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Where do I start with learning the cello?

The cello is an increasingly popular instrument often associated with classical music, in particular the solo pieces of Bach’s six cello suites. However in recent years the Cello has become increasingly visible in contemporary music settings. It perhaps started with the cello-metal sub genre, founded by Apocalyptica who covered Metallica songs and have played with Slipknot’s Corey Taylor and Slayer’s Dave Lombardo. Those who decide to take up the cello are indeed in stellar company, so is it the instrument for you?

Those who seek a conventional method of learning will find a reputable cello teacher who charges approximately $37/ £25 /€35 per hour. However there are a number of effective online resources which can give you a good grounding in the basics. Sites such as Wonder How To CelloCello Academy and our highest rated Cello online resource String Lessons, have excellent tutorials for beginners. Some sites offer a very comprehensive service which provides students with a course book and one to one video lessons.

Gaining a good grasp of cello basics will affect how your technique progresses. It starts with holding the cello in the correct position, holding the bow correctly and mastering bow placement. Once this has been achieved you can start to consider cello fingering and bow skills.

Learning the cello can be intimidating, so we have put together three helpful tips for the beginner.

  1. Is your cello in tune? Many people may buy a secondhand cello when they start out but you need to make sure it is up to the job. Even the slightest bump can make the cello go out of tune and this could affect your musical ear.
  2. Think about your bow. Is it adequately rosined? Make sure the hair is taut and that it makes a flat surface.
  3. Select practice music which keeps you inspired. Whilst scales are necessary for your development, playing a song you like will give you that extra push towards perfection.

When it comes to selecting a cello for a beginner, there are many factors to consider including, students age/size, budget and level of interest. Cellos come in different sizes and you need to consider the age and shape of the person who is going to be playing the instrument. If the student is a child and still growing, it is advisable to select a cost effective cello as they will eventually out grow it. Budget is also a consideration as prices range from a few hundred pounds up to hundreds of thousands.

As with all instruments the cello needs practice. Always try to find a quiet practice space where you won’t be disturbed. Gather all your music accessories such as music stand, pencil and even a drink if you are going to be practising for a longer period of time. Remember to warm up and practice with purpose, for example set yourself a goal and reward yourself when you get it just right.

Amanda Forsyth

Amanda Forsyth

Kevin Olusola

Kevin Olusola

Yo-Yo Ma

Yo-Yo Ma

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