Evie Coplan is a cello teacher at The London Cello Institute. She has a passion for sharing her love for the cello with adults who play for their own pleasure. She is also an enthusiastic performer both in solo and orchestra format.
So you’ve got your cello and you’ve booked your first cello lesson… but do you need anything else?
It’s not always obvious what you may need before starting your cello lessons so. This article aims to break down everything you need to know before starting your lessons and go through all the other things you may need besides a cello.
Most people have absolutely no idea where to look to get their cello, and understandably so. For a student cello it’s best to go to a trusted string shop where you can purchase a well made new cello. I would strongly suggest avoiding buying second hand from Gumtree or any auction unless you have someone with you who knows what to look for. In London we are lucky to have many incredible string shops such as Stringers of London, JP Guivier & Co, Bishops Instruments and Bows and Bridgewood & Neitzert. These string shops all hire and sell cellos and bows, so the best thing to do is give them a ring and make an appointment to look at their cellos.
Renting a cello is a great idea when you’re a beginner and unsure as to what you want from your cello. However, buying a cello is an investment and you can always sell your instrument to upgrade it further down the line. To rent a cello in London it should be roughly between £25-40 a month depending on the quality of the instrument. A decent student cello can cost anywhere between £800-1K, but make sure you get your teacher’s opinion to make sure the cello has been valued at a fair price.
Most student cellos are sold with a bow at no extra cost, however sometimes you may want/need to get a separate bow. The bow is incredibly important and can make an outstanding difference to your experience of learning the cello as it is crucial to the sound production. Bows need maintenance so don’t forget to purchase some rosin when you buy your cello as this will ensure the hair on the bow is gripping the string when you play. Depending on how much you play, you should need to rosin your bow anywhere from 2-5 times a week. Bows also need rehairing when the hair is getting old and falling out so make sure you keep an eye on it.
If you’re buying a cello student outfit, you will most likely be given your cello and bow in a ‘soft’ case as these are less pricey and lighter than ‘hard’ cello cases. If you are only travelling with your cello to your lesson once a week a soft case is sufficient at first. However, if you plan on joining an amateur orchestra thus involving travelling with your cello a bit more, a hard case would be a good option as they are far more protective to knocks and British weather! Hard cases can vary a lot, the lightest ones are made from Carbon Fibre and come with a price tag of over 1K, the heavier cases come with a much lower price tag but be aware that these cases are far heavier and uncomfortable if you are travelling around with it a lot.
You will need a music stand from your first cello lesson. A fold up stand is useful so you can put it away and take it to rehearsals. However, if you have a designated practice space/room and you don’t rehearse or practice away from home, a good strong stand, often known as an ‘orchestral’ stand would be a good option as they are very sturdy and last much longer than a folding stand. You may also want to get a cello stand so that you can have your cello out all the time, cellos also make great living room furniture!
If you’ve got stone or wooden floors, the chances are you don’t want hundreds of little holes in it, so make sure you purchase a good spike protector. There are lots of different types, the most reliable is something that attaches to the legs of a chair as you can be sure these won’t slip when you’re playing. You can find an array of spike protectors on websites such as String Zone or Gear4Music.
Full Length Mirror
This one may surprise a lot of people, but a full length mirror is going to be an invaluable tool for your practice. Practicing in front of a mirror allows you to see what you’re doing far clearer than looking down at what you’re doing. You will become your own picky teacher in no time with this practice technique.
All this information may seem a little daunting, however do not worry as your teacher will guide you through the relevant information and make the process go very smoothly so that you can enjoy every moment of starting your cello journey.