Beginning Cello Lessons:
What’s the Best Age to Learn Cello?

By Rose Park  6/5/23 • 4 min read

The best age to learn cello:

The ideal age to start playing the cello is between the ages of 7 and 9 years old. Many cello teachers agree that students can start cello lessons as early as 6 years old. Parents can help their child’s musical growth by participating in their lessons, especially when they’re under 8 years old.

Many people start cello later in life, and it’s never too late to begin your musical journey! No matter how old you are, playing the cello gives you happiness in all aspects of life. Ready to start cello?

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3 factors to consider when starting cello

Is the student motivated?

If your child doesn’t show any interest in playing the cello or listening to cello music, forcing them to take lessons can do more harm than good. Besides, they won’t be motivated enough to practice or improve, which will frustrate both the child and the teacher.

Instead of pushing cello lessons, try to encourage your child’s interests. There are plenty of other activities that your child might actually love to try and learn. And if they do express an interest in music, consider other instruments besides the cello.

What's the best age to learn cello? Lesson With You Cello Lessons Start Guide

Will the student be able to practice regularly?

Cello isn’t an easy instrument to play and requires a significant amount of time, energy, and focus to learn. No matter how old you are or what level you’re at, having a consistent practice routine is the key to making progress on the cello.  

If your child is under 8 years old, it’s a good idea to encourage them to play the cello regularly – around 4 times a week for about 15 to 20 minutes each time. As a parent, you don’t need to be monitoring them the whole time, but helping them find the right amount of consistent practice can really make a difference.

Is the cello lesson affordable?

Based on our recent article on lesson costs, the average price for one-hour cello lesson is $70. That being said, it’s important to find a great teacher who charges a reasonable cost and provides your child a great cello curriculum. To find your right cello teacher, check out our recent article “How to Find an Exceptional Cello Teacher.

You can find exceptional cello instructors with reasonable pricing. At Lesson With You, we offer half-hour cello lessons for $35 with teachers who hold at least a Bachelor’s degree in cello performance from top music schools.

When is my child ready to begin cello?

Signs when your child is ready to start cello - lesson with you - What's the best age to start cello?

1. Your child can hold a cello and a bow

Playing the cello requires some physical abilities, like having enough arm strength and hands to hold the instrument and move the bow. If your child has good control of their fingers and can hold the cello comfortably, it’s a sign they may be ready to start lessons.

For cellos, measurements of 1/16, 1/8, and 1/4 are the standard size for young students.

2. Your child can practice at least 10 minutes

If your child has time each day to practice cello, that’s enough to get started! We recommend at least 10 minutes of practice a day for kids under 8, and at least 20 minutes, 3 times a week for older children. Remember, it’s not just about putting in the time – a good cello practice involves using effective strategies and staying committed to learning goals. If you’re not too sure about how to set a practice routine for your child, talk to your instructor for guidance.

3. Your child can follow instructions

Playing the cello is a unique experience that requires your child to pay attention to movement, details and sounds. In cello lessons, your child will learn how to read and play melodies. The teacher will give feedback on everything from posture to sound control.

If your child is able to follow these instructions, it’s a sign that they are ready to learn cello! For children under 7 years old, it’s a good idea for parents to join in on the lessons to provide extra support.

4. Your child can stay focused for at least 15 minutes

Cello lessons typically last for at least half an hour. This means your child needs to stay focused for about 15 minutes during each 30-minute lesson. It’s important for them to concentrate so they can understand what the teacher is asking them to do and improve their skills. If you’re not sure whether your child can do this, you can try setting aside some time for them to practice focusing on activities like reading a book, doing art crafts, or solving puzzles.

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Benefits of learning cello at a young age

Learning cello at a young age has many benefits! It gives children a sense of accomplishment and boost their confidence, but it also teaches them problem-solving skills. Unlike other subjects, music requires a constant process of problem-solving and dedication. By figuring out how to fix mistakes and consistently improve their playing, kids learn to think critically and creatively.  

Regular practice also helps children develop self-discipline and patience, which are essential skills that can be applied to all areas of life. Overall, starting cello at a young age helps your child develop a great musical technique that they can continue to improve throughout their life, and brings them happiness from playing music!

How to find and choose the right cello teacher

One of the challenges when starting cello lessons is finding the right teacher. In our recent article How to Find an Exceptional Cello Teacher, we discuss the mistakes many students and parents make during the first stage of their cello learning journey. Typical mistakes include:
  • Starting with an ordinary instructor and then switching to a better one later
  • Failing to thoroughly review the teacher’s educational background
  • Learning from a teacher who also teaches other instruments
  • Taking cello lessons that charge significantly less than the average rate
Note: It’s important to find a cello teacher with at least a Bachelor’s degree in cello performance with two years of teaching experience. Make sure to check the teacher’s performance recordings and teaching background, and actively ask questions about their policies and lesson curriculum.

Tips on starting cello lessons (that actually work!)

1. Maintain cello in good conditions

Whether you’re buying a cello or keeping your cello, it’s important to make sure the instrument is in good condition. If you’re buying a cello for the first time, note that beginner cellos come in a price range of $200 to $2500. Cellos priced below $1000 are generally of poor quality, unless they are used and sourced from a reputable seller. 

Also, get a case to protect your cello and make sure to control the room temperature during winter and summer. Using a rosin is a good idea too. This way, the student can experience the best quality of learning possible.

2. Place the cello where your child can easily access

The more accessible your cello is, the more likely your child is to practice regularly. Instead of hiding the cello away in a small room or attic, try placing it in the child’s bedroom or living room. That way, they can easily sit down and play a few tunes whenever they have time.
What's the best age to learn cello? Lesson With You Cello Lessons Start Guide

3. Listen to more recordings

Listening to different types of music is a fun way to expand your musical knowledge and improve your cello skills. You can start by arranging a regular “listening time” with your child, where you both can enjoy listening to music together and talk about songs. 

Don’t forget to check out online performances, such as those available on the MET website or subscribe to YouTube channels of major international orchestras! The more your child listens and learns, the better their cello playing will become.

4. Help your child balance between practice and play

When it comes to learning cello, balancing practice and play is important, and as a parent, you can help your child balance between practice and play. For kids under 8, try setting a short but effective practice schedule that works around their school days. 

It’s also a good idea to schedule some time for them to just play the cello without any pressure, letting them to simply explore and enjoy the music. Some teachers suggest using a timer or planner during practice sessions to keep things on track.

5. Talk about lesson progress

After taking a couple of weeks of cello lessons, check in with your child and ask how they’re enjoying it. You want to make sure they’re not only learning a valuable skill, but also feeling happy and motivated to continue with their lessons in the long run. Try having casual conversations about their progress during dinner table. Take the time to listen to their stories and be there to provide support throughout their music journey.

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Common questions about beginning cello

Q. How long does it take to learn cello?

Learning the cello takes time and differs for everyone. Typically, it takes several years of consistent practice to develop a solid foundation in cello playing.
If your child wants to play cello for enjoyment, a daily practice routine, averaging 20 minutes is recommended. If your child is interested in participating in competitions, more intensive practice, averaging one to two hours a day is required. 

Q. How often should I practice the cello as a beginner?

According to experts, it’s highly recommend practicing cello at least three times a week, ideally around 30 minutes each session. For beginners, a total of 2 hours per week is a good starting point.  As you progress, you can gradually increase your average time to 30 minutes. For children under 12, start with 15 minutes of practice at least three times a week.

Q. What size cello should I get for a beginner?

Here are some guidelines for sizing a cello to the player, along with the suggested ages:

  • Children aged 6-7 : 1/4 size cello (38.5 inches long)
  • Children aged 8-10: 1/2 size cello (42 inches long)
  • Children aged 11-14 (and smaller adults), a 3/4 size cello (45 inches long)
  • Children and adults aged 14 and above: a full-size cello (4/4, 48 inches long).

The best way is to consult with a cello instructor or local music store salesperson to make sure you get the proper sizing. 

Q. How much do cello lessons cost, and are there any additional expenses?

The average price for a one-hour cello lesson is $70, based on our cello lesson pricing guide. Online cello lessons between $35-40 for a half hour lesson, and local private cello lessons range from $40-50 for a half hour lesson. There may be additional expenses, such as purchasing or renting a cello, buying accessories like a bow and rosin, lesson book, and maintenance costs for the instrument.

Is it ever too late to start cello?

Age doesn’t matter when it comes to learning cello. At Lesson With You, our expert instructors create customized lesson plans suited to the musical needs and lifestyles of any cello learners. With their professional tips, anyone can elevate their skills at competitive prices.

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Rose Park

Rose Park is a graduate of the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University where she studied Piano Performance and Arts Administration, receiving both Bachelor's and Master's degrees before co-founding Lesson With You. As a pianist, Rose was a prizewinner in many international piano competitions and performed at  various summer programs and festivals across the United States, Italy, and Japan.