“What’s that big violin-like instrument over there?” If you are not yet acquainted with the cello, let us discover the endless charms of this instrument in today’s article!
What’s a Cello?
Part of the string family, the cello is a larger cousin of the violin and viola, but smaller than the double bass in size. Unlike the double bass, which is played while the player is standing up, a cello is supported by a metal peg against the ground. It is situated between a seated player’s knees, with the neck resting on a player’s left shoulder. Like the violin or viola, a cello has four strings, but its large wooden body and thicker strings produce a much warmer and mellower tone when players slide their bows across the strings.
Fun Fact About the Cello
Although most people call it the cello, this modern title is in fact a shortened version of the original violoncello, which translates to “little big viola” from Italian.
Where Can You Find a Cello?
While cellos are often found in orchestras alongside other string instruments, there is also solo repertoire for the cello, the most renowned of which being Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1. The cello’s soothing timbre makes it adaptable to both subtle harmonic and striking melodic lines.
Some of the most notable cellists of today include Yo-Yo Ma, Mischa Maisky, Steven Isserlis and Alisa Weilerstein. Towards the side of contemporary music, you might be familiar with the cellist from The Piano Guys, Steve, or the cello duo Stjepan Hauser and Luka Sulic from 2Cellos.
Popular Cello Pieces
The cello boasts a huge selection of solo repertoire, as well as concertos. One of the most recognisable pieces of cello works would be Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1.
The role of the cello also can’t go unnoticed for setting a soothing bass line in the ever famous Pachelbel’s Canon in D.
When’s a Good Age to Start Learning the Cello?
While it varies from child to child, the recommended age for starting on the cello is around 6 to 7 years old. Like learning any other musical instrument, a certain level of concentration is required of the child to take away any musical learning from the lessons. However, string instruments also tend to require more physical strength, finger dexterity and perseverance than, for instance, the piano. Not only would the child have to be able to adopt a proper bow grip, they would have to accurately position their fingers on the strings and coordinate their bowing well to produce a clear-sounding note.
Benefits of Learning the Cello
Besides encouraging self-discipline, it is widely acknowledged that music lessons pose many benefits to a child’s cognitive development. Though playing the cello can be a physically and mentally demanding task, what children can gain in return are improved motor skills and determination. Furthermore, the cello is present in repertoire that involves other instruments, hence a cellist will definitely get the chance to foster their sense of teamwork with other musicians.
How to Prepare Your Child for Cello Lessons
If your child is too young to start on the cello, the next alternative would be to pick up the violin first. A child can start learning the violin from as young as 4 years old, and the violin will be a good introduction to the string family and its repertoire of music. With this, you can seek to first develop your child’s interest in string instruments, while allowing them to build the common basic foundations required to play one.
Another great option would be to start out with piano lessons first, as the piano is a wonderful entry-level instrument for young children without any musical background. Learning the piano will help the child gain all the fundamental musical knowledge and skills needed to easily conquer any instrument they should choose in future. It might be a better option for children who are not as patient or have less interest in music, as the notes are clearly demarcated on the keyboard and producing sound on the piano is fairly intuitive. As such, it might be an instrument that provides more immediate satisfaction to keep the child interested in exploring other options in music.
Cello Lessons at Aureus Academy
At Aureus Academy, Singapore’s leading music school, we offer cello lessons for kids as young as 6 or 7 years old. Our passionate cello teachers are experienced in customising lessons for each individual child and in honing their skills towards specific goals and interests. Aureus Academy also offers a flexible scheduling system which allows our students to switch between instruments easily.
For parents looking to start your child out on another instrument like the violin or piano before they are ready for the cello, our centres and teachers are well-equipped to ensure a smooth transition process for your child. Curious to find out more about our cello lessons? Why not book a Free Trial Lesson with us to experience it first-hand for yourself?
Xin Min is a Content Creator at Aureus Group and her love for music spurs her to spread the wonders of this art form through her writing. She finds her passion in a multitude of musical genres from jazz, classical to broadway, and is constantly on the lookout for the next piece that will fascinate her. Besides having fun with words, she spends her hours engaging in other creative art projects and running her fingers across her piano keyboard.