August 4, 2022

About the Author: Evie Coplan

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.

Anyone has the ability to learn the cello but the journey will be far smoother and more fun with the right tuition. The cello is not an easy instrument to learn and technique is very important in order to be able to play with ease and create the sound you desire. Having a weekly lesson with the same teacher will ensure you are on the right track and they will be able to evaluate your progress week in week out which is fundamental to getting to a good standard.

male hands playing the cello

Online Videos

Many students arrive at their first lesson at the LCI saying they have watched videos online about how to play the cello, which is great that they are so keen to get playing. However, there are many different methods of teaching and technique so this can complicate your learning. Anyone can post a video online and you need to be careful to find credited teachers that will teach you proper technique which is why having an in-person 1-1 teacher is best as you will meet them and can check their qualifications. If you are watching a video you cannot ask questions which is a fundamental aspect of learning. Often, new technical concepts need to be explained in a few different ways in order to be fully understood.

With a 1-1 teacher they can approach the concept from a different angle in order for you to fully grasp an aspect of technique, but with a video you cannot get that deeper level of understanding. When learning the cello it’s very important to be able to hear your teacher play as you need to know what kind of sound to aim for and it’s inspiring to hear your teacher play and it will motivate you to practice and strive to play brilliantly. With online videos you can only grasp so much from the teachers playing as the sound gets compressed through speakers, therefore you cannot fully hear the intricacies of the sound they are producing.

female cellist playing the cello

The Benefits Of Having A Teacher

The beauty of having a 1-1 teacher is that they can completely tailor lessons to you. A great teacher will analyse how you learn and adapt their teaching methods to suit you and the way that you learn. With a 1-1 teacher you build a relationship where you can completely trust them which allows you to play at your best in lessons and be calm enough to absorb everything they are teaching you. Feeling like you can talk openly to your teacher is fundamental to your learning. Asking questions and not feeling inhibited to do so will allow you to progress much faster than watching someone in a video explain an aspect of playing over and over again. We all perceive things differently, especially with such abstract concepts such as sound so you need to hear things explained in different ways a lot of the time.

When first learning about how to position your right and left arms if can be rather confusing as we don’t have our arms in these positions in our day to day life. Having an in person teacher means that they can physically help you correct your position; this can really help speed up the process of understanding a position as you can immediately feel what you are supposed to be doing. The structure and regularity of weekly 1-1 lessons is ideal for learning the cello. By turning up every week you are creating a habit and consciously committing to your learning. Having your weekly lesson scheduled in your diary also allows you to properly prepare for your lesson in order to get the most out of it, whereas you can watch a video any time and not be fully invested in learning at that time.

male hands playing the cello

You Are Your Own Teacher

As crazy as it might sound, you will always be your own teacher. In your individual practice time between your weekly lessons you need to use this time to consolidate what your teacher has told you in your lesson and you will need to determine whether you are doing things correctly. You know yourself the best and when you are practicing you are by yourself with no inhibitions so you have the luxury to make all the mistakes you need in a safe space. When you are practicing you should be constantly analysing what you are doing technically and how to improve your playing. Make sure that you do not get fixated with the immediate sound of the cello, instead cast your ears to the other side of the room and listen objectively like your teacher, this way you will stay focused on the sound which is what really matters. Practicing in front of a full length mirror will allow you to see your technique clearly as your teacher sees it. When practicing, keep your head up and keep checking everything is in the right place, the more often you do this, the more you will ingrain great technique at a fast pace.

If you have the option to take in person lessons then get going with it and sign up! When you start your in person lessons you will see a substantial difference in the pace of your progress and the process of learning will be far more enjoyable as you can be reassured that your teacher will get you to the level that you desire. However, it’s important to remember that you must always be your own teacher outside of your lesson, this way you will learn a lot faster and will stay curious about cello playing.

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