Getting Started on the Cello

Consider Buying, Not Renting

     Although most people will be hesitant to purchase an instrument they're only just begun learning, it might actually be a good idea for a number of reasons.  First, cellos, like all wooden stringed instruments, will generally appreciate in value over time if they remain in good condition.  It is likely therefore that if you do buy one and decide later that you don't want it anymore you'll be able to sell it for at least what you paid originally, if not a little more.  Owning your own cello will also eliminate the usually hefty costs of renting.   In addition, you're more likely to take care of and thus care more about an instrument you've actually bought and aren't just borrowing.  Finally, and perhaps most importantly, your cello should be an object with which you have some sort of relationship that develops over time.  The sooner you have a cello that's yours and only yours, the sooner you can begin building that relationship.

Practice Your Scales

     Practicing scales over and over again is very few musician's idea of a fun way to spend an afternoon.  Most instructional books, DVD's and teachers however, strongly recommend playing scales above anything else in order to develop the muscle memory, skill, and technique necessary for success.  Scales are the building blocks of music, and though they aren't always the most exciting form of practice, spending time with them will pay great dividends when the music you play becomes more complicated and thus more challenging.  Any shop that sells song books will have scale books for any level of player.  In order to not get burned out, it's advisable to practice a combination of scales as well as a particular piece you're interested in learning.

Find an Instructor

     Though private or even group lessons can be a bit expensive, there is no substitute for personal instruction from an accomplished musician.  The cello is a very technical instrument, and there are many important issues surrounding proper playing posture, bowing, and fingering that books and videos simply won't be able to address for your individual playing.  Teacher's are especially important in the early stages of learning as bad habits that a book or video would fail to correct will hold you back as long as you continue to play with them.  Unlearning these habits then replacing them with correct ones only becomes more difficult with time. Therefore, learning everything correctly from the beginning and practicing that way is essential. 

Share Your Passion

     The internet has revolutionized the way many people learn about and experience new things, and music is certainly no exception.  Go online and see if you can find fellow musicians that might also just be starting out in your area.  Play with them, and share your music as well as your personal experiences.  Many cities and towns have community orchestras filled with musicians of all ages and skill levels.  Joining one is a great way to not only play different types of music, but to meet like-minded individuals passionate about learning and perfecting their craft.

Stay Inspired

     If you're trying to learn a new instrument, it's likely that something has inspired you to do so, be it a desire to emulate music you love, a musician you like, or just a desire to improve yourself.  The cello is difficult to learn however, and there will certainly be times when the frustration of not having the instrument sound the way you would like will feel overwhelming.  Rather than giving up and walking away for good, try to remind yourself of why you started playing in the first place.  Take a pause from practicing and listen to recordings of cellists and orchestras you really enjoy.  Let the music move you, and try to imagine yourself preforming at that level.  When you find yourself once again inspired, get back to basics and work on pieces or scales within your ability to play before going back to more challenging material.

        Though it can be challenging to stick with and learn, the cello is a beautiful instrument that's always worth spending time with.  Stay positive, practice when you can, and don't forget to just have fun!

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