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Cello adventures...


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#1 Barry H

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Posted 28 September 2019 - 09:01

Hi all,
 
Just an introductory post, really. 
 
Long story short: Took early retirement a few years ago and was hoping to spend much time on the piano.  Mainly jazz, some classical (started 2006).  Sadly, I developed a little pain in my wrists and fingers which I reckon is the onset of arthritis as have some pain in right knee and ankles also.  There are good days and not so good days.  This has affected my playing which has now dwindled to almost nothing (not helped by the addition of a Cocker spaniel pup a couple of years ago - meaning lots of work!)
 
Anyway, love the cello and I've decided that cello adventures will be a bit easier on the old bones and I'm excited at the prospect of a new challenge.  I'm still at the researching kit stage at the mo'.  Have almost worn out the internet and my poor brain is aching (strings, good grief!), but I'm getting there... I have a budget of about £2-2.5K (including bow) and it's doubtful if I'll ever be able to afford to upgrade, but that won't have to matter (even if it does!).
 
I have a long history of music making over the years (clarinet, guitar, flute, piano).  Theory/reading music is long ingrained so will not be doing exams.  At this stage, I just don't see the point.  Will probably find a teacher, but if and only if I get stuck (apologies if this sounds arrogant, but I'm a bit of an autodidact). The plan is to take it seriously and have realistic goals but mainly have some fun.
 
I have been very impressed with the Yamaha Silent Cellos and they do seem to have lots of advantages for someone like me - my practice habits can extend into the small hours.  So, something else to mull over...
 
Thoughts and comments welcome (especially books and method recommendations) and I'm looking forward to contributing FWIW...
 
 

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#2 Latin pianist

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Posted 28 September 2019 - 09:22

My comment would be that you should find a teacher. I took up the cello and even though I'm a very experienced pianist and reading music was not a problem at all, the technique is so important with a string instrument that I would have got nowhere without a teacher. I kept playing and now have a lesson every few weeks but even after quite a few years, I still need lots of help with technique.
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#3 Tenor Viol

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Posted 28 September 2019 - 09:28

I'd agree, find a teacher and they will help you with finding a cello as they do come in slightly different shapes and sizes e.g. 'Stradivarius' or 'Montagnana' etc

 

If you want to play with others, play in a community orchestra etc then you will need a conventional cello, rather than an electric one. 

 

At your budget level, I'd suggest allowing about £300 or so for the bow. Something like a Hiscox case will cost around £300. Jargar are decent quality strings that won't break the bank.

 

You would be better off getting a better second-hand decent Chinese cello or Eastern European or similar at that price level. Find a decent music shop that stocks string instruments and knows what it's doing, i.e. not a guitar shop with a few bits of other stuff, including having an on-site or access to a decent luthier to do the set-up.   


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#4 Barry H

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Posted 28 September 2019 - 10:51

Have no plans (at the mo') to play in a community orchestra.  As with much else, I'm finding choice of decent acoustic cello is pretty much dependent on price/budget.  After much research, top of the list is the ES Westbury (with luthier setup and Jargars) and about £4-500 for a bow.  

 

I'm not convinced that an acoustic would be 'better' than a Silent Cello, but am open to being persuaded...


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#5 wendym

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Posted 30 September 2019 - 07:19

Just a small warning that cello can be just as tough on the joints as piano - I started learning about 6 months ago and had a month or so over the summer where I couldn’t play at all due to pain in my left hand finger joints - though fortunately that’s better after the forced break of a few weeks of no playing whatsoever. I play the piano too and had never had pain issues before the cello.

Would you consider hiring an instrument for a few months which would give you time both to try out the cello and see if it works for you, as well as extra time to research what you’d like to spend your budget on? I took a huge risk (for me at least!) by buying a Chinese handmade cello over the internet, completely unseen - but on the advice of my cello teacher. I spent about a thousand pounds on it, and then had it professionally set up in London with new Jargar and Larsen strings and it both looks beautiful and it plays like a dream so it was worth the risk. My teacher has been very happy with it and when she plays it to demonstrate, she gets so much sound of it it’s quite scary!

Oh and I’d definitely second going for acoustic over electric...
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#6 Tenor Viol

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Posted 01 October 2019 - 15:10

Just a small warning that cello can be just as tough on the joints as piano - I started learning about 6 months ago and had a month or so over the summer where I couldn’t play at all due to pain in my left hand finger joints - though fortunately that’s better after the forced break of a few weeks of no playing whatsoever. I play the piano too and had never had pain issues before the cello.

Would you consider hiring an instrument for a few months which would give you time both to try out the cello and see if it works for you, as well as extra time to research what you’d like to spend your budget on? I took a huge risk (for me at least!) by buying a Chinese handmade cello over the internet, completely unseen - but on the advice of my cello teacher. I spent about a thousand pounds on it, and then had it professionally set up in London with new Jargar and Larsen strings and it both looks beautiful and it plays like a dream so it was worth the risk. My teacher has been very happy with it and when she plays it to demonstrate, she gets so much sound of it it’s quite scary!

Oh and I’d definitely second going for acoustic over electric...

Sounds like you're putting a death grip on the neck of the cello. You should not be 'gripping' the neck, it doesn't need that. If you do, you will get a pain in your thumb and likely in your elbow as well.


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#7 wendym

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Posted 01 October 2019 - 21:19

Oh no, I hardly hold the neck at all, let alone Death grip it. Got my teacher to check my technique very carefully and she said there was absolutely nothing I was doing wrong - as a pianist I am very aware of how important correct technique is and so from the very start with the cello I have been extremely careful to avoid picking up bad habits. It was just swelling, stiffness and acute pain that started in my baby finger and moved, finger by finger, through the last joint before my fingernails. It also coincided with me being rather unwell for a couple of months and so we put it down to something viral. A good 6 weeks rest, including a wonderful holiday in the Alps, and the pain is completely gone - thankfully!
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#8 Tenor Viol

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Posted 02 October 2019 - 16:55

Good to hear


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#9 Karensnagsby

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Posted 06 October 2019 - 20:25

Wendym, I don’t mean to be intrusive, but have you considered getting checked out by a rheumatologist? What you described, particularly after feeling unwell as you said, sounds exactly like a condition that I have - a particular form of arthritis which comes and goes. Take care.
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#10 JanW

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Posted 07 October 2019 - 07:40

Hi Barry. I'm just wondering if you had a teacher when learning piano? I too have arthritis in my fingers, but since taking up piano about a year ago I have found that the pain has decreased significantly. My tutor says he has noticed this with another 'mature' and arthritic student. We think that this must be down to correct technique and repeated but gentle finger movements. I have since passed my grade 1 with distinction and am working towards grade 2 in the spring. Have promised myself, if I reach grade 3 I will think about another instrument in addition to piano and have been looking at lever harps (wanted to play harp since I was a child) to keep the fingers moving. (At times I do find rubbing ibuprofen gel into the joints does help a little if playing for a long session).

Good luck, whatever you choose, but don't let arthritis beat you too soon!

Jan
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#11 R-W

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Posted 08 October 2019 - 11:53

Hi Barry, you may/may not find this useful but I'd suggest considering covered gut strings (Pirastro Passiones or similar) as opposed to steel if you can. Even if not now, but down the line maybe.

 

Upon recommendation of my teacher, we popped a set of these onto my factory cello (an ex-rental Prima 200 FWIW) some time ago and it made a huge amount of difference! It sounded so much warmer and I wish I'd have done it when I first started.

 

For my first cello, I rented one (about £30 a month I think), and the shop used my rental payments towards the cost of the cello when I decided to buy it. This is fairly common practice and most places offer this for adults not just children these days.


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