How to play the Cello

Learn the Cello with the Cello Fast Track Program


Customize your practice times to fit your life. I have had to change my practice schedule almost every five to six months. At first, I practiced at night. Then I found that practicing in the morning worked better. At other times, I actually drove to another building in the morning to find a quiet place to practice. Now, years later, I’m back to practicing at home at night. I recommend practicing for at least 30 minutes every other day as a bare minimum. If you can practice for an hour, then that will help you get past the “beginner stage” even faster.  If your schedule permits daily practice, then that will be even better. I do recommend taking one day off per week to give your mind and muscles a rest. Break your practice times into smaller sections of five minutes. Each practice should include some scales in the key in which you will be playing that day. When first starting, the key of D will be used most often. Music played in the key of D will keep you in the “first position.”  Your first few weeks should include warm-ups in D major, followed by a beginner cello piece. Then play any music for your own enjoyment at the beginner level. Playing music that you enjoy is an important method for learning faster and growing musically.The cello fast track program includes musical pieces that will give you a well-rounded start. When I first started, I played most of the music that was included in my beginner books, but it seemed that there was always some music that was not as enjoyable as the rest. Make an effort to play each piece as you progress and stop playing the pieces that you don’t enjoy musically.



As much as I love the cello, I can say that some days I need more motivation. I find myself on the couch after a long day, and I can’t seem to get up. I try this “trick” on myself, and it often works. I think, “I need to practice for the performance this weekend but don’t want to do a full thirty-minute practice.” I then tell myself, “Okay, Kyle, then at least play one scale and that new music and be done for the day with a ten-minute practice.” Before I know it, I’ve done the scale, started playing Bach, an hour passes, and I can’t put the cello down! Other days, I just do the ten-minute practice and call it a day. Your first two to four months will be the most important of all. This will get you past the beginner stage to where you can produce a good tone and sound less like a novice.  As you work past the beginner stage, you will become more motivated. Don’t try to cram a whole week’s worth of practice into one day. Regular practice every other day or every day will build up your playing skills much better than cram sessions. With regular practice, you will become better, and your motivation will start to form from new musical experiences, playing new music, or practicing for a new show, gig, or just a fun musical session with family or friends.

The History of the Cello

Birth of the Cello

Crude stringed instruments started being played in Europe around the 9th century. The first distinct types to rise up were the lyre and harp, and then by the 12th century the “fiddle” or violin had become quite popular. At that time violins were either held in the arms or placed between the legs. The cello came into popular use starting in the 16th century in Italy, and basically looks like a violin’s large older brother. Conductors and composers were looking for lower tones than a regular violin could produce. What started out as the “violoncello” was soon shortened to what we call the instrument today. Composers started writing cello parts that audiences loved, and royal families also enjoyed the instrument enough to request concerts including the instrument. The cello was used in Bach’s Baroque works , and in popular quartets and sonatas. The instruments would catch on later for soloists. In time the cello would lead to the evolution of the double bass, an instrument with even lower tones than the cello.

The Form of the Cello

Cellos appear to be huge violins, and indeed cellos are stringed instruments in the same family as the violin. The person who plays a cello is called a cellist, and he must sit in a chair and balance the cello on a spike between the legs and lean the instrument against his shoulder. The cellist moves a bow across the strings to produce deep, resounding tones. The best cellos are made of quality woods and are hand-carved. Cellos are also specially formed to resist cracking in the body of the instrument. Cracks must be avoided at all costs in order to preserve the integrity of the instrument’s beautiful sounds. The design of the cello has changed since its inception to make the instrument easier for people to play. The height and width of the cello increased, balancing out the weight more. Also, an end pin was added for a sturdy positioning of the instrument.

The Appeal of the Cello

The cello quickly fell into favor with audiences and composers alike for the sounds the instrument could produce. Players could gain much attention and acclaim by mastering the cello and performing in front of audiences. The cello works by famous composers such as Beethoven and Bach spread the appeal of the instrument far and wide.

Cello Uses throughout the centuries

Ccellos have been used as part of orchestras and symphonies, and for quartets and then solo pieces as well. Now there are even cellos available in electric forms for more modern rock or pop music. Modern bands such as Rasputina use the cello to emphasize dark, gothic tones in their original music. Cellos have been used in the past by famous bands such as The Beatles and Pink Floyd. Cellos are also featured prominently in some jazz and neoclassical albums as well. Cellos can even be heard in bluegrass and folk music. Throughout the centuries the cello has evolved and proved its lasting appeal through its sustained popularity and versatility as a beautiful-sounding instrument and a vital part of any orchestra.

Cello Lessons

So you want to learn the cello? I can’t blame you. Who would not want to learn the only instrument that can produce a Mesmerizing tone. Before you start your journey consider the below steps and get ready for the fun!

Step One: Open your mind
Prepare yourself for new experiences and a new outlook. Activities like surfing the web for hours on end might no longer interest you; you will find that the way you see your free time has changed for the better. Get ready for the possibilities of new ideas and new friends to share them with; get ready for a new you!

Step Two: Make a plan
Like any goal you want to reach, cello lessons require making a plan and sticking to it. Set small, reasonable milestones for now; you can always raise the bar higher as you progress. Think about what type of music you want to play and who your “audience” will be—do you want to join a group or just play in your living room for your own enjoyment? Decide on your destination before you take the first step on your journey.

Step Three: Determine your learning style
There are several formats in which to learn. You can take lessons via online instruction such as video tutorials or live instructors. You can pick up a few audio tapes or books on learning to play the cello and teaching yourself. Or, if you are a more traditional learner, you can hire an instructor or join a local music class.

Step Four: Decide on a budget
Do you want to rent an instrument or do you want to own one? Would you prefer to learn on your own or hire an instructor to teach you? The amount you will need to invest in will depend heavily on your answers to these questions.

Step Five: Rent or purchase a cello
Based on your personal preferences and budget, you will need to either rent or purchase a cello to use in taking start. Some music stores or companies will allow you to rent with the option to buy after a certain point in the contract; if you would like to own your instrument but do not have the funds to do so immediately this is a good option to think over. This is also a great option if you are interested in the cello but do not know if you are ready to make the investment.

Step Six: Customize
One of the most important parts of playing the cello (second, only, to the cello itself!) is the bow. Since you are just starting out , do not go overboard when deciding on a bow; a simple student model will serve you well for the first part of your instruction.Your new cello will also need to be protected. Depending on how you have obtained your cello (rent or purchase), you may or may not have a case for it. Soft or hard cases are available in different materials and price ranges, and it is important to chose the option which works best for you while still keeping your instrument safe.

Another vital accessory to your playing is rosin. Rosin is the material that allows your bow to glide across the strings of the cello and is available in small containers from most music stores that carry string instruments. Rosin is important to keeping your bow and cello strings in ideal playing condition.

Step Seven: Select your learning method
If you are going with a self-learning route, it is time to gather your materials and determine your own lesson plans. If you are going to learn from someone else, now is the time to get in touch with your instructor and either set up private cello lesson or join a class.

Step Eight: Broaden your horizons
Once you have a good grasp on the fundamentals—things such as how to hold the cello and the bow, how to position your fingers over the strings to produce various notes and tones—and have played several pieces to your satisfaction, you can start looking for the next step; find a musical group to join! There are musical ensembles that play in various locations and for different types of audiences in professional and casual capacities. You may not be interested in playing on a stage or for the public; if that is the case, you might find great pleasure in finding a cello fellowship-type group instead. You can learn a lot and make lasting friendships with others who have similar interests as you. Either way, get out there!

Step Nine: Enjoy and share
Take the time to enjoy the new skill you have learned and the music you can now create. Even if you are not interested in playing for a large audience, gather together a few friends and share your new gift.