The violoncello (commonly called "cello") originated in Italy in the sixteenth century. Early cello makers primarily used the Amati design, which had a larger body than the cellos we use today. The cello is the largest member of the violin family still in use and the tenor string voice of the orchestra. It produces a strong, warm tone, and many find the cello more comfortable to play than its smaller cousins. Originally, the instrument was used for playing continuo, a simple, repetitive bass line used in Baroque music such as Pachelbel's Canon in D, and it is still common for the cello to serve this role in the orchestra. However, the cello is capable of so much more than that, and composers quickly came to realize this and began to write more complicated harmonies and solo works for cello. As cellos became more popular as solo instruments, cellists demanded a smaller design that did not compromise the cello's tone. This was delivered with the Forma B, designed by the same Antonio Stradivari famous for his Stradivarius violins, and this is still the standard today.
The cello is just as versatile as the violin, arguably more versatile given its greater range, and it can be used in any style of music, but it tends to be less common than the violin outside of classical music. Cellos tend to be more expensive than violins, and rental rates are higher. They often come in soft cases because hard cases cost more, and the soft case is sufficient if travel is limited to local lessons, rehearsals, and performances in a vehicle that can transport it safely. If you use public transportation or travel long distances, a hard case is highly recommended. In addition to the instrument and bow, you will need an end pin rest, a music stand, a firm chair without arm rests from which you can rest your feet flat on the floor, rosin, and a soft cleaning cloth. All other accessories commonly offered as add-ons when you rent or buy a cello are unnecessary. We recommend getting a cello from a local violin shop if possible, rather than a general music store or website. If you do not yet have a cello, talk to us, first. The market for violin-family instruments can be tricky for beginners, so we would prefer to help you avoid things that look like good deals but are actually VSOs, or violin-shaped objects, the industry equivalent of a "lemon."
We offer cello lessons for children ages five and up. If your child is younger than five, we recommend violin, instead, at least for the first year or two of lessons. While the cello does come in sizes suitable for the average three-year-old, the larger size makes it more difficult for smaller children to carry and position the instrument on their own, and smaller sizes are much weaker in tone and can be more difficult to find.