Cello Beginner

Cello Beginner I: Week #1

Week # 1

Hey Everyone,

It was so great to meet you all this week. You all did great! As we mentioned, recaps will go live on the website after every session. It's a good way to help remember what we did and will help keep you up to speed in the event that you have to miss a class.

Parts of the Cello and Bow

I've attached a diagram showing the different parts of the cello and the bow. Most of this stuff you will pick up through context in class, but it will be helpful to review this sheet so you know what we are referring to as we go:

Parts of the Cello


Cello hold

We broke down holding the cello into a couple of steps last night. Here's the procedure we went through. Follow the chart and instructions below:

Cello Hold

Left Arm Position

Now that you’re sitting comfortably with your cello, let’s position the left hand on the fingerboard:

  • With your left shoulder relaxed, reach your left arm out in front of you, straight and strong (like a “superman” pose)

  • Curve your hand and fingers, as if you’re holding a soda can (keep your wrist neutral so you pour one out for your homie)

  • With the fingers still curved, bend the elbow and find the thumb and finger stickers on the cello neck with your fingertips. If you need to glance at the stickers that’s fine, but remember to return to a neutral position with your neck, shoulders and back.

  • Keeping the fingers curved, apply pressure with your four fingers while keeping the thumb pressure as light as possible.

  • See image below for reference. This is a great exercise to practice in front of a mirror. Check for curved fingers, a flat wrist, relaxed shoulders, straight head and back.

Left Hand Playing Position

Countdown on the D and A: Pizzicato

We learned to pluck (pizzicato) a left hand warm-up.  Refer to the diagram below for hand shape (minus the bow in hand).

Pizzicato Position

NOTE: While plucking this exercise, don’t worry if the sound is more of a “thump” than a ring; that will develop in time.  What’s important is that your posture, left arm and fingers, and plucking hand form are all correct.  Remember to breathe throughout the exercise and stay relaxed!

  • With all 4 fingers placed on the D, pluck the following pattern:
    4,4,4,4  3,3,3,3,  2,2,2,2  1,1,1,1,  0,0,0,0

  • Repeat on the A string.  

D Major Scale

We learned the D Major Scale on the cello. Scales are really useful musical exercises where you play all 8 notes of any given key in ascending and descending sequential order.  Fingerings and recordings are below. Pluck two notes per fingering:

  • D0 D1 D3 D4 A0 A1 A3 A4 A3 A1 A0 D4 D3 D1 D0


The first recording is with breaks, where I instruct the fingerings as we go.  Feel free to play along with the recording:

When you’re comfortable with the first recording, try the next one. This recording is without instructions and no breaks:


Ginger DoldenComment