Norma Kelley

Cape Symphony Faculty Spotlight: Meet Norma Kelley

Cellist Norma Kelley brings a wealth of teaching and performing experience to the Cape Symphony faculty. She also knows first-hand that teachers change lives.

Norma has been a member of the Cape Symphony Orchestra since 1975, and has seen audience appreciation of classical music grow substantially over those years. Asked for her favorite CSO memory, she replies without hesitation: “Playing with and talking to Yo-Yo Ma!” Ma visited the Cape in 2012 as part of the Cape Symphony Orchestra’s 50th anniversary celebrations, and was a friendly, fun, down-to-earth guest. “He played a Stradivarious,” Norma recalls, “and at one point offered to switch cellos with another musician… I’m sure his instrument manager was not thrilled, but the other cellist was!” The lucky cellist joked about how much better his less precious instrument sounded in Yo-Yo Ma’s hands.

Decades of experience inform Norma’s teaching style. She taught for 36 years in the Barnstable and Dennis-Yarmouth school systems, she knows how to connect with students, and sees how learning music enriches their lives. “Music education is wonderful in so many ways,” she says. Playing in an ensemble is especially rewarding. “Making friends, working together… it’s just like sports in that way.”

In her time off, Norma might be found anywhere on the globe. “I’m a cruiser!” she says happily. She’s been to Alaska, Bermuda, Haifa, Rome, and more. Next up: a North Atlantic excursion to Nova Scotia, and a trip from London to Miami.

What led Norma to a career in music? “It’s a little bit odd,” she reflects. Unlike many musicians, “I was the only one in my family who played an instrument.” She switched from clarinet to strings in the 5th grade in Barnstable, and the cello just seemed like the right fit.

Discussing music education and her own experiences, Norma reflects on the influence of a very special teacher in her own life. “Ms. Laurin [later Lajoie] made sure I had a school-loaned instrument. She taught summer classes as a volunteer, where I picked up a second instrument [violin]. And when I thought about quitting in junior high, she absolutely would not hear of it.” Mrs. Lajoie eventually moved to Rhode Island and continued teaching, inspiring countless other students who went on to pursue careers in music. Decades later, chatting with a fellow cellist at a CSO concert, Norma discovered they had this outstanding teacher in common. “We’d had the same wonderful teacher at either end of her career!” she says. “I have no clue what I’d be doing in life if not for her.”


Norma Kelley is accepting new students of all ages at Cape Symphony’s Barnstable campus. For more information and to arrange a trial lesson, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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