Learning a second instrument

Learning a second instrumentI have been taking cello lessons for the past couple of years, and have really been enjoying it! I love learning, and learning new instruments is a natural direction for me. I have tried many other instruments, but the cello has really stuck! I love the sound of it, and talked about learning it when I was a kid (although that was just because they didn’t have to stand up when we played the national anthem), and now am following that dream!

I think that for me as a teacher it has been a really good exercise to try a new instrument. I have been playing the violin since I was six years old, so many aspects of it seem completely natural to me. It is good for me to experience the frustration that my students experience at learning aspects of the instrument. I do have an advantage though, as there are certain similarities between the violin and the cello.

Here is what I have noticed. Things that are very different include how you hold your left hand, and interestingly, the bow hold. I have really struggled with getting my left hand to be shaped like a cellist’s instead of a violinist’s, so that has been hard. Even though the bow grip is different, it has not been as much of a challenge.

The big place that I have an advantage is in the bowing. I have a feel for bowing from the violin, and even though the angle is different, the feel still carries over. Learning a stringed instrument, that head start is really handy!

I have noticed that my violin playing has been improving as an added bonus. The biggest place it has improved has been in my shifting (when you move your hand up the neck of the instrument). There is a lot more shifting on cello, even in more basic pieces, than on violin, so it is really hard to avoid. Also, my violin feels really tiny after I have been playing the cello, so it all seems a bit easier.

All in all, I have been enjoying learning a new instrument. I have played other instruments before (most notably oboe all through junior high and high school), but this has been my most recent foray, and I would strongly encourage anyone who already plays an instrument and is tempted to try out another to go ahead and do so! Stop thinking about it, and get out there to try it!

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