What you should know about playing the cello

The world of classical music is truly beautiful and filled with many unique instruments. One of the most popular ones that are seen in many orchestras is the cello. The instrument is quite difficult to play, however, if you put in the time to master it, you can truly create some of the most beautiful music. Here are some things that you should know about the cello and playing it.

The Instrument is Fretless

When people look at stringed instruments, the first thing they think of is a guitar. The guitar is by far the most popular stringed instrument, however, it is vastly different from the likes of the cello and violin. The guitar has frets, which allow you to place your finger confidently and easily to obtain the sound you want. Cellos on the other hand are fretless, meaning if your finger is not in the right place by even half an inch, your sound will either be sharp or flat. The experts at Musical How state that it is for this reason that the cello is such a hard instrument to play. There are a few workarounds however when you first start playing to help.

What many beginner musicians do is place stickers on the fingerboard of the cello to show the exact places where you have to put your fingers. This is a great thing to do at the beginning as it will allow you to develop muscle memory while also allowing you to play the correct notes. As soon as you start to get the hang of things, take the stickers off and see if your fingers know where to go. It takes time but before you know it your fingers will know exactly where to go.

Finger Calluses

With any string instrument, you will start to develop calluses on your left hand which will become permanent if you continue to play. Calluses are not a bad thing by any means as it is just the skin hardening in those areas. It will allow you to play the instrument for longer periods of time without pain. If you are getting into cello, this is something that you have to understand as not all people are comfortable with the idea of calluses.

Different Bowing Techniques

When it comes to actually playing the cello, it is not as easy as simply moving the bow back and forth. There are very strict techniques that you have to follow to ensure that you are getting the right sound, and also not damaging the instrument. Within bowing itself, there are many different techniques for you to learn and master that will greatly change the sound quality that you produce. The more you play, the more you will learn about the instrument, therefore equipping you with more tools to play.

Get a Teacher

While you can teach yourself how to play any instrument with enough dedication and discipline, with harder instruments like the cello, it is recommended that you get a teacher. Why is this important? As mentioned above, there are many different bowing techniques out there, and even standard bowing is not as easy as one would think. When you are starting out on the instrument, it can be very easy to develop bad habits.

By having a teacher that you can go to weekly, they can make sure that you are learning properly. Any bad techniques will quickly be corrected and you will also be able to learn that much quicker. It is an investment, but if you are considering learning the cello, you should definitely factor in lessons to the cost of the instrument itself.

You Will Need Music Theory

Many people think that you do not need to understand music when it comes to learning an instrument. While you can get away with it to some extent with something like a guitar, that is not the case with the cello. You will also need to learn how to play and read music, while also understanding how the instrument works itself. All of this will be vital if you want to get better at the cello and grow your musicality as well.

The cello is a truly beautiful instrument but does take a lot of work to master. Just like with learning anything, it can get frustrating at times, but you should stick with it as best as possible. Take breaks when you need to, but never neglect your practice and the benefits it brings. A teacher will also ensure that you develop proper playing habits and help you. What are you most interested in when it comes to the cello?

Buddy Iahn
Buddy Iahn

Buddy Iahn founded The Music Universe when he decided to juxtapose his love of web design and music. As a lifelong drummer, he decided to take a hiatus from playing music to report it. The website began as a fun project in 2013 to one of the top independent news sites. Email: info@themusicuniverse.com