How To Pick The Right Cello Size

It’s very important to pick the right cello size so that practicing and learning the instrument will be enjoyable.  The larger the cello means the larger the distance between fingered notes on the strings.  The wrong instrument will make it difficult to play comfortably using proper technique and hand positioning.

Cello sizes are notated as fractions.  The ones listed below are the most common, although, cellos can be made in many different size options.
 1/8 size,   1/4 size,   1/2 size,   3/4 size,   4/4 size

There are a few common methods used to determine the correct cello size for a student.

Using a Cello
This is a method to use if you have different sizes at your disposal that you want to try out.  First, you want to sit straight in a chair with your feet flat on the floor and your knees bent at a 90 degree angle.  Release the end pin and rest the cello against your body in playing position.  While in this position, check for the following:

  1. Your left knee should be touching the curve below the lower bout.
  2. There should be a few inches of clearance between your shoulder and the neck of the cello.
  3. The C string peg should be near your left ear.
  4. The upper rim of the cello should be resting in the center of your chest (breast bone).
By Age
The age/size recommendations are based on the average heights and arm spans for each age group.
4-6 years old      —>  1/8 size
5-7 years old      —>  1/4 size
7-11 years old    —>  1/2 size
11-15 years old  —>  3/4 size
15 and Older      —>  4/4 size


Body  Measurements (arms/height)
I think that matching your specific height/span measurements is the more precise and best place to start. After consulting the charts below, the next step should be to try the suggested cello size in person to make sure that it really is the right fit for you.  These charts are from the website
Measurement charts show the most comfortable cello size based on three of your body measurements:  Height, Arm Length and Finger Span.
Cello Height Measuring ChartCello Arm Length Measuring ChartCello Finger Span Measuring Chart

You may also find these links helpful:
Music Terms and Symbols For Cellists
Vibrato For Beginning Cellists
Parts of The Cello
Parts of The Bow
1st Position Cello Fingering Chart

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How To Handle Your Performance Anxiety

Most musicians who perform live in front of audiences will tell you that at some point in their careers, they have had to deal with performance anxiety and sometimes crippling stage fright. I had a very interesting personal experience a few months ago while performing background music at an event. These are the types of gigs that I never get nervous about, but for this particular job, I had a whole new set of custom arrangements that I had never performed in public before. Much to my amusement, I started feeling the little flutter in my stomach which is my tell-tale sign of performance jitters. It made me sympathize even more with what my students go through at every one of their recitals.

Below are a few tips and techniques that have helped me to effectively cope with and overcome the debilitating effects of performance anxiety. I’ve found that if I actively and consistently practice my set of responses to my anxiety, then I feel more calm and confident on performance day. I’m also less likely to have any memory slips.

Practice well and very thoroughly.
This should go without saying, but it’s very important to stress the significance of preparing and knowing your music well. If you come to your performance knowing that there are certain passages that you haven’t mastered in your music, it will feed into and intensify any negative nervous thoughts that may already be racing through your head.

Do a mock performance (or performances) before the BIG performance.
Gather your family, friends and strangers for a rehearsal sit in. Since everyone’s response to performance stress isn’t exactly the same, this would be the time to focus on how anxiety manifests itself for you:

  • Do you have excessive negative thoughts?
  • Do you have physical symptoms?
  • Are you panicked and looking for the nearest exit?

Don’t try to suppress what you’re feeling. Allow yourself to give a voice to your feelings of angst and pay attention to the physical sensations going on throughout your entire body.

Take the time to reflect after each practice performance.
Think back to how you felt before, during and after you played. Recap for yourself the thoughts that were running through your mind. It’s probably a good idea to write them down. I know that for me, things become more clear and real when I write. Try to relive the moment when your hands started to sweat profusely, when your stomach started twisting into knots, when you felt light headed or when you experienced any other physical ailment.

After you have given yourself the chance to revisit and digest everything that you thought and felt, try countering each specific negative thought with a positive, rational and healthy one. Keep doing this reflection exercise everyday until you have trained yourself to have a different, much better response to anxiety.

I hope that this blog has been of interest and/or helpful to you. I welcome any comments or other suggestions on the subject matter.

You may also find these links helpful:
Piano Practice Tips For Intermediate & Advanced Music
Cello Practice Tips For Intermediate & Advanced Music


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