How do I Become a Cello Teacher?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

To become a cello teacher a person must have strong teaching skills and expertise in performance on the cello. The way people acquire these skills can vary. Where a person wants to teach can matter because in some settings certain levels of formal education are required.

Man playing a guitar
Man playing a guitar

Anyone who wants to become a cello teacher needs to begin by learning to play the cello. Gaining expertise in string instruments can take many years and people are best served by beginning study and practice early in life, preferably in elementary school years. Most public school programs are not sufficient to confer expertise, and people will be served by participating in youth symphonies that demand greater skills and by getting private lessons to enhance skills and improve technique. Clearly, constant practice is needed.

With these experiences, some students who would like to become a cello teacher may be able to begin in middle or high school by offering private lessons to beginners. This can be a handy way to make a little money and it helps to determine whether people would like to pursue cello instruction as a career. Some students are so talented by the time they leave high school that they can immediately begin this career, probably by joining a symphony and offering private lessons on the side. Others may want to study more so they can teach in larger venues.

If people plan to become a cello teacher that could work in a school setting, they may need teaching credentials to achieve this. After high school graduation, students would attend college and major in music education or performance. With a bachelor’s degree in on these subjects, they might then get a teaching credential, which takes another year or two. It’s rare to teach in settings where only the cello is taught, and it’s also true that many schools have eliminated orchestra and string programs due to budget concerns.

Still, the person wanting to become a cello teacher in any public or private school will need to widen their formal training to include ability to instruct in other string instruments. Most string programs teach violin, viola, cello, and bass, and during college years, students should consider learning all of these instruments to a certain level of expertise. Even those planning to become a college cello teacher, where a master’s or doctoral degree might be required will usually teach the four main string instruments and should have rudimentary skill in playing them.

Less formal ways to become a cello teacher who may or may not be paid can include becoming a section leader or section coach. While playing in symphonies, people might be offered these positions or they could work in them for youth symphonies. Many cellists hold several teaching and performance jobs to make a living and they might be most successful when their teaching strategies develop improvement in their students’ abilities.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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Discussion Comments


I think your choice of cello playing style is the most important thing to consider while you are teaching. Students respond to different things, and it is always good to have an excellent cello playing style.

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