From Oliver Bedford
Posted October 13, 2007 at 05:51 AM
Is it possible to be a satisfactory violinist and cellist at the same time, or is this made very difficult by the fact that everything is done the other way round, let alone the sheer difference in size?
My teacher was a conservatory trained pianist who studied violin in high school and took up the cello in college. He is a very fine cellist and now teaches it exclusively (some of us are grandfathered). . His students are quite outstanding. I recently heard several of them in solo and ensemble music including Tchaikovsky's Rococco Variation, The Schumann Concerto, The Ravel Pino Trio etc.
Yes I think one can do well on the cello as an adult.
I did it! Sight reading some Haydn and Mozart cello parts. Of course I had worked on the cello a lot in those 10 days, first reading my violin music (transposing the treble celf down an octave - and then reading some cello music that I got my hands on.
Then I started cello lessons within a month and joined the community orchestra as a cellist (sitting next to my teacher), while also playing violin (during daylight hours) as concertmaster in my high school orchestra.
I continued cello lessons for 30 months - until my cello teacher disappeared (never to return). By then I'd made it through the Haydn D-major cello concerto and the Bruch Kol Nidrei - and similar works.
I have continued to play both instruments in orchestras, in smaller ensembles, and as a sometime amateur soloist since then (56 years since my last formal lesson).
It can be done. - and it certainly enriches one's retirement years. Just add some viola playing too and the world will always hyave a use for you.
For me, sight reading came from doing a real lot of it. I still have trouble sight reading viola parts (but I've only done about 70 hours of that in total).
My cello teacher used to play violin in cello position (the way Jackie Du Pre did when fooling around on the Schubert Trout Quintet video). I did that sort of thing a bit too, but I noticed when I tried it 10 or 20 years later, if I sight read in cello position I read the music as a cellist (whatever the clef) - even if I was holding a violin, but if I put the instrument under my "chin" then I automatically sight read as a violinist. That surprised me - and has held true to this day. Obviously, I don't put a cello under my chin - but it helps me understand why it so strains my brain to play viola - I have to think when I do it.
I hope you are prepared for the ensuing flood of viola jokes...;)
BUT, it took me quite a while to develop the physical strength required for the cello. Playing quartets after a few weeks would have been out of the question for me, as my left hand just couldn't take that much cello per day.
I loved my cello time, and if I was to start from scratch on an instrument, that would be the one.
As others have said, it's totally do-able. I was a fine cellist long ago, and am now learning violin. I also play guitar and electric bass. You would think all those different scale lengths would be problematic, but somehow the brain learns where to put the fingers.
I also had no problem with the note reading, though I expected I would.
However, be aware that many (most,actually) elements of violin will not directly tranfer. The bow-hold is very different. The bow ANGLE is different (top away from you vs top towards you)
Left-hand hold is of course very different, esp where you place the thumb. Have a teacher show you that, if nothing else.
The vibrato is incredibly different, though cello vibrato is much easier than violin vibrato, so it may not be a great challenge for you. Going from cello to violin was quite difficult.
One more tip: When switching to cello, there is a clear-cut answer to one ubiquitous question found around these forums: Definitely do NOT use a shoulder rest! (g)
Which reminds me of this question: Imagine you were stranded in a parched desert. In the distance you see an oasis, a great violist and a bad violist. Which one do you walk to?
The bad violist, because the other two are mirages.
Actually, that's not really true, but that's the rep.
Now, as a junior, I am the assistant concertmaster of our highest group, the associate concertmaster of our chamber group. I am also first chair cellist for the lower group, but I am the only person taking a cello solo to state next weekend. My violin solo is also going. I am now one of the leading cellists and violinists in my area (student wise).
If you put in the effort, it can happen. I will be attending Ball State for Music Education in Fall 2014.
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