Starting from the end: A proposal of curriculum guidelines for beginning cellists


Traditional cello pedagogy for beginning students has remained largely unchanged since around the mid-1900s. The traditional curriculum for these students is usually based on the content of books and note reading only. However, this approach may be harmful since it leaves behind detailed basic technique. Also, it does not prepare the student for the advanced level because traditional pedagogical philosophy limits technical contents at the beginning level, avoiding some techniques such as shifting and out-of-the-string bow strokes. This research is a proposal of guidelines for a curriculum for beginning cellists based on sequences of skill development. An analysis of the cello pedagogies of Margaret Rowell, Phyllis Young, and Irene Sharp provides a foundation for a beginning cello curriculum based on kinesthetic, visual, and aural approaches for the student.

Each one of these master cello teachers provided a series of instruction sequences for cello students based on the advanced technique. Differently from the traditional books, these non-traditional pedagogies defined their curriculum beginning with some skills traditionally considered advanced. The curriculum guidelines will be illustrated by eight instruction sequences for beginning cellists, such as the development of shifting skills, bounced bow strokes, and the exploration of the cello fingerboard mapping. These sequences are crucial in developing an ideal approach for beginning cellists that provides an earlier preparedness for the advanced level. In addition, the sequences will develop a more reliable basic technique that nurtures body awareness and aural skills instead of focusing on note reading only. In addition, the purpose of the curriculum guidelines is to offer a holistic approach to cello students by delivering instructions from visual, kinesthetic, and aural perspectives. As a result, the prevention of injuries is a major element of these sequences since body awareness is developed as part of the curriculum. Lastly, the note reading is seen as one of the required skills but it needs to be developed in a ‘safe zone,’ where the cello student plays technical content below their beginning level to avoid the risk of developing bad habits

— DMA Recital —

Friday, November 1, 2019 | 7:00 p.m. | Choir Hall (Room 010)

Cello Suite in E-Flat Johann Sebastian Bach

I. Prelude (1685-1750)

II. Allemande

III. Courante

IV. Sarabande

V. Bourrée I & II

VI. Gigue

Pequena Suíte Heitor Villa-Lobos

I. Romancette (1887-1959)

II. Legendária

III. Harmonias soltas

IV. Fugato (all’antica)

V. Melodia

VI. Gavotte-Scherzo


Cello Sonata in D minor Dimitri Shostakovich

I. Allegro non troppo (1906-1975)

II. Allegro

III. Largo

IV. Allegro

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Cello pedagogy, Beginning cellist, Non-traditional pedagogy