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learning cello? effects in violin?
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littleton, Colorado
Regular advisor

March 16, 2016 - 12:59 pm
Member Since: June 21, 2014
Forum Posts: 136
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Ive seriously considered picking up the cello. Im curious from others who have done this, how has it changed your violin playing? 

I play/read piano so reading the notes isnt an issue until i started going through some cello music. I thinkmy fingers might get confused. Open C looks like 1st finger on g to me, is this a major hurdle for others?

Brora, North-east Scotland
March 16, 2016 - 1:57 pm
Member Since: March 22, 2014
Forum Posts: 2607
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I have restrung a standard fiddle as a viola  C3 / G3 / A4 / D4   (not a viola C I tried that, but it was far too low tension compared to the other strings (the original fiddle strings), it's a C intended for a 5-string EV) -  and - apart from some "initial confusion" where the fingers just want to go where they usually go on fiddle ( if you know what I mean ) - within a couple of hours it's straightforward.  The cello I believe is just the same - but another octave down from the viola tuning.

I say it is straightforward - that may depend of course on just exactly how "tightly" a player is "locked-in to reading music off the sheet" and hence the "automatic-once-learned" fingering....  I don't know about that, just conjecture, since once I have a tune familiarized, I just play from memory.   I *do* read sheet (slowly), but rarely play from it, so I don't have that "close relationship" between the scored-notes and finger positions that others may have.

What I have not yet experienced however is the difference in the physical separation distance that's going to occur between semi-tones on either a real viola (and more so for cello)....   I rather suspect if you are happy with finger positions for various keys / scales on violin, and a confident sight-reader it will be no real problem - just get used to the bass clef, and stretch those fingers !   I'm sure you'll be fine !

I seriously recommend not copying my mistakes. D'oh - guntohead.JPG

Please make your own, different mistakes, and help us all learn :-)

King for a Day, Peasant for many

March 17, 2016 - 1:53 am
Member Since: February 13, 2012
Forum Posts: 1814
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I have a NEW electric cello I just finished making and to play it is a dubious exercise at the least for me! LOL

The spacing of the notes is huge compared to a violin or viola. That is the hardest part for me. I keep looking at the phantom frets I burned into the rosewood fingerboard and that takes a lot of getting used to.

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"If you practice with your hands you must practice all day. Practice with your mind and you can accomplish the same amount in minutes." Nathan Milstein

Brora, North-east Scotland
March 17, 2016 - 2:03 am
Member Since: March 22, 2014
Forum Posts: 2607
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Ahh, @cdennyb - there's no stopping you man !   hats_off

Rock On bro'  ! 

I seriously recommend not copying my mistakes. D'oh - guntohead.JPG

Please make your own, different mistakes, and help us all learn :-)

Bragg Creek, Alberta

March 17, 2016 - 10:18 pm
Member Since: March 8, 2015
Forum Posts: 213
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cdennyb: beautiful woodwork!  I am dabbling in cello along with violin and I find that if I play it consistently, my fingers "remember" the spacing, as in the violin mostly.  There is obviously more room for error but it is not too bad, very similar.

Biggest change for me was the music is written with bass clef rather than treble so if I practice cello and then violin in the same evening, my brain gets a bit confused.

Have fun, I love it as a complementary instrument to my fiddle.


March 19, 2016 - 8:06 am
Member Since: February 11, 2014
Forum Posts: 574
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Learning cello:  watch the cello talks series but don't take notes (and don't use rosin as much as he suggests), then listen to the german guy (he's got some good ideas but it's basically learn all 3-octive scales and then speed them up).  The left hand finger stretch is a big deal so you have to work on it, but its do-able.  I have the most trouble with hitting the g on the d string (4th finger).  Strings are very expensive so I bought Jargar for the a-d and helicore for the g-c because they will last for the rest of my life and they sound really good.  The Essential Elements for cello is a good starting book.  If you are going to play both, you must play both.  Staying with cello for a week, will cause stumbling on violin for a day when you return to it, but as always, the more you do the better it will be.

There is no really good place on the net for beginners to talk about cello, so it is my hope that this place will be more active so that we can all learn as we go.  Besides, I like seeing FM pop in from time to time and give some encouragement.

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March 28, 2016 - 4:59 pm
Member Since: March 28, 2016
Forum Posts: 1
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I dont think it will harm you violin play at all.

im actually the opposite of you ,i just ordered a violin and i am going the self taught route.  I played the cello for 8 years when i was younger, but stopped first year college due to a plethora of factors (mostly girls and alcohol).  I was really into it, was lead cellist in stringed orchestra, quartet that went around to different local events/churches/fairs/ etc.. not saying im yoyo ma, but i did look up the the guy.  

Fast forward a decade and here i am trying to relive my youth, except a full sized cello I decided violin due to its portability. So from a cello player, here are things that come to mind...

OP, you said that you play piano so reading the bass notes arent and issue, its just getting used to the fingering as you already stated.  It's all muscle memory in my opinion. 

-Imagine a ball in you palm, the fingerboard is bigger and you going have to use you pinky to reach higher notes.  This helped me keep my fingers extended and move around easily and i never really had hand cramps.

-I slid the tip of my thumb on the back of the neck, dont hold it flat.

Holding the bow is similar, pinky is a closer to the ring finger..well all the fingers are closer to each other... you should be able to handle fine...You're better off than most people because u have prior string experience.  I'm at work right now, gotta wrap this up, but if u have any questions, etc post and ill do my best to respond

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