Introduction: How to Play Cello Part 1

Picture of How to Play Cello Part 1

I will give you a crash course for learning the cello and teach you a year's worth in one instructable

Step 1: Get Your Cello

Picture of Get Your Cello

if you are to play the cello, then you must get one.

here are your options:
1. buy new
2. buy used
3. rent used

I would prefer to rent one because i only paid $25.00 for a cello for one full year

then there is size
1. 1/4 size
2. 2/4 size
3. 3/4 size (the one I use)
4. 4/4 size (full size)

note: different sizes sound different because of the shell size
If you are 5ft-5ft5 get a 3/4

Step 2: Taking Apart the Cello in Case

Picture of Taking Apart the Cello in Case

now that you bought the cello, it's time to open it.

the basic parts of the cello are:
1. cello
2. bow
3. case

first, remove the bow. That may sound easy but you must grab it without touching the non-wood part (horsehair). the horsehair is white, so don't touch it!

Step 3: Setup

Picture of Setup

first set the bow nearby within reach. then adjust the pin on the bottom of the cello top the appropriate length. now grab the bow.

Step 4: How to Hold the Bow

Picture of How to Hold the Bow

bad news. before you learn notes, you must learn to hold the bow. you must hold the pencil between the second joint of your middle finger and tip of thumb. the picture shows the position of the other fingers. practice this on the bow next

Step 5: Let's Learn Some Music!

Picture of Let's Learn Some Music!

now, we will learn types of notes. the first picture shows you the types of notes from fastest played to slowest played. the next picture shows the different notes all in 2 beat fashion. Middle f and high c are sharps played with 3 fingers in this case. naturals are played with 2 fingers

Step 6: How Long Is a Beat?

basically, a beat is 2 seconds. so a eighth note is a half- beat or 1 second

Step 7: The Strings

Picture of The Strings

I will go in the order from thickest string to thinnest

1. C string

no fingers: c
1 finger:d
3 fingers:e
4 fingers:f

2. G string

no fingers:g
1 finger:a
3 fingers: b
4 fingers: c

3. D string

no fingers: d
1 finger:e
2 fingers: f natural
3 fingers: f sharp
4 fingers: g
4. A string

no fingers:a
1 finger: b
2 fingers: c natural
3 fingers: c sharp
4 fingers: d

notice that only the d and a strings have sharps. be careful. if you play f natural instead of f sharp in a song, the piece will sound wrong.

If you play 2 fingers on the 2 low strings, you will play nonsense notes

Step 8: The Warm-up and Putting It Together

Picture of The Warm-up and Putting It Together

now, to exercise your new knowledge, I recommend an exercise called a scale. when you play the scale, play from low notes (c) to high notes (d). when you play each note, think of its name. if you dont, you will think that the name of the correct note is actually another note.

WARNING!!!!!!!!!!!!! be careful of sharps and naturals! they can mess you up if you dont look at the sign like this # at be beginning of the song.

all notes in this scale are half-notes. the sign at the end tells you to repeat the scale again, in the scale, f and c are sharped

Step 9: HOORAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Your First Song!

Picture of HOORAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!      Your First Song!

now we will play a basic song. it is called Mountain climbing ("she'll be comin round the mountain" with an intro and an end really) note that you sharp f but not c in the song. the basic rules will be pointed out in the song. play it slow at first, then go faster when you think you got it.

NOTE: there are special rules throughout the song not talked about in the 'ible mainly rest and bow lift. a rest is one beat of silence. a bow lift has a rest but you also lift the bow up and put the other end on the string. a bow lift signal is an apostrophe over the rest symbol

Step 10: Coming Soon...

now, you've played one song. next year, part 2 will come because there are rules I don't know about yet. this is a just a basic guide. and here's the way the song sounds below


MatinO (author)2016-11-16

love it

slushy_Princess (author)2016-10-21

2 fingers on the g & c strings are not nonsense notes. They're flats.

lynnfiorante (author)2014-08-23

Cello is more of a instrument to take lessons if you want to be good and not as much of a teach your self instrument this causes problems down the road

lynnfiorante (author)2014-08-23

You should fix your bow it is not strait with the bridge

Noodle93 (author)2008-05-26

Cello doesn't strike me as a spur of the moment, teach yourself instrument. But good initiative.

Higgs Boson (author)Noodle932012-02-03

I agree. If you want to play well it takes a good deal of dedication, and there is no replacement for daily practice and a good teacher. Good instructable though. As a cellist, I appreciate seeing others interested.

iamtoats (author)Noodle932010-09-03

Of course you can teach yourself. I taught myself guitar. It took longer than most people, but I'm pretty awesome now. Arch Enemy and August Burns Red and such... It helps to have played another stringed instrument. I played Violin.

audience (author)2010-10-16

i think you skipped ahead to intermediate level after the holding the bow part, because I am still lost. I appreciate the info and attempt to give a lesson, but I am a novice cello player. I don't know where to place my fingers on the strings to play these notes. guitars have frets, but cellos don't which makes it hard.

iamtoats (author)2010-09-03

I think you should mention that you should hold the bow with your right hand. Is the picture describing bow grip reversed? Because you are playing righty in the picture. There's nothing wrong with playing left handed of course, but instruments will be more expensive, hard to find, and transferring to other string instruments like guitar will be difficult.

peach_fart (author)2010-07-11

you might want to revise this section to include triplets, 16th notes, 6-tuplets, 32nd notes, what a dot next to the note means, and slurs and ties.

peach_fart (author)2010-07-11

wrong. the beat depends on the bpm and time signature. in standard 4/4 time signature at 120 bpm, a half note is 1 second. at 60 bpm the quarter note is one second. in 7/8, 5/8, 12/8 time signature at 120 the eighth note is then 1 second.

kylerake (author)2009-11-24

Renting first is a good choice. I recommend this often to others. Beginners on the cello should learn proper cello care first. Purchasing a cheap cello will increase your chances of giving up.

Bartboy (author)2009-08-24

UMmm... what? Are you Mike?

nexx892 (author)2009-07-09

Honestly you really need to clean up your tone I've been playing for 8 months. And I went to Beginner to top band... We can play dragon hunter fast with good tone... Nice try though.

cvillewill (author)2009-05-07

One's height has very little to do with cello size. The size of the left hand is what is more important in determining the size needed. Most stores that sell stringed instruments should be able to fit you. Unless of course you happen to buy your instrument at Target (No lie, I saw a violin there for $100 there once *Facepalm*)

samshoes (author)2008-09-09

The second finger on C is E flat, and on G is B flat. These are not "nonsense notes" and can be very useful. Consider revising this instructable once you have a little more experience, or possible asking someone with more experience (possibly whoever is teaching you cello) to look at it. This is a really good concept, just needs a little work.

Toaster Sunshine (author)2008-07-11

@coolz: Regarding beats, I wonder if there is confusion regarding the distinction between beats and tempo. A beat is a quarter note within a measure, and the tempo is how closely spaced together those quarter notes are in time (speed of notes). If that doesn't help, let me know. Also, regarding bowings, I like to practice bowing with a really, really light bow. I feel that if I can control a really light bow at great speed accurately, I can do the same with a heavier bow. To this end I have a carbon-fiber bow (from a company called Incredibows, which, I know, is corny) that weighs perhaps 15g and a wooden bow that weighs about 30g.

theburn7 (author)2008-06-18

ru gorillazmiko?

coolz (author)theburn72008-06-18

no. then again, i could be lying...

theburn7 (author)coolz2008-06-19

ru lying?

coolz (author)theburn72008-06-19

maybe... gorillazmiko always messes people's minds

Metal4God (author)coolz2008-06-27

but gorillazmiko likes knex

coolz (author)Metal4God2008-06-27

Im the opposite of Gorillazmiko, right

Lithium Rain (author)theburn72008-06-19

ROFLOL, my theory has taken...

Toaster Sunshine (author)2008-06-06

It should be noted that there are lots of notes in the Western tones just in the first position on cello. From half position through first position (though I usually just stretch my first finger back into half position without moving the rest of my hand out of first) on the C string you've got C (no fingers pressed), C#/Db, D, D#/Eb, E, F, and F# (this requires stretching your pinky just a little bit out of first position into second and/or third positions). As far as beats go, it could indeed be 2 seconds for basic beginner's songs (sorry, I'm self taught so don't know what most instructors do), but I generally don't play anywhere near that slow. Beats are usually expressed in beats per minute (bpm), and can go from 40 to 300, as in one of the Haydn London Trios (~60-70bpm) to Bach's "Double Violin Concerto in D Minor" (~200bpm).

PKM (author)2008-06-05

"If you play 2 fingers on the 2 low strings, you will play nonsense notes"

What- like D# and G#? Those are only "nonsense notes" (great phrase by the way) if you are (IIRC) playing in a major key that doesn't include them, but you might want to play them in a piece in a different key. I think in general you could go into a little more detail about sharps/naturals, but it gets a bit involved and this is presumably meant to be a beginner Instructable.

Good effort, though.

coolz (author)PKM2008-06-05

if they weren't nonsense notes they would be e# and b#

PKM (author)coolz2008-06-05

Erm- there is no E#, E# would be F. I think you mean E flat (Eb) and B flat (Bb). The note between D and E is definitely D sharp (D#), but the one on the G string should be A#. I'm assuming here that 2 fingers is three semitones, given 1 finger is two semitones and 3 fingers is four semitones.

coolz (author)PKM2008-06-05

this is not piano

PKM (author)coolz2008-06-06

Maybe not, but that doesn't change the definition of a sharp or a semitone. If I've misunderstood what you meant by "2 fingers on the first string" then let me know, but there is definitely an acceptable note (on a chromatic scale) between D and E.

Sergeant Crayon (author)2008-05-26

"basically, a beat is 2 seconds."

Not necessarily. A beat can be as long as you want it to be. Usually at the top of your music there will be a number (ie: 112) or a work like Moderato. This determines how long each beat is. The number represents how many beats per minute are played. (60=sixty beats/minute.) The words aren't as mathematical, but from slowest to fastest there are:
Largo, Larghet, Adagio, Andante, Moderato, Allegro, Presto and Prestissimo.
(Excuse me if I forgot some)

coolz (author)Sergeant Crayon2008-05-27

a 2 second beat is for basic songs. I will tell you about this in part 2 of the 'ible which will be coming in a year fro the post date which will be may 25, 2009

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