Lego, which is awesome."
Mrs Bartlett has also been an active part of Bendigo's community music scene. She joined the City of Greater Bendigo Brass Band when she first moved to the region.
She still performs in the group and has been the ensemble's music director since 2011.
"The Brass Band has really been the consistent community music group that I have done over the years," she said.
"It really became a second home, a second family. They're just a fantastic group of people."
Mrs Bartlett has also been part of the Bendigo Symphony Orchestra, and has played in many theatre shows for the Bendigo Theatre Company, Apollo Productions, and Nexus Theatre.
She has also been involved with the Forever Young Choir since its inception in 2011. Mrs Bartlett is also currently working with Tribe Youth Theatre as the musical director for their production of the musical, Cats.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, she was also regularly playing live gigs around the state and recently toured with Damien Leith.
When the coronavirus restrictions limited those opportunities, Mrs Bartlett moved to online performances and digital projects to maintain her creativity.
"There were plenty of gigs I had that were cancelled or postponed," she said. "But I still love to play and play as much as I can.
"I've recently discovered composing and coming up with my own stuff. I'm just kind of seeing where that all goes at the moment. I'm just following my interests."
Mrs Bartlett said she would also continue performing and working in her various roles around Bendigo.
"I think Bendigo has a really healthy community music scene, which is awesome," she said. "I would really just want to foster that and grow that as much I can.
"Certainly, our roots are down in Bendigo fairly solidly and there are no plans to leave. I'm just quite happy making music and doing that as much as I can."
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