The violoncello, or cello, is a stringed instrument played with a bow. It has four strings (do, sol, re, la) as all stringed instruments of a symphonic orchestra. It is the bass instrument of the viola da braccio family of instruments and it was created in the 16th century. In the early 19th century, the endpin, or spike, was added which supports the cello in playing position. The cellist is always seated with the instrument placed between his/her legs and supported on the floor with the help of an adjustable metal support rod. The cello’s size, as we know it today, was established by Stradivari, with a total height of 125 centimetres and body length of 75-76 centimetres.
There aren’t any different kinds of violoncello; however there are different sizes for children. The dimensions start from 1/8 (one eighth), 2/4 (two quarters), 3/4 (three quarters) and the normal violoncello dimensions is the 4/4 (four quarters) one and which is 125 centimetres high. The violoncello constitutes an essential part of chamber music and symphonic orchestras. Nowadays though and through musicians’ experimentations, the violoncello has become more modern and is widely used in pop and rock music as well.
There are four different violoncello sizes facilitating thus learning for little children as well. The violoncello is made in fractional sizes, such as 1/8 (one eighth), 2/4 (two quarters), 3/4 (three quarters) και 4/4 (four quarters). The smaller sizes are ideal for 6 year old students! This varies according to the maturity and musical perception a child has developed until that moment. The child’s body type also plays an important role because the student’s little fingers must be able to strongly ‘embrace’ the chords to produce better sound. As with almost all musical instruments, the lessons start by learning the notes, values and short easy pieces.
The violoncello is considered to be one of the most difficult musical instruments for a student to learn! The violoncello, to a greater degree than other musical instruments, is closely linked with the feelings the musician develops while playing. However, students will be able to play short musical pieces by the end of the second year and their progress solely depends on them. The personal interest, the study hours and their love for the violoncello are elements that if combined together can turn someone from a beginner violoncello player to a good musician in a very short time!
The violoncello lessons, as all musical instrument lessons, are conducted on a private basis. That is, the lessons are conducted with the teacher and one student only. This enables the teacher to give all his/her attention to the student for the best possible results. The duration of the lessons varies according to the level of each student. Since the lessons are private there is flexibility in terms of the day and time a lesson can be arranged. The exact days and hours are jointly agreed upon by the student and the teacher before the beginning of the academic year. As time passes by and as the student progresses, additional hours might be added in a classroom with students of other musical instruments in order to create small orchestras, ultimately aiming to familiarize themselves and coexist with other musical instruments.
The school offers recognized examinations for all of its departments. The majority of the examinations are from foreign universities and schools and especially from the United Kingdom and the Czech Republic. The violoncello examinations offered by the school are the ABRSM (Royal School of Music), the Trinity College, the Conservatory of the Czech Republic and Greek conservatories. All diplomas are recognized by the Ministry of Education and Culture as well as by all universities abroad. Therefore, regardless of what musical instrument one plays and the levels completed, the school diplomas can be used as additional qualifications for admission in overseas universities!
When it comes to who are the best violoncello musicians opinions vary as happens with all musical instruments. Throughout cello’s history there have been quite a few musicians that honoured this instrument. In our opinion those who stood out are Jean-Louis Duport (1749-1819), Jacques Offenbach (1819-1890), Bernhard Cossmann (1822-1910), Gregor Piatigorsky (1903-1976), Pierre Fournier (1906-1986), Eleonore Schoenfeld (1925-2006), Jacqueline du Pré (1945-1987), and Johann Sebastian Paetsch (1964).