Cello and Violin?Musically insane?

September 9, 2006 at 05:29 AM · I have always wanted to play the cello because of its natural position, its powerful sound and its low notes. However i started to play the violin because the cello is too expensive. But now my parents are willing to support me because they know that i really want to learn how to play this instrument. My questions is: Will my bowing techniques be mixed up if i play the cello and violin at the same time?

Some musicians have told me about this situation. Regardless of this, i still want to play the cello because i like it and i am willing to dedicate myself to both instruments. What should I do?Pleas help me clear this out!

Replies (29)

September 9, 2006 at 06:00 AM · Greetings,

well, Milstein played both...



September 9, 2006 at 05:46 AM · Well beginning cellos aren't too much more expensive than most violins. You can get a beginners cello for about $500. And though I don't personally play cello I know friends that do.

In cello you start shifting at a very early age, usually in the first lesson book. Very different from violin where you don't learn shifting for years.

Also the cello is used for a lot of pizz, not as much as the bass but I have seen cellos' in professional orchestras pizzacato for a whole piece.

Also the span that you will have to have your fingers at for playing the cello is a lot farther spread out than violin. When playing both instruments you might get confusd by this.

Also on the Cello the string orentation is not G D A E, it is set up more like a viola and the strings are sequentially C G D A.

Also on the Cello you read from the bass clef, If you play piano than this is no problem at all.

Believe it or not, the bow is actually shorter on a cello than it is on a violin, but I am not sure about your question of bowings.

Now I am not telling you not to play the cello or the violin, I am just trying to give you facts/differences between the two so you can make a decision. Hope it helps!

September 9, 2006 at 07:06 AM · I'm sorry, I didn't answer your initial question lol, no I don't think that it is insane, just might be a little akward until you get used to them. Do you think playing the violin and tuba is insane lol?

September 9, 2006 at 07:22 AM · Perlman plays both too.

September 9, 2006 at 10:32 AM · Itzhak Perlman plays both? Wow I didn't know that.

September 9, 2006 at 11:22 AM · I played both. I started on the violin, and after 3 years, took up the cello. Yes things are different, though not confusing enough to get insane! I found playing cello more easy than violin, and eventually gave up the violin in favour of the cello after 2 years. I can still play the violin now, though vibrato's gone for some reason!?

September 9, 2006 at 11:45 AM · Well yeah i understand u're a bit puzzle about this question.. I've been playing the cello since i'm 4, but a few years ago i decided to try the violin too because i really love this instrument.. Though i've stopped now, because i haven't enough time to practise, especially because i also play the piano..

I think cello is more difficult: it require a lot of sensitivity but also some strengh.. I don't mean that you have to be strong not at all, but it's a question of perfect bowing to use the weight of the arm to produce the sound.

Though i know many people who play both.. You should try i think it's personal.

In my opinion, these 2 instruments are mostly similar, but there are also many different things, though.. Especially 4 the right hand.

Hope i can help..

oh yes about the price, i also think you can find a cello not too expensive ;) Have u already found something?

September 9, 2006 at 12:49 PM · String centre carries a cello for I believe $380. Not a bad price. But also a better instrument tend to encourage. From my personally opinion (not a cellist, but a violinist) I think that the instruments are equaly matched in difficulty. I mean the violin I think is the easier instrument, but then in orchestras the violins are given parts that go upto sometimes 12th position (unfortunettaly I have seen this, and had to play this lol). And then they are given super fast passages consistentally. The cello's usually have a slower an easier part in the orchestra compared to a violin. But I am not at all saying that their parts are easy.

September 10, 2006 at 01:10 AM · I am learning both the cello and violin at the same time. It can be difficult to start with as you naturally tend to play with the same finger spacing’s for semitones/tones as the violin but soon learn that you need a different finger than just moving one up. Plus the bass clef can be a little confusing if you have not read it before as for a start the open strings are on the lines, but with that said they can compliment each other with improvement on one can come through with the other.

As far as the bow hold, the cello has a few different holds and when going from one instrument to another they do not mess each other up. The thing that does mess up is playing the violin straight after the cello when you are used to playing with big finger spacing’s. It takes a little bit to click into the small finger spacing’s.

These are some of the other things that I have experienced but I am sure that everyone would find other things that would be easier or harder.

It is easier to get the bowing dynamics and different bowing types on the cello but it is a lot harder to cross the strings quickly whilst holding fingers down. A lot more comfortable with seating/holding position but can be tiring on the upper arms to start with. Positions are a necessity from the start but I find it easier to find the intonation.

These are the first things that come to my mind but hey you may find that it is other things. The best thing is playing both is a lot of fun and I would not give either up.

Good Luck!

September 10, 2006 at 04:51 PM · Thank you very much eveyone!!I have decided that i will give it a shot and learn how to play both instuments. Thanx for being so supportive!I would appreciate if all of you post more comments about this situation.

September 10, 2006 at 04:54 PM · Cello and violin seems to be a very common combination as I see from many peoples posts here. Now if you were going to say violin and trombone there is where you might start discourage and or give you wierd looks... except me lol ;).

September 10, 2006 at 07:10 PM · I played the cello for a couple of years about 15 years ago. You're not insane by any means! I loved playing, and I keep looking at some of those ebay cellos and wondering if I should drop a couple hundred on something that I'll never have time to practice...

The bow grip is different, due to the different playing position. The fingers are more curled around the stick in order to support its weight against gravity -- otherwise the bow would slide down the cello strings and fall off at the bridge! With the violin, of course, the strings are basically horizontal, so we can hold the bow from the top without worrying. I found that my violin bow grip did change slightly, but really in doing so it became more relaxed.

Don't worry about the shifting -- it comes pretty naturally, since it's a necessity on the cello. The semitone spacing is much wider, so you end up using the fourth finger where you'd use the third on the violin, and the third is used on the cello like a high second finger on the violin. Scales take some getting used to, but once I got accustomed to the fingering I never had a problem confusing it.

The hardest thing for me was reading music in different clefs, actually. I've always read music based on the instrument -- i.e., this note on this line is this finger on this string in this position. Therefore there was an extra translation step when learning the tenor clef -- I had to look at the note, think of the note name, then remember where the note name fell on the fingerboard.

That didn't stop me from winning second chair in the cello section, though. And it didn't stop me from learning the viola, either. :)

September 10, 2006 at 07:44 PM · yah but if you play piano it would be much better and less confusing. When I started tuba I already knew how to read bass clef so that was so problem...

September 10, 2006 at 08:50 PM · Yeah, some teachers are telling me to learn the piano instead because i will get less confused, but i always tell them that i am not interested in piano. I prefer to play the cello.

I don't find a problem in reading with the bass clef.Besides, pianists can read both clefs and at the same time!So I think i will get used to it as I practice.

September 11, 2006 at 12:26 AM · Im sorry, I should clear that up. I didn't mean if you play piano instead of cello. I am saying it would be a lot easier to play the cello if you knew piano, sry bout that.

September 11, 2006 at 12:48 AM · ooo thats ok. Thanx for the comment anyway. The intention of helping me out is what counts. So thank you.

September 11, 2006 at 02:49 AM · I started learning the cello a few months ago, but now it's stopped because I don;t have much time and I'm dedicating it on the violin... but I started the violin because I wasn't aware that other instruments like cellos existed (our school didn't have orchestras). But after hearing the cello, I fell in love with it, but my parents were against it since they spent much time and money already on the violin stuff... but personally, I think it's definitely possible, except I'm not sure how it'll be as you advance more in both instruemnts. I'm just a beginner on the cello, but I got all the basics down ok, the hand positions, bow grip and everything. But I heard from our school orch director a few years ago (who was an amazing cellist but started learning the violin also) that her cello teacher has been noticing that her cello vibrato and left hand position was becoming a little weird because as she was getting more advanced on the violin... so I don't know... as long as you don't try to get really really advanced technically on the cello, you'll be fine on both instruments... good luck!

September 11, 2006 at 04:06 AM · Well I have heard that a lot of string instrument teachers in schools know all 4 instruments, and in some colleges this is a requirment. I know that My band teacher knows how to play every instrument in the band, his college required this. So I know it def. inst impossible

September 11, 2006 at 04:24 AM · Greetings,

Richard which colleges wdo you know having all four string instruments as a requirement?

The closest I kmnow of is the excellent but rather traditional requirement that violinists be required to study to study viola.

I would think a college that demnands four basically has no standards or no sense of what is required of today`s instrumentalists to have even the faintest hope of a career.



September 11, 2006 at 03:26 PM · I know of a college that requires of all four stringed instruments be played. Its music department is not, in my opinion, the best.

September 11, 2006 at 10:38 PM · oh there are some suny (what they call New york State universities) colleges that required students that were going to be orchestra teachers to learn all four. And my band teacher was required to learn the fingerings for all the band instruments.

September 11, 2006 at 10:44 PM · Greetings,

that`s interesting. Sounds like a recipe for absolute mediocrity.

Incidentally, this is not a dig at you at all. You@re just the guy telling me interesting stuff;)

But, Personally I have found that the -principles- of how string instruments work (bow speed/contact point/ pressure/ no akward looking joints)plus reading a few books written by cellists ;playign chamber music and in orchestras give s all the necessary background. I coach orchestras from age five up until semi professional level not being able to play cello or double bass or know a damn thing about flute fingering.

Of course these teachers (?)have to study the piano as well right? So the maximum they are doing on any insturment per day is about one hour(not likely). Load of bloody rubbish.

Maybe this is just a quirky bugbear of somebody who has spent to many hours drunk in rice fields, but it is soemthign I belive in pasisonately: if you are in charge of kids you -cannot- offer them something average or half arsed. They know!!!!

If you are going to stand up in front of kids, be it a private lesson or orchestra, and insist on unanimity of bowing, use of the heel, smooth bow changes, perfect insonation, beautiful phrasing etc etc then one had better be able to demonstarte such stuff perfectly to the nth degree. There are no excuses and somebody who believes sloppy grounding in an instrument and not enough fundamentals practiced every day for x number of years is the way to go is not fit to either stand in front of any group or run an institute that trains such people.

Prunes, prunes, I need prunes


September 11, 2006 at 11:51 PM · could u guys stop arguing...

September 12, 2006 at 01:18 AM · Excuse me Carlos, but if that comment is addressed to me I respectfully request you read things a little more carefully. It is a real nuisence when people don`t bother , especially when others are taking the time to explore the topic that they initiated.

I am not arguing with Richard. he is telling me interesting stuff and I am commenting on it forcibly becuase I strongly believe it is wrong. Richard has not presented any strong opinion on the topic for better or worse yet. If he chooses to do so I may, or may not disagree with him according to what I want to do.

Incidentally, given that I have the utmost respect for Richard , even if I argue with him I will still be within the bounds of what is acceptable on this list. It is only offensive, personal attacks, irrelevancy , bigotary and the like whicch need to be censored. Your comment comes well under the rubric of irrelevency.

September 12, 2006 at 05:40 AM · well...i apologize. If you want to make your comment and defend what you believe, that is fine with me. The only problem is that we are getting out of track and you guys are not answering my initial question. The reason why i joined this website is to know more about this topic in general. I really want to know if i could learn how to play the cello at the same time with the violin without having problems that will affect my bowing techniques. And if i have problems, how can I manage to solve them.Forgive me if i offended you or something but i dont like to have problems with others.

September 12, 2006 at 06:33 AM · Of course nothing short of physically sneaking up on someone, putting them in a choke hold, and sticking a knife in their kidney is a "personal attack."

In U.S. colleges that offer an education degree with an emphasis in music, the normal thing is to require a string class, a brass class, a woodwind class, a percussion class, and so on. This enables you to, for example, immediately take charge of a marching band if that's the job you're offered and your instrument was violin. No one claims it means they're Janos Starker or Dorothy DeLay. Call that mediocrity if you want.

Back to the topic, there's nothing wrong with playing both violin and cello. But if you accidently put the cello under your chin, watch out for the end pin.

September 12, 2006 at 07:49 PM · Buri,

To get into a suny school as a music edu. major I believe that there is a min. of 4 years piano experience. I agree with you though, I think it is stupid to have to learn all four of them because they all use the same basic principals. But this is also the reason that they are a state school.

But I do see where a band(wind) teacher would need to know the fingerings (not nessisarly can play it well) of the instruments because that is criticle to be able to teach the instruments.

Personally I don't beleive that attention should be drawn away from your main instrument when you are a music major.

September 12, 2006 at 10:41 PM · Greetings,

Richard, yes, piano is essential. Agree with you about fingerings. Sort of like memorizinfg vocabulary lists.



October 6, 2006 at 03:50 AM · I'm surprised that only Patty Rutins mention the difference in fingering. Not the spacing, but the fingering itself. I used to play cello (very well) and it took me many months of hard work before the violin's fingering felt right. I was always using #4 instead of #3.

What's MUCH harder is switching between violin and guitar. I gave up cello years ago, when I began playing guitar. i just couldn't get used to switching between fourths and fifths (string spacing.) Not too hard if you are only reading music, but if you are improvising then it does a real number on the noggin. Some folks manage to do this well, such as Mark O'Connor, but it takes a lot of work.

Now that I'm playing both violin and guitar, and improvising on both (I produce pop music) it has become quite a challenge.

As far as the other points regarding violin vs cello, I wouldn't worry at all. Finger SPACING is so different that there is little chance of getting confused, it's more liek speaking two languages. Bow hold, while different, is very easy to switch. A cello hold feels correct with a cello bow, while a violin hold (Russian is what i prefer) feels correct with that bow. I have never had a problem confusing the two.

One thing that IS tough is getting used to where the notes are. Again, if all you do is read classical music, this is not horrible. If, however, you intend to improvise, you will need to dedicate quite some time to this. You need to know what note you are playing at all times, and how that note relates to the music as a whole, and this is of course different on each instrument.

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