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Thoughts about the posture

Are you sitting right? Do you have pain in your neck or back? Or are you suffering from RSI? Well, you are not alone.
A comfortable playing position is in my opinion one of the most important topics for every cellist. Not only for a beginner. The search for an optimal body alignment continues throughout the first years of learning. Even advanced players must evaluate their sitting position from time to time and check if it’s still good. So let’s not forget about it.

Fortunately almost all cello methods, tutorials, books, and papers mention this issue. So check what advice your coursebook gives you, it might slightly differ from what I am about to say here. However, the principles remain the same.

Why is a good posture so important?

As with almost any human activity, which requires repetitive motions of some parts of the body and a fixed position of other parts, there is big possibility of tiredness, overuse or even injury. It happens only if we keep going while ignoring the signals coming from our body. Office workers know this as repetitive strain injury (RSI) is often addressed; sitting positions, the height of the desk and the chair are adjusted, etc. Nobody wants to work in pain for hours, similarly we don’t want to play an instrument when everything starts to hurt. To avoid any discomfort, we should pay close attention to our posture.

What is the best cello posture?

Principles of good position with the cello should actually begin without the instrument. Let’s become aware of our posture while standing or sitting. Good in this case means balanced, avoiding unnecessary tensions but at the same time active.

Do you know yoga or tai chi? Then you are familiar with the idea of grounded feet, soft knees and your head freely balanced on your neck – as if your head was suspended on an imaginary string attached to the ceiling.

The same applies to our sitting position: grounded feet and sitting bones, upright back and balanced head. There is a difference between total relaxation of the body and a posture that is free of tension, but alert and poised for action at the same time.

The chair

A good chair is extremely important! The chair should be slanted downwards, so that the knees are a little bit lower than the hips. It decreases tension between the hips and upper tights and allows the torso to bend slightly forward. Now you may be thinking where to get such a chair. Most often if chairs are slanted, they are slanted backwards. So the best is to get a chair that has a flat seat and use a stiff, slanted cushion. You can get one from Telemann or Amazon.

The posture with the cello

We should consider that a cello is a pretty big instrument. It has to fit somehow in front of you, between your knees. The principal rule is that you should adjust the instrument to yourself, not the other way around.

For now put the cello on its side next to your chair. Sit on the edge of the chair with your legs wide and feet flat on the ground. Relax your shoulders and neck. Bring the cello to yourself, the neck of the instrument on the left side of your head, and the upper bout pointing to the middle of your sternum. The teacher will now adjust the length of the end pin and the strap.

Notice how you feel. Take your time. Allow yourself to embrace the instrument. The first step is done, you’ve just sat with the cello, ready to play. Congratulations!

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Where to find a cello

There are several ways to go about getting a musical instrument. If you’re not certain about whether you or your child really wants to play, maybe renting one is the answer. It’s an alternative to buying one and is a great way to get acquainted with the instrument without spending too much right away. Keep in mind the different sizes for different ages.

Buying a cello

You can buy a cello in a shop with musical instruments, but there are also violin makers who can make one for you. As your cello teacher, I can assist you in making the right choice. It is necessary to try the instrument beforehand, so that you can hear the sound and feel if it is comfortable to play. If you plan to buy one online, make sure to check the return policy. Of course, you can also buy a second-hand cello from Marktplaats or Tweedehands.net.

Renting a cello

I would recommend you to rent the instrument from a local violin maker. These instruments are of good quality and are individually checked and prepared by them. There are many violin makers in Den Haag, below you can find their addresses and links to the websites of those who provide instrument rental. Usually the instrument you rent will come with a bow and a cello case.

Katharina Meierott
Laan van Meerdervoort 232A
2563 AH Den Haag
http://www.meierott.nl/instruments.html

Boomsma & Koizumi V.O.F.
Cantaloupenburg 32
2514 KM Den Haag
http://www.boomsmakoizumi.com/nl/

Strijkinstrumentenshop
Van Weede van Dijkveldstraat 93
2582 KT Den Haag
http://www.strijkinstrumentenshop.nl/verhuur/cello-huren.html

Willem Bouman & Zn.
Herenstraat 12 B
2511 EA Den Haag
http://www.willembouman.nl/

Tomoko Koizumi
Maliestraat 13 B
2514 CA Den Haag
http://www.haagschevioolencello.com/

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What do I need to play the cello?

To learn to play the cello a number of items are needed. Of course the most important is a cello and a bow. There are some more things which are basic necessities.

For an introductory lesson, no instrument or other items are needed. To continue, you will need to obtain a cello in order to be able to practice at home.

Cello

Cello_front_side

It is possible to buy or rent the instrument from local violin makers. I can assist with choosing the right cello and bow. There are different sizes of cellos depending on the student age. In case of kids the instrument has to be of a good size, a general guide to follow is:

  • From 4 to 5 years of age use an one-eight cello
  • From 6 to 7 years of age use an one-fourth cello
  • From about 7 to 10 years of age use a half-size cello
  • From about 11 to 13 years of age use a three-quarter cello
  • From 14 years of age and over use a full-size instrument

Cello bow

cello bow

Much more than just a fiddlestick with horse hair, the bow is necessary to make sound on the cello. A good bow has to match the cello size and the player’s hand. Selecting the right bow is an art by itself. The types differ considerably, from the shape of the tip on the one end to the frog on the other end. Keep your bow in good shape by loosening the hair when putting it away.

Music stand

muziek standaard

To hold the sheet music you will need a music stand. There are various types of stands, most modern ones are made out of a lightweight metal and can be easily folded. The stand may have different features, such as wire-extensions and retainers. The quality and prices vary greatly, choose one depending on the purpose (to travel with, or to keep at home for practice).

Cello strap

cello pinhouder

The strap is used to secure the position of the cello, so it doesn’t slip away. It attaches under the leg of a chair, and the cello endpin can then rest in the holder. This item is also crucial to prevent damage to your floor.

Rosin

cello hars

Rosin is a hard and slightly sticky substance produced from pine and used to treat the bow hair. It increases the friction and thereby the grip on the strings. It is an essential item for all string players.

Cloth

cello cloth

Have a cloth in your case to wipe off any rosin powder spilled on the instrument. Make sure the cloth is soft so that you do not scratch the lacquer. Any microfiber cloth will do the trick.

Cello case

cello case

The case is a must have to protect your instrument. Most often, it is included with the cello when renting it.

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The Joy of Learning to Play a Musical Instrument

Always wanted to learn a musical instrument?  You are at the right place!

Never too old

old man and boy learning google images

You can start learning to play a musical instrument at any age. Children and adults learn in different ways, there are separate learning methods which are tailored to the age.

Reading music notes

Music notes by /Casper
Music notes by /Casper

You don’t necessarily need to know musical notation. You will learn it step-by-step while getting to know the instrument.

Everyone is musical

brain-music-color

Whether you consider yourself musical or not, you should know that all of us are. In fact, the neural pathways in the brain that language uses are first laid down by rhythm and musicality.

Increased concentration and coordination

home work routine by wwworks
Home work routine by woodleywonderworks

Playing a musical instrument is a valuable skill. Both children and adults can boost their ability to concentrate as well as increase their motoric coordination.

Be a proud parent

music-girl-playing-violin

Your child will have a lot of fun playing an instrument and you will be proud watching your kid performing Happy Birthday or a Christmas carol during a family gathering.

Bring satisfaction

The-McKim-Family-by-andrearosephotography_mod
The McKim Family by Andrea Rose

Playing musical instrument has many benefits and can bring joy to you and everyone around you. Relax from your daily routine and stress. Share your passion with others.

Don’t hesitate and give it a try!

Paulina

You will see what great satisfaction the first melody you play will give you. Find out more about me, or contact me for more information.