Over the past seven years, I have noticed a distinct trend of students both young and old, taking an active interest in starting cello classes. I estimate that there is a five to seven fold increase in cello students over this time period. It has come to a stage whereby I get multiple enquiries every day from students looking for a suitable cello teacher in Singapore. Currently there is an imbalance between supply (cello teachers) and demand (cello students) with the scales tipped in favour of teachers.
Conversely, there seems to be a drop in students who are interested to start lessons on the piano. The time frame I am comparing is from twenty years ago till now. In the early days, most parents would want to expose their children to music learning. The defacto music instrument for boys would be violin and that for girls would be piano. However, nowadays part of the market share by violin and piano has been taken by cello as well as other music instruments including saxophone, flute, keyboard and guitar.
On the other hand, student interest in learning the violin or the viola has remained constant over the same time period.
What are the catalysts to this strong interest in many adult or young children learners, in starting cello classes? In my opinion, these are the reasons:
First Catalyst: The Great Renowned Cellist Yo-Yo Ma
Why do so many students want to start adult cello lessons? The catalyst is Kathryn Scott (world renowned pianist) and Yo-yo ma’s (world renowned cellist’s) advertisement for UBS, which went viral in 2012. Check out the video here:
Video Source By: 54321Mystery
From there, many were curious about Yo-yo ma and his performance of Bach’s Cello Suite Number One went viral. It moved a lot of people and encouraged many to take up the cello. This is also my personal favourite cello piece. See his beautiful rendition here:
Video Source By: Grandesmusicos
Maestro Yo-Yo Ma has an exotic background. A Chinese-American cellist born in Paris and a child prodigy, he spent formative years in New York City. His first performance was at age of four and a half. He has a stellar professional background of graduating from Juilliard School and Harvard University and recorded more than 90 albums as well as received 19 Grammy Awards.
With such an inspiring background, a lot of students are motivated to start cello classes.
This is the first catalyst to many searching for a good cello teacher in Singapore, leading to a high demand for teachers with this unique skill set.
Second Catalyst – The Popularity of the Piano Guys and 2Cellos
In recent years, the Piano Guys and 2Cellos gained worldwide popularity and many fans. Their style of playing music is geared towards pop and rock as opposed to purely classical as per the genre specialized by Yo-yo Ma. The appeal of these cello groups emphasizes that playing the cello can be fun and exciting. Sleek video editing brings their appeal to the next level.
2Cellos are Croatian cellists who are classically trained — Luka Sulic and Stjepan Hauser. They have four albums and their speciality range from instrumental arrangements of pop and rock socks, classical songs and songs made popular by movies.
The Piano Guys are from the USA, consisting of Jon Schmidt (Pianist), Stevan Sharp Nelson (Cellist), Paul Anderson and Al Ven Der Beek. They gained mass appeal via youtube since 2010. Their speciality include piano and cello compositions of classical, rock and roll, and contemporary music.
Please see the next video which is one of my favourite videos by the 2Cellos. They literally “Kill” their cello bows in one performance! Well, not literally — most of the horse tail hair of their cello bows break apart during their performance.
Video Source By: 2CELLOS
Many beginner cello students tell me that they are inspired by the Two Cellos and the Piano Guys to start cello classes and look for their cello teacher in Singapore.
Third Catalyst – The Cello is Such an Addiction to Play On!
Indeed, one of the key reasons why many are drawn to learn to play the cello and start adult cello lessons, is that they feel addicted to it. In fact, I have encountered quite a few cases whereby the student is not sure whether to learn the violin or the cello. I invite them to come to Stradivari Strings for a trial lesson to experience both music instruments. Most of the time, these students who were sitting on the fence, decided to learn the cello instead. Why is this so?
You see, when one plays the cello, one actually sits on a chair and hugs the cello as one bows it. This creates vibration from the cello and the low bass tone of the instrument calls out to some students. They feel different vibration across all four strings, using different sections of the cello bow to bow and different bowing techniques. As compared to the violin, the cello’s body is much bigger hence the tone and vibration as experienced by the player is much stronger.
I need to add that there is no “right” or “wrong” music instrument to start learning on. This is based on what each individual feels and prefers.
Fourth Catalyst – The Cello is Unique!
One key reason why there are many students looking to start cello classes is that the cello is unique. In other words, if one knows how to play the cello, one belongs to a very select group of musicians specializing in this unique, bowed strings instrument. Walk around town and in your neighbourhood. You are likely to see violinists or guitarists around carrying their music instruments, as compared to cello. Ask around your acquaintances and take a poll – you are likely to come into contact with a pianist or a ukulele player as opposed to someone who has started adult cello lessons.
This may be important for a young cellist to get into a school of their choice via Direct School Admission programme in Singapore (DSA). There is more competition if one enters via a more “common” skill such as violin. Conversely, it may be easier getting in via a less common music instrument like the cello or viola.
Of course, there is a small percentage of students who need adult cello lessons with a target to achieve ABRSM (Associated Board of Royal School of Music) grade eight, or diploma level. The desired outcome may be to be a full time or a part time cello coach. As there are not many cello teachers in Singapore, the compensation level will be higher compared to other music instruments accordingly.
After reading this article and watching the videos here, if you feel very motivated to start adult cello lessons, call or whattsapp +65-98137769 for a friendly discussion. Aside from regular one to one coaching, we can also organize skype lessons if location is an issue. If you are a cello coach who loves to share your skill with aspiring cellists, do also contact us. We love to hear from you.