which instrument would you choose? violin vs cello

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said: Aug 12, 2009
 17 posts

Hi to all,
my daughter now 4 has just finished her first year on the violin. After lots of work and long weeks of frustration she has managed to play twinkle nicely at a good speed. The teacher has set her out on two childern’s songs which she loves. One of them she managed nicely “all by herself” and the other works out fairly well. So she is extremely proud now and motivated to continue after the summer break.
Now to my actual question. I have a son of now 2 1/2 and would like to get him started next year when he is three plus. I am slowly trying to convince him how nice playing music is. I am just not too sure which instrument would be best. I have read some of the sibling threads which have set me thinking. As I am very found of the music school we are in and for practical reasons I would like to stay at the same school. So the choice would be either stick to the violin again (the teacher is great and it would make it easier for me as I have gone through the beginnings once before) or let him pick up the cello (which I would find great also—giving him something which is his very own and does not create competition between brother and sister).
I have not spoken to the teacher yet as it is summer break around here, but which instrument would you prefer? Would he be too young for the cello at 3 1/2? I have no experience with cellos, but is it possible to compare it with the violin? Does the player need more strength and/or coordination abilities than with the violin? Are the requirements of posture, etc. similar? (That’s what I really underestimated. It took a lot of time until my daughter had enough strength in her fingers to keep the strings pressed correctly and could remember where to keep her feet, ellbows, etc… Still goes a stray…)
Guess I will have to speak to the teachers first, but I would like to start influencing my son gently into one or the other direction.
Thanks for your opinions.
Rippe

Barb said: Aug 17, 2009
Barb Ennis
Suzuki Association Member
Cello
678 posts

Hi Rippe,

I teach cello, but do not (yet) have Suzuki training, and so do not teach younger than age 5, but I know that there are those that teach cello as young as 3; they do make tiny cellos. (I also play the violin a little—switched to cello when I was in book 4, picked it up again as an adult to occasionally fiddle.)

I would say the coordination, strength, and posture issues would not be very different from violin in that children have to be taught to sit up, keep the feet on the floor, left elbow up, correct bow hold… And often the boys can’t actually sit down through an entire 30 minute lesson, even at 7. On a well set-up cello the strings should not be too hard to press down. The left hand position on a cello is somewhat more natural than on the violin, and there is no hurting from the chinrest issue. :) I think one concept that is more difficult to learn on the cello is “up” bow and “down” bow, because they are not going up and down when playing the top two strings as on the violin!

I would suggest you ask to observe some of the cello lessons at the school, as well as speak with the teacher. I wouldn’t worry about trying to influence your son in one way or another yet if he is still a year away from lessons, but you could start to expose him to cello music as well as violin. Play the Suzuki CDs as well as other classical music. Also SING with your children, read them nursery rhymes, and play rhythm games clapping and using rhythm instruments. March and dance to music. Sing a note and have them match your pitch or you match theirs until they learn how. Teach high and low, short and long, fast and slow. Keep it fun!

You might consider doing things the real Suzuki way where you start to learn the instrument first, and your son will eventually, naturally, want to do what Mommy does and get part of the lesson themselves. I have a 1/4 size Suzuki cello and noticed that it has an end pin long enough that I can play it (a bit awkwardly, but I can)—are all Suzuki cellos like that? Or perhaps a smaller cello would sit on your lap? Talk to the teacher there to see if they teach that way.

Best wishes,
Barb

Barb
Music Teachers Helper—for individual teachers
Studio Helper—for entire music studios or schools

said: Aug 18, 2009
 17 posts

Thanks Barb for your detailed answer.
I will speak to the teacher soon. I also want to find out if there is a matching group for the group lessons. I think they are very important and it would be more difficult without them or if the group is not composed of pupils of the same level. The group lessons were always the motivation motor for my daughter. There were times at which she was very disappointed when I told her we were going for the single lesson, but now she understands that she cannot play along with the others without having the single lessons first.
Regards
Rippe

Eve Weiss said: Aug 20, 2009
 
Suzuki Association Member
Guitar
16 posts

We almost always encourage folks to buy both tapes and attend concert settings of the solo instruments. While the parent helps guide, the best world is if the child shows a preference, go with that preference. If there is a preference talk with the teacher(s) or school director. If not, starting on violin may be easier for you (your knowledge, materials in the house, ability to schedule adjacent or near lessons on the same day…) and remain open to switching (after a sufficient time for the non-instrument learning of Suzuki to catch on…) if he shows a preference later.

Boys have different issues at all ages…

said: Aug 25, 2009
 17 posts

Thanks Etail,
for your advice.
You mention that boys have different issues at all ages. What kind of things are you thinking about or have you experienced? I am going into this adventure with only little experience so I would be happy if you could share your experiences.
Thanks in advance.
Rippe

Eve Weiss said: Aug 26, 2009
 
Suzuki Association Member
Guitar
16 posts

rippe

Thanks Etail,
for your advice.
You mention that boys have different issues at all ages. What kind of things are you thinking about or have you experienced? I am going into this adventure with only little experience so I would be happy if you could share your experiences.
Thanks in advance.
Rippe

Please keep in mind that though every child can, every child is different. So for our son, he was interested in music from an early age but not very coordinated. He was diagnosed with the term sensory integration disorder (typified by lack of fine or gross motor skills, poor body planing—of course you can’t fit there!, inability to cross the mid-line—use the left hand on the right side of the body and generally feel thier body in space…) and started occupational therapy by threeish. It turns out that mnay “out-of-synch” kids are boys rather than girls (not all but most…).

So my son started violin lessons at the same time and found many technical and posture issues very difficult. However the musical development was good. So a very considerate teacher pushed the ear training, stressed the technical and posture but didn’t obsess over it and he improved over time. Some times (yes I hate generalizations so the is almost most times) young girls develop the technical and physical abilities sooner. I feel at this point that most boys just can’t do that so early. They may in time. But the balance then (while again each child is different) is best slewed to ear training and musical development for students that might have minor delays physically until thier bodies catch up. And many of those needing this consideration will be boys. It means coming back in many cases to correct issues. And that has been frustrating. You will just have to be patient and permit a boy to not be perfect until thier body is ready.

Sometimes you get lucky. So young men like Josua Bell started off with a great deal of physical dexterity and musical talent. Many times however, the slightly klutzy boy needs time to develop physically while the Suzuki approach can allow development of other elements.

said: Nov 10, 2009
 17 posts

Thanks for the answers so far.
I have spoken to the teacher and he is willing to get to know my boy better when he is three. He advised me to think about a different instrument than the violin. In his opinion the competition between the siblings may become an issue specially since they are so close in age. Has anyone encountered sibling competition as “big problem”?
We do not have space for a piano and I am not too enthusiastic about playing piano…
He usually takes the kids at the age of four for Cello and is of the general opinion that boys need a little more time than girls.
Well I still have got time to make up my mind. My little boy is going through a great developement step at the moment and I do think time may be the answer for him to settle (especially as he has to get used to wearing glasses at the moment).
I just wanted to give all that were so kind to answer an update on the topic.
Regards Rippe

said: Jul 5, 2010
 2 posts

You need to consider the logistics if they do different instruments- different music lesson locations, concerts. It’s OK now when they are young and you don’t have many commitments, but as they get older, there are other commitments as well eg sport.
Also you will be investing in a series of instruments, as if you stick with the violin, the younger one just inherits the older one’s instrument. You already know the repertoire, know how to look after the instrument, so that would save you time. Violins are so portable, easy to go busking, and can travel as hand luggage.
Also consider their hand span, I think you need to stretch a bit more with the cello, and cellists can get calluses because the strings are thicker. Of course that depends on how much one practises :cool: and a cello teacher might correct me with my comments ….uh-oh…..
As for sibling rivalry, you’re going to get it anyway- it wouldn’t stop you to get them to learn eg to swim or read. My youngest child out of 3 gets very excited when he can play the pieces his older siblings can do. I just know when they grow up as adults, although they will probably have their own interests and grow apart, at least they will have this in common with each other to share- and hopefully still play. Well that’s the plan!
I did so want my eldest who was 3 at the time to pick the cello to learn, but she chose the violin and here we are with 3 of them learning the violin. In some ways i am glad because can you imagine transporting 3 cellos!!! :cool: Violins are so hard on the ear when they first start- cellos are so much more forgiving.
With friends whose kids want to start a string instrument after the age of 7/8 i do kinda suggest the cello, as there are so many kids that have started violin at 3 and already advanced at 7/8. There really aren’t as many cellist out there. When you look at the criteria for music scholarships, they require a higher level for the violin than the cello, so you can tell there are a lot of violinists. So doing the cello you might get more of a chance to be in the limelight…
I don’t think i totally answer your question for you, but just given you food for thought.

Jennifer Visick said: Jul 5, 2010
Jennifer VisickForum Moderator
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Suzuki in the Schools, Violin
998 posts

You might want to consider viola, which might give the different instrument advantage without being quite as different as cello in terms of technique.

Michelle said: Jul 6, 2010
 
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Violin
25 posts

RaineJen

You might want to consider viola, which might give the different instrument advantage without being quite as different as cello in terms of technique.

Ack, you beat me to the punch. I would totally recommend viola (although I may be a bit biased). It’s got the depth and richness of cello (well, close at least) with the portability of a violin. And yes, you can get little violas for little hands. I always recommend attending concerts and talking about what all the different instruments sound like. Most orchestras will do a family concert series, sometimes even with a “petting zoo” to get to know the instruments a little more closely.

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