How to Find an
Exceptional Cello Teacher

The Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Best Cello Instructor

Picture of Rose Park

Rose Park

2/14/23• updated 3/22/24 • 4 min read

When you look for a cello teacher either online or in-person, sometimes it’s just hard to tell whether the instructor is professional, friendly and suited for you.

Which cello instructor should you ultimately choose? What makes one instructor better than another at really helping you level up your cello skills?

It’s worth taking the time to explore your options, because landing a great cello guide could elevate your musical journey. As students, we absorb so much just from observing how a teacher handles the instrument, interprets music and play techniques with their artistic expression. Having an inspiring teacher can really shape your development as a cellist.

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Get a professional cello teacher from the start

The sooner you meet a professional cello instructor, the faster you will excel in cello with a solid technique. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to pay more to hire a teacher with impressive teaching and educational backgrounds. Whether your cello lessons are online, in-person, or a hybrid format, the key is that your teacher will:

  • customize your cello learning curriculum
  • inspire a love of music
  • motivate you to challenge and grow as a better musician
  • give accurate, detailed feedback
  • inspire you to learn new repertoire fast

Many cello students make mistakes by trying to start with an ordinary teacher who also charges less, and then switching to a better cello instructor. This switch can be often confusing and may take years to fix any bad habits like posture, bow technique, sound making, and fingering.

Every cello teacher is unique and puts a different amount of emphasis in terms of lesson curriculum. Some instructors focus more on the technical side of cello whereas as some might tell you to focus on playing more musically.

Check the teacher's educational background

Degrees in Cello Performance

Where possible, make sure to check your potential teacher’s degree they received during college. The best cello teachers will hold advanced degrees (Master’s or Doctorate) in cello performance from top music schools. They are also able to demonstrate a high level of performance through live performance recordings, number of competition prizes and frequency of public performance opportunities. Here are some suggestions for questions related to degrees:

  • Are you majored in cello performance?
  • Do you have at least a Bachelor’s degree in cello?
  • Did you take any courses in pedagogy, music education, music theory or music history?
  • Do you currently work or perform in a local or city orchestra?

For Parents: If you’re looking for a cello teacher for your child, you can also look for someone who majored in music education with a focus in cello performance. These instructors can teach basic skills like reading music, theory and general foundation of cello playing.  When your child is ready to advance, possibly within a year or so, you should start thinking about switching to a teacher with advanced degrees in cello.

How to find a cello teacher - Lesson With You Cello Lessons Guide

Competitions and Performance Experience

When finding a cello teacher, it’s best to see if the teacher has listed any performance related accomplishments. This includes winning prizes from competitions (solo or chamber music), making a debut, collaborating with other musicians and giving solo or concerto performances.

The first thing you should do is to go to the cello teacher’s professional website and read their bio. If there are any live performance recordings uploaded, take time to watch the recordings.

Your potential cello instructor should at least put several descriptions of winning or participating in domestic or international competitions. Their resume should also include summary of their performance experiences such as recitals, orchestral performances, summer festivals, masterclasses and concerto performances. 

Teaching Experience in Cello

In addition to checking the teacher’s degree, it’s also essential to look for an instructor with at least 3 years of teaching experience in cello. The best cello teachers usually took a pedagogy class during college, which shows they’ve got a solid background in teaching.

You should also look for someone who’s comfortable using method books for teaching cello. Method books are considered to be a great learning resource for beginners and children, so make sure to ask them about using method books such as the Suzuki methods.

Background Check

Not every cello teacher lists this online, but you should check if the teacher has done and passed a comprehensive background check, especially if the lesson is for your child. Some live online lesson websites, such as Lesson With You, offer free trial lessons with professional cello instructors who are fully background checked.

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Questions to ask when choosing a cello teacher

Once you’re done with narrowing down a number of potential cello teachers, the next step is to talk with the instructors. Including pricing, you can ask general questions on the lesson environment and teaching philosophy. Here are some recommendations for questions to ask:

  • How many cello students do you teach? What ages and levels?
  • How do you build a lesson plan and customize?
  • Do you expect students to participate in studio recital, jury or competition? 
  • What are your practice expectations for beginners and advanced students?
  • Which cello method books do you use? If not using, what other lesson materials do you use?
  • How to do motivate students to play cello and improve?
  • How do you track and assess student progress over time?

Take a trial lesson first

When reaching out to potential cello teachers, make sure to ask if they offer any trial lessons. Taking a trial lesson can give you fresh insights on a couple of things:

  • Does the teacher speak clearly and ask appropriate questions to the student? How does the teacher respond to the answers the student provided and vice versa?

  • How does the teacher initiate and lead the cello lesson? Is the lesson engaging and fun? How frequent does the teacher play cello and show the technique to the student?

  • Does the instructor give instruction on the technique and musical aspect of music?

  • What’s the teacher like? Friendly, quiet or rather picky? Is the teacher likeable?

  • How often does the teacher give accurate feedback? Does the teacher pay enough attention to detail and correct the student?

  • How does the instructor end the lesson? When the instructor gives assignments or homework, does the student leave the lesson clear on what to work on next?

  • What’s the lesson pace like? Too fast or too slow?

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How to pick the right cello teacher after a trial lesson

Take plenty of time to choose the right cello instructor for you. Besides evaluating the trial lesson and teacher quality, consider these following aspects before making a decision.

Lesson Costs

The average cost for a half hour cello lesson in the US is $35. Live online lessons using video chats typically charge between $35-45 for a half hour lesson. Local in-person cello lessons averages $45 per half hour lesson, while in-person group lessons can cost $25.

Cello instructors without a music degree can charge as little as $45 an hour, and professional instructors with active performance experiences and advanced degrees might charge between $70 to $90 per hour lesson.

Before looking for teachers, make sure to plan your budget and aim for at least 6 to 8 months of taking regular cello lessons to make progress.

Flexible Scheduling

Your ideal cello instructor should offer a flexible scheduling and rescheduling option. Of course, it’s not a good sign when a teacher (or a student) cancels or reschedules lessons too often, but knowing the teacher offers a rescheduling option without change fees can be a plus.

Lesson Reviews

You should always check and read the lesson reviews before picking a cello teacher. If you’re particularly looking for a live online lesson, you will notice the reviews left in the teacher profile.

If 8 or 9 out of 10 reviews are positive, that means the teacher is qualified and likable, providing high-quality cello lessons.

If you want to get in-person lesson recommendations, you can ask friends, neighbors or even find a cello teacher online and ask if they offer lessons in person. 


Not many cello lesson providers require long term commitment or contracts these days, but you’d still want to make sure if there’s a contract required or not before setting up the first lesson. It’s also a good idea for students to ask the teacher how they prefer to be paid, like with a physical check or credit card, and when they need the payment, whether it’s prepaid or weekly.

Also, check what the cancellation or rescheduling system is like to avoid schedule conflicts or fees.

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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.