You finally have your hands on your new cello!  It has a long, graceful neck and fingerboard with gently rolling shoulders and edge-work, ending in a stout peg box. Like its sister the violin, the cello is a romantic instrument. It is also versatile.

The cello can be played as a solo instrument, as a member of a string orchestra, in a chamber ensemble, and even in some rock and indie bands. It has a broad range of pitch and can go four octaves or more.

If you are serious about learning how to play the cello, it is imperative that you enroll for a cello class. If you aren’t sure of your commitment to playing and practicing for the instrument in the future, then it is wise to just rent a cello instead of purchasing one.

 

Enrolling and starting a music class is an exciting time. You go in your first class and come out as a cellist. Before you go to your cello class, you might want to know some of the things you can expect.

The cello, a late-comer to the strings family, is the second largest string instrument. Its direct ancestor was the bass violin. The earliest known cello was built between the 1500s and 1600s. It was first called the violoncello, an Italian word which literally meant “little big violin.” Over the years, the name was shortened to 'cello.'

Among the most famous works written specifically for the cello were Johann Bach’s six unaccompanied Suites, with the first Suite’s Prelude being the most popular. Compositions from the early 1900s included Claude Debussy’s Sonata for Cello and Piano and the unaccompanied sonatas by Zoltan Kodaly and Paul Hindemith. The cello can be found in today’s pop music when you consider more modern bands and music acts like Phillip Phillips, OneRepublic, Smashing Pumpkins, Aerosmith and Oasis. Each used the cello in some of their work.

Your teacher will show you how to care for your cello.

Some teachers may see the instrument as an extension of a musician’s heart and soul. It is through it that he pours his feelings - love, anger, despair, or even bitterness. Others believe the instrument to be a tool, to be used with skill and dedication. In either case, to keep your cello in peak condition, proper maintenance and care must be given. It must be dusted off once a week, using a slightly damp cotton cloth.

After playing your cello, clean off the rosin dust from your cello to avoid build up. Your teacher will also show you how to rosin your cello bow. The rosin makes the hairs of your bow grip the string of your cello to produce a right tone. He or she will also show you how to tighten the horsehair in your bow, and how to loosen it after you practice.

Your teacher will teach you how to tune your cello.

Make sure your instrument is properly tuned before you play.  Even the slightest bump on your cello during transport can cause it to go out of tune, so take extra care on your commute. Time in its case, in dry or moist conditions, can affect tuning as well.  You will be taught to use a chromatic tuner to tune your instrument. Once you get the hang of it, and your sense of hearing is now musically inclined, you can tune your cello without the chromatic tuner.

Your teacher will show you the proper position in playing the cello.

Your teacher will show the appropriate sitting technique in playing your instrument. You will be taught the proper posture and the right way to hold the bow and the cello. Having the right sitting position will make playing the cello comfortable and enjoyable. Learning the right way to hold the cello bow may take time, but once you master it, the bow will feel like the extension of your hand.

Remember that, with practice, playing the cello will come naturally and the music will flow from your hand to your instrument smoothly and freely. A spike holder or cello stopper will help you hold your cello in place.

Your teacher will show you where to apply your fingers.

Your teacher will teach you proper finger placement to produce tunes or chords that you need for a song. Your teacher may put marks or finger stickers on your cello’s fingerboard to help you memorize the correct placement. After a few sessions, you will be expected to know the proper finger placements and the stickers or marks will be removed.

You will learn about scaling and open string practice.

Your teacher will first guide you on how to correctly bow your cello. You will bow your cello between the fingerboard and the bridge. Once you can properly bow your cello, your teacher will teach you basic scales that you can practice on. Scaling, as with other music instruments such as the piano, is a great way of warming up. It is one way to check if your cello is properly tuned and if your bow position and left-hand position are correct. You will also be doing open strings exercises, where you will only be focusing on your bow placement.

You will be pushed to practice, practice, and practice.

Playing a musical instrument entails lots of practice, for you to grow musically. The technical aspect of the discipline will require your focus and commitment. Daily practice is essential to keep you on track. If you want to grow in your instrument, you must invest, not just financially, but also regarding your time and effort.

With your new cello in your hands, you may be fantasizing about holding your first hall concert with your instrument. Look for more inspiration in Julian Lloyd Weber, Yo-Yo Ma, Jacqueline du Pre, or Zoe Keating. You may be into non-traditional cellists like YouTube famous The Piano Guys.

Remember that a musical genius is not born overnight. A musical genius is someone who poured his heart and soul to his instrument, invested his time on it, and studied a great deal of his music. Music is a gift, but if not nurtured through practice, it will be a gift wasted.