Warning: this post will be cello-centric. Today we will explore a few of my favorite things that will promote successful cello studies and performance.
- A flat-seated chair with no arms. My absolute favorite chair is the Wenger Cello Chair. It has a perfect height for me (5’8″), but is a little tall for children or teens or smaller adults.It leans forward slightly, which is optimal for cello playing. Wenger chairs are pricey, running around $260 on Amazon. A cheaper alternative is the Ikea dining chair “Stefan,” running around a mere $29. I add a flat cushion or a wedge cushion (see below) to make this chair more comfortable. An adjustable stool might be handy for growing smaller students.
- Wedge cushion: this will help tall people find a better height, but it also promotes a slight lean into the cello that I find beneficial for releasing weight into the instrument and avoiding tension. It will also save your lower back! I like the kind with a carrying strap for transporting to orchestra rehearsals. On Amazon, the TravelMate Medium-FIRM memory foam cushion is only around $18.99.
- Cello Strap: Of all the contraptions that have been invented to keep cellists’ endpins from slipping and scratching floors, I still find the strap the most reliable. My absolute favorite is one I bought in France, still available online through the Maison des Cordes, but unless you have a European connection, it’s very pricey. It is made of wood and wraps up like a yo-yo. I find the wood conducts sound better than metal or rubber. However, Shar and most local luthiers or music shops carry the Xeros Cello straps, which also work well for most people. They are adjustable. In a pinch use your cello case strap!
4. Wolf-tone eliminator: Most cellos have a note that vibrates TOO much and produces a wonky, unstable tone. Often this is between Eb-F on cellos, and sometimes a simple sound-post adjustment can fix this. Many times, a wolf-tone eliminator is necessary to “tame” the vibrations. My favorite system is actually a weighted magnet is placed on the top of the cello by a luthier, but a cheaper DYI solution is a weight that is added to the string. My preferred model does not have screws that can vibrate or come loose and is easily adjustable.
5. Rosin: My preferred rosin at this time is Andrea solo or orchestral rosin. However, these lovely, sticky cakes of rosin run close to $40. For students, I recommend Magic Rosin Ultra brand. Magic Rosin Ultra is only around $35. It is super sticky, comes in a handy plastic case that prevents breaking, and there are a gazillion fun designs.
6. Cleaning Rag: You will need a rag to clean the dirt and rosin off your cello, and another one to clean your strings. I just use old t-shirts that are cut up into squares. Don’t use anything that might have lint and, for goodness sake, don’t use any products on your cello except those intended for string instruments!
7. Plastic Portfolio or tote bag: It’s good to keep your lesson materials in one place that is easy to find and bring to lessons. I highly recommend putting photocopies in a binder and method books in one big folder. Better yet, get a durable plastic portfolio to carry everything around in.
8. Music Stand : Manhasset Music Stands have room for all your method books and are really sturdy. They also have great gig stands with carrying cases, and come in fun colours. Wire stands are also portable, but choose sturdy over flimsy for best results.
9. Music Stand Light: There is nothing worse than not being able to see your music, especially for middle-aged eyes, ahem. The best light I’ve found is the Mighty Bright Orchestra light, but there are cheaper versions. The ones you can plug in and recharge overnight are handy if you don’t want your batteries to run out in the middle of a show.
Happy Cello-ing! Let me know some of your favorite things in the comment section.