for cello studies

Suzuki Method Cello Book 1 by Shin’ichi Suzuki

This method is often described as “set apart” from other methods because of its use of listening and imitation rather than reading music from the very beginning. His philosophy is that at the age of 4, children have not yet begun reading words. Why expect them to be able to read notes? This book is not intended for the child to read from, but for the parents to have guidance on helping their child practice. It starts the beginner out on only the A and D string, with a one octave D major scale. Its primary focus is short pieces rather than scales. This is a philosophy more than a method. 

Early Beginner

Dotzauer Voloncello Method by J. Friedrich Dotzauer

An important figure in cello history, Dotzauer was a virtuosic cellist and composer. He wrote various concertos and concertinos for his instrument. Many of his shorter pieces are used for technical purposes. This beginning method book is condensed and can be overwhelming upon at first glance. It is published in two volumes, the first volume focusing on open strings and first position, while the second introduces various positions. These exercises are wonderful for left hand finger strength. This is recommended for a mature or motivated beginner.


Sebastian Lee Method for Violoncello by Sebastian Lee

Lee’s cello method is concise in its approach to teaching cello. Before each exercise are short explanations of what is to be expected technically. After learning a scale with its thirds/fourths/octaves, there are exercises in the key. It is very quick in introducing concepts that could be difficult for beginners to grasp such as positions, relative major and minor keys, and varying bow strokes.

Late Beginner

The Art of Cello Playing by Louis Potter, Jr.

This book is a textbook-method for private or class instruction. Potter does a wonderful job of including many helpful charts and explanations at the beginning pages of the book. Though earlier written texts include much of the same helpful rudiments of music, Potter lays out each concept in charts. They are clean in presentation that may improve learning ability.

Late Beginner 

170 Foundation Studies for Violoncello by Alwin Schroeder

This book is a compilation of etudes by a variety of the most commonly used composers in the cello repertoire. They are progressively arranged so that the student is increasingly challenged with each new etude.

Beginner – Intermediate

Position Pieces for Cello by Rick Mooney

Rick Mooney has created a wonderful library of books, each addressing a specific technique. This book covers different positions on the cello, very helpful for the beginning cellist. It works much like a workbook in that it has blank sheets for identifying notes and positions. It then provides a fun piece to accompany the notes/position just learned. It is a great resource to use in a private lesson with a beginner cellist. 


Studies for Cello by Jean-Louis Duport

These studies are well known among professional cellists. Each of the studies are complex but teach specific challenging techniques. These are similar to the very popular etudes by Popper. Many of the studies are written by Duport himself as he was a composer, pedagogue, and cellist.


Studies: Preparatory to the High School of Cello Playing, Op. 76 for Cello by David Popper

These etudes are perfect for the intermediate cellist that is preparing to become advanced players. When using these materials for teaching, it is important to note that the first etude is much more simple than the others. It is not necessary to go from start to finish as David Popper does not order his etudes in order of difficulty. It is up to the teacher to find the appropriate exercise depending on the technique being taught.

Intermediate – Advanced

High School of Cello Playing (40 Etudes) Op. 73 by David Popper

Most professional cellists would agree that their daily training is not complete without playing through a Popper etude. There are 40 complete etudes that cover a variety of challenging techniques, giving you melodies and notes that are seemingly impossible to play, yet satisfying when conquered. These etudes are a must for the advanced cellist as playing the most challenging passages will make them feel secure playing the rest of their repertoire and feel quite at ease doing so.


Technical Studies for Violoncello by Leo Schulz

Although full of wonderful exercises for trills, scales, arpeggios, and clef reading, this book is not sectioned in a particular way. It is difficult to find certain exercises, so instructors will need to look through the book to find a particular exercise. Recommended for teachers to use for supplemental activities. The edition published by G. Schirmer, inc. in New York includes a variety of exercises for thumb position as well.

Intermediate – Advanced

Daily Exercises by Louis R. Feuillard

Much like Schulz’s Technical Studies for Violoncello, Feuillard lays out his book in almost the same order. Its focus is on left hand technique and begins with exercises in new positions, in the whole compass  of the cello, in thumb position, double stops, and finally (unlike Schulz) bowing exercises. This book is written in German, French, and English which can make it crowded and distracting, but also adds an interesting reminder of the universal language of music.


Cello Exercises: A Comprehensive Survey of Essential Cello Technique by Fritz Magg

In the forward Magg outlines the purpose of this book to “prepare the mastery of virtuoso problem with elementary studies, although this book is not for beginners.” He recommends that they be used for daily exercises so as to grow in mastery of the instrument.


A Survey of Fundamental Cello Technique by William Grubb

This book has an academic approach to cello technique. It writes as an essay which outlines important fundamental topics of playing the cello including: natural position of the instrument, position and posture, the bow, bow strokes, etc. It references these techniques in a historical context, giving the reader a full understanding of the technique rather than saying “just do it this way.” Recommended for the older beginner to advanced cellist wanting to have a historical view of why we play the way we do.

Late Beginner – Advanced

40 Variations for Cello, Opus 3 by Otakar Ševčík

Each variation based on a theme employ a different bowing technique. These are wonderful daily exercises for any cellist. If a student struggles in a certain area regarding a certain bow stroke, the teacher can find a few variations to assign that employ that specific technique. It is also a helpful book for warm-ups and to keep the left hand active.

Intermediate – Advanced

New School of Cello Studies by Charles Krane

This is another resource that would be good to use when introducing different positions. It includes a chart in the beginning of the book showing the different positions, then gives short exercises by Krane himself. After adequately introducing each position, the second half of the book includes etudes from a variety of composers such as Dotzauer, Werner, Kummer, and more. Each etude is selected based on the variety of positions that are not to complex.

Beginner – Intermediate

The Ivan Galamian Scale System for the Violoncello by Ivan Galamian

The Galamian scale system is well known among string players. It begins with a few notes to begin the scale in order to prepare the hands. It also helps with the math of the scale’s fingerings. It is well thought-out and very commonly used. This book comes in two volumes with the first giving the scales and arpeggios and the second on other things like double stops and scales in thirds and sixths.

Intermediate – Advanced

Violoncello Technique by Mark Yampolsky

Yampolsky lays out his book with each scale acting as a chapter. It goes through the circle of fifths so it easy to find the desired scale. Under each scale are arpeggios in the tonic, dominant, and subdominant. It then gives thirds and sixths, octave scales and arpeggios, and chords. Under each exercise is a bowing and rhythm variation that varies for each key. This is a great resource with is easy to use and will increase technical ability and intonation very quickly.


Technical Studies for Cello by Julius Klengel

This scale book is sectioned off based on the amount of octaves, making it a great resourse to use for a variety of levels of cellists. The greater units are how many octaves, and the smaller sections are separated by scale, arpeggio, and other (double stops, etc.) Each page is very full of many notes and scales are written one after the other, so the student will have to flip pages a lot in order to practice different versions of their given scales.

Beginner – Advanced