The cello is part of the violin family (along with the viola and string bass) and a typical cello lesson incorporates many of the same techniques. As with the violin, the proper handling of the instrument is critical. The cello faces away from the student and is played in a sitting position and this requires a unique approach.
First Few Cello Lessons
The first few lessons include learning the proper posture for playing the cello, including how to play the instrument comfortably for long periods of time.
The angle of the bow and the amount of pressure applied while bowing is critical to the tone of the notes played. The cello uses a larger bow than the violin and longer, more flowing arm movements are required. The student also learns how a bow is constructed and maintained and the importance of applying the right amount rosin to the bow to achieve the best possible tone.
When it comes to learning the individual notes of the cello, most teachers begin by showing the student the notes created by playing the open strings of the instrument.
Simple scales and one-string melodies are used in to gain familiarity with the notes that can be created on each individual string. Then the student is given a fingering chart to help them locate the proper pitch of the notes as they are pressed to the fingerboard.
Because the cellist has a limited view of their left hand, students are taught to rely on muscle memory to play notes in tune. Some teachers temporarily mark certain places on the fingerboard (certain positions for certain notes) for beginning students until they can finger the notes accurately and consistently.
Because the instrument is large, additional strength is required and the student may experience muscle soreness or other discomfort for the first few days of playing. Cellos of smaller sizes are available to younger students.
Additional Information Taught During Cello Lessons
Students also learn how to change strings, tune the instrument, and adjust the bow for maximum tone and playability. They also learn how to safely transport and protect the instrument
Learning the basics of music notation is part of studying the cello. Some teachers require in-depth study of the signs and symbols of written music, while others initially place more importance on playing simple scales and melodies.
Advanced Cello Lessons
Advanced students learn techniques such as vibrato, double stops, and advanced bowing techniques. Most cello students are given the opportunity to play with others, whether it’s with their instructor or as a part of a group of other students.