May 28, 2015 at 7:18 pm #2054
What do you love about playing the cello? How long have you been playing for? Where are you from?June 3, 2015 at 9:38 pm #2451
Okay, so I guess I’m more of a cellist wannabe. 🙂 I picked up a cello from Craigslist a couple of years ago…turned out to be a 3/4 size and its really hard for me to play – keep hitting my knees with the bow! I love the deep rich sounds of the cello…its just so beautiful. I was surprised as a violinist how easy it was for me to start reading cello music and figuring it out (I love the challenge of learning new instruments). So, right now I’m not playing cello, but if I find a nice full size one of these days hopefully I will be. 🙂June 6, 2015 at 3:09 am #2511
That is great you were able to pick up on reading the music from violin. I believe many cello players play on a 3/4 cello; it is a lot more common to see that compared to an adult playing on a 3/4 size violin. Is that true cellists that are reading this?June 11, 2015 at 12:05 pm #2751
Do you have any suggestions for violin/viola players learning a cello bow hold? I started playing cello to teach my sons, and my right hand seems to have an identity crisis!June 13, 2015 at 5:21 am #2824
Great question that unfortunately I don’t feel I know enough about to answer. Anybody else have some suggestions?June 23, 2015 at 12:28 pm #3188
The biggest difference between violin/viola bow grip and cello/bass bow (French bow, not German, that’s a whole different technique of bass bow playing) is that the latter is more about power. You want to allow the weight to basically flow from your upper back down your arm, wrist, and hand into the bow.
As an exercise, try this… let your hand dangle from the wrist, loosely. See how the fingers hang? Next, lay the cello bow against the fingers – it should only be touching the bottom 2 phalanges (the ends of your fingers). DON’T squeeze it! See if you can see the inside of your first finger joints between the wood and the hair. Next, curl your thumb up JUST ENOUGH to press the wood stick against your middle finger, like you’re pinching the bow between thumb and middle finger. Just the corner of your thumbnail at the corner where your frog meets the stick. All 4 fingers should be over the stick so the weight of your arm and hand is over the bow.
We cellists sink down into the strings rather than pull down like a violin bow. In fact, it’s actually rolled the other way – on violin/viola, the bow hair should be closer to you; on cello, the wood stick should be closer to you.
Things4Strings sells a bow grip aid called a Cellophant that helps guide your hand into the proper grip. See:
June 23, 2015 at 12:38 pm #3189
As for size, no, 3/4 is a size most middle school kids use. Once in high school, most players are ready for 4/4 size instruments. A VERY VERY general rule of thumb for sizing would be to stretch as far as you can between pinkie and index finger and measure that.
If you can reach X” you can probably play X/X size:
4″ = 1/2 size
5″ = 3/4 size
6″ = 4/4 size
The cello itself should fit comfortably so the point of the lower bout rests at the side of your knee, the top of the cello’s main body rests sqarely in the middle of your chest (on the breastbone), and the pegs are just behind your left ear. If you have a cello that’s too small, it will be cramped to play.
Also, if you hold the cello like that, you should be able to cross your arms over the fingerboard and touch the opposite corner points. If you can’t reach them, the cello is probably too big for you.June 23, 2015 at 12:50 pm #3190
Hi! I’m Elizabeth Davis, strings teacher at Pallotti High School in Laurel, Maryland. I’ve also been playing cello for over 35 years, including 17 years in two professional symphony orchestras. Unfortunately, several hand injuries and surgeries have wreaked havoc on my endurance, so I’m back in the amateur groups these days.
I earned a B.M. in cello performance from University of Evansville, Indiana, then went on to grad school at LSU in Baton Rouge, where I changed my major twice, culminating in a M.M. in music composition.
The last couple summers, I’ve been playing violin in a summer string orchestra, and while I love it, I’m afraid I’ve yet to develop a good violin vibrato! Seems I’ve ingrained the cello style too deeply!
This Youtube playlist has a few pieces my string quartet played in the last couple years if you’d like to hear us.July 18, 2015 at 6:53 pm #3826
Hello. My name is Gail and I’m a senior citizen. I live in Twentynine Palms, CA. I played violin in school many years ago. I found out that my local cultural center was offering a beginner strings class, so I decided to learn to play the cello. They had a full size loaner cello for me to learn on. I took classes and liked it so much I bought myself a good 7/8 size cello which fits my hand much better than the full size did. The cultural center has a community symphony orchestra that I want to join. They were having auditions last February, so I took a prep class to get myself ready. Then in January I had a bad fall and shattered my right elbow. I now have two stainless steel plates in my elbow holding the bone fragments together. I’m only now getting back the use of my right arm. There might be another round of auditions in August, so I have hope. I’ll have to work really hard, but they even accept beginners. The conductor is a genius. He arranges parts according to the player’s skill level. Anyway, I’m glad I found this site.July 20, 2015 at 1:52 pm #3847
Thank you for the explanation on size Elizabeth – I checked out the youtube channel (and subscribed! 🙂 ). It’s beautiful! Hope your injuries heal fully.