“The cello is the most perfect instrument aside from the human voice.” Zuill Bailey

Do you remember the movie, “If I Stay?” The main character played the cello and mesmerized audiences entirely. Her ability to play the cello gave the viewers hope to enjoy the sweet sounds that life has to offer. The violoncello or as it is rather simply called the cello is a stringed instrument that also belongs to the violin family.

You ought to remember you could learn how to play the cello as an instrument on its own. You could even learn how to play the violin or the viola. All three instruments despite belonging to the same family have their differences.

The cello is significantly larger in size than both the viola and violin and it is believed that the cello produces a deeper and richer sound in comparison to the other two instruments. The violin is the smallest of these three instruments in the violin family. The viola is slightly bigger but both the viola and violin have shorter and thinner strings that allow both of the instruments to hit higher notes.

Which instrument in the violin family are you enthusiastic about playing?

If you are considering which instrument to try from this particular family, many people do suggest that you start with the cello first. The reason the cello is recommended is that it’s played from a very natural position. People say the positioning required for playing the violin can be rather awkward initially but becomes easier over time. You must remember that learning to play any instrument can feel rather awkward in the beginning but you adapt to playing the instrument over time.

The cello is a popular instrument among string players.
The cello is a string instrument, typically made of wood. Photo credit: dejankrsmanovic on VisualHunt.com / CC BY
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Taking Cello Lessons

Perhaps you were intrigued by the idea that playing the cello is easier than playing any other instrument in the violin family. You ought to remember that the cello is much bigger in size than the violin. If you think about it, the musical instrument would be far heavier as it is made with much more wood than the violin or viola. So what would be the best way to start taking lessons with an instrument of this sort?  Begin by playing the cello from a seated position. Cello players far too often are seen playing the instrument while being seated to avoid getting a strenuous workout.  Always begin playing the instrument from a seated position to ensure you stay comfortable while playing.

Advisably tutors will recommend that you position yourself at the edge of your seat with your left foot in a slightly forward placement. Keep the body of the instrument fixed against your chest while also being positioned between your knees. With this recommendation from cello tutors alike, you will be able to grasp whether this position is comfortable for you or not. When playing a larger instrument like the cello, you have to consider your own size. If you feel uncomfortable or look uncomfortable while playing, you rather find a position more suitable for you.

To be honest, the main consideration is keeping grip of the cello and preventing it from falling while you are getting to grips with how to play the string instrument. It may certainly take a while to become accustomed to gripping the instrument in a way that’s comfortable.

In strings magazine, an incident was narrated whereby a student forgot his endpin which resulted in his cello going flying with his fingers and concentration too. Therefore as a beginner cello player, make sure to invest in an endpin and make sure that you buy a sharp endpin.

Is the pandemic preventing you from achieving your cello-playing dreams? Why not consider online cello lessons?

The cello often makes up part of an orchestra.
The cello is most commonly linked to classical music. Photo on Visualhunt.com

Learn to Play the Cello Online

You have decided to settle for online classes to learn to play the cello. Well, the good thing is that online classes will also teach you the traditional way to play the cello. You  will learn that:

  • You begin by making sure that your cello is tuned: Every cello player knows that you have to initially tune your cello with your chosen tuner. Tuning can be done manually or electronically. You must bow each string using the same finger pressure on all of the strings to test if they sound as they should.
  • You learn how to play open strings: At first, you will be told to start with C and end with A. This is referred to as open strings as you don’t need to press down with your left fingers. Starting at C and ending with A is also a way to check your strings.
  • Grab the bow: Online classes may very well teach you how to grab hold of the bow at the 'frog' end using your right hand, with your fingers kept rounded. You should hold the bow between your thumb and using your first three fingers,  get your bow ready to connect with your strings. Start by placing the bow on any string pressing lightly on the bow hair and thereafter applying slight pressure to the string.
  • Once you are comfortable, move the bow backward and forward: Moving the bow backward and forward on the string while keeping the bow parallel to the bridge is you actually playing the instrument. When you do bow correctly, your elbow will be up.  Your tutor will suggest that you keep your arm closer to your body and not play while your body gesture looks too open.
  • Learning notes: Your tutor will teach you the notes to play which will determine how long you will move over each string and the extent of pressure to apply to the string. As a beginner cello player, you will be given a book or musical sheet with the notes on it so you can practice well.
  • Over time, you become comfortable in your chosen position: If you can stay in the same position for the full duration of your piece without feeling uncomfortable or without wanting to adjust your posture, you have found the right position for you. You will take time to find the best position and that’s where your online cello tutor will step in to assist you with tips on positioning your cello in different ways that are comfortable yet acceptable for playing the cello.

Are There Any Cello Lessons Near Me?

“Are there any cello lessons near me?”

If you are asking this question, it’s possibly because you have become enthusiastic about the idea of playing the instrument.

Cello is a classical instrument and Classic FM may very well endorse advertisements for cello enthusiasts who are offering cello tutorial classes. You may even hear an advertisement for a cellist on your favorite radio stations like Lenz FM, or 5FM. You can ask around to see if there are any cellists in your area who offer cello lessons. You could also check out the Superprof site to see if there are any cellists offering online or in-person cello classes.

Start polishing up on your cello knowledge prior to contacting a cellist. If you are utterly clueless about this instrument, start doing your research. Most cellists will tell you that the best way to get in tune with the instrument is to listen to others playing the cello. You start by listening from the point of view of someone with barely any knowledge about the length of time that a bow can be on a string. After a few cello lessons, you can begin to appreciate the way other cellists play. There is no better way to admire cello playing other than by listening to some of the best cellists playing the cello themselves.

So how can you learn to appreciate good cellists? Well, listen to the greatest cellists from all over the world.

Famous Cellists

“Music is a higher revelation than all my wisdom and philosophy.” Ludwig  van Beethoven

If you are keen on listening to cellists who are bound to tug at heartstrings then surely you should consider sinking your teeth into sounds from:

  • Luigi Boccherini
  • Adrien-François Servais
  • Pablo Casals
  • Pierre Fournier
  • Natalia Gutman
  • Steven Isserlis
  • Julian Lloyd Webber
  • Yo-Yo Ma
  • Mischa Maisky
  • David Popper
  • Jacqueline du Pré
  • Mstislav Rostropovich

If you want a taste of some South African cello music, perhaps sounds from Abel Selacoe will tickle your fancy. Abel is a homegrown cellist who explores the versatilities that the cello has to offer. When Abel plays, he moves from a range of genres and styles.

Many people learn to play the cello.
Playing the cello. Photo credit: Spiros Vathis on VisualHunt.com / CC BY-ND

Have you already taken the plunge and started cello lessons? Perhaps you are a self-taught cello player wishing to advance your ability to play the instruments.

Let us listen to you play …

Tune your cello and let’s listen to you play John Legend's, “All of Me,” on your instrument.

If you give your cello lessons, all of you, you will be able to play, “All of Me” effortlessly in no time.

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Laila

Laila is an enthusiastic English educator and a fun-filled freelance writer. She has accomplished her dream of getting her first book published and has managed to write over 1 000 000 words since beginning her freelance career. In her free time, she is a travel blogger who explores all South Africa has to offer.