Dunn cellist

FAQ

What is the cello?

The cello belongs to the String family of instruments which gives it a special kinship with the violin, viola, and double bass. You may notice that it looks a great deal like the violin, only bigger. If one tried to hold it under the chin, like a violin, one would probably sprain one's neck! Therefore, we hold our instrument between our knees and anchor it into the floor with a long, retractable piece of metal called an endpin.

How does the cello produce sound?

A cellist can make the instrument sound by setting the strings to vibrate by either plucking them, like a harp, strumming them, like a guitar, or drawing the sound out with a bow (basically a big stick with horse hair tied at both ends). The vibrations of the strings are transferred through a wooden pathway into the body of the instrument, which serves as an amplifier. The air inside of the body vibrates and produces a warm, full, tone.

What kind of music can a cellist play?

All kinds! In addition to hundreds of years of tradition as a classical instrument, it has become very common for cellists to play with rock, folk, and jazz bands. When I was in New Orleans, I recorded for a jazz band, and I've played with fiddle players in the Irish and Americana styles as well. For some interesting demonstrations of non-classical cello music, check out on the resources page the website of a colleague of mine, Mike Block, or go on youtube and do a search for the group Apocalyptica.

What age should one be when one begins to learn how to play the cello?

It varies from person to person. About the earliest I've known people to begin instruction on any instrument is age 4, and I would not recommend cello studies any earlier than that. It is very common for young people to begin learning the cello between the ages of 8 and 12, but I have known very highly-skilled professional cellists who did not begin studies until age 16. Then too, I've worked many times with adult students who begin cello lessons in their twenties, thirties, or even forties, and these people find the instrument to be both creative and engaging.

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