The cello might be the world’s most delightful instrument. Not only can it carry a soulful melody, but it also provides a soothing lower harmony that adds depth to any arrangement.
When you first start learning how to play the instrument, your instructor might have you play something familiar to get to know the sequences, harmonies, and style the cello provides.
There is nothing quite like the lusty, full sounds that get produced.
What makes the cello unique for modern music is that it replicates the tone and quality of the human voice.
Not only does this create automatic comfort and excitement, but it also develops emotional movements that can inspire others to take up the arts.
If you want to learn more about the cello, a fantastic place to start is with the ten most popular songs you can download today.
10 Most Popular Songs for the Cello
When you think about songs for the cello, the first compositions that come to mind are often from Bach to Beethoven. If you want to learn how to play this instrument, something more modern can be helpful. An excellent example of a current composition is “Happy Together” by The Turtles.
If you’re thinking about playing the cello and aren’t sure if it is the right instrument for you, it can sometimes help to review some of today’s best songs and compositions for it.
Although every list is subjective, these are the songs that I feel are the best at representing what the cello can do outside of the classical genre.
1. Happy Together
What makes this a fun song to play on the cello is the beat. Although you wouldn’t get the melody in a complete arrangement, this piece gives you the feeling of what it is like to put in some emotion from the background.
Even if you play along with it on YouTube, it’s worth it to get the feeling of how you’ll encourage movement by creating predictable tones and chords.
2. Over the Rainbow
The cello solo from this song is complex and challenging, but it is also one of the most beautiful modern compositions for the instrument.
Since most instructors will take you through this piece once your skills and strength reach an appropriate level, it helps to become familiar with it.
3. Stairway to Heaven
If you ask the staff at any guitar store what song they hate the most, this one is on virtually every list.
Everyone who plays the strings is familiar with the composition, but what isn’t utilized as often is a cello rendering of it.
The piece is somewhat challenging to learn as a beginner, so you might want to think about listening to it first.
4. With or Without You
This classic U2 song has a variation written for two cellos that are simply outstanding. If you don’t know someone else with this instrument, see if there is a double bass in the area who can play along with you.
It will take some time to learn, but you’ll be singing all of the lyrics in your head as you proceed through the number.
5. My Heart Will Go On
Since the cello does an excellent job of replicating the human voice, you can substitute the vocalist part of this composition with the instrument.
You’ll get the haunting tones that cause those in the audience who know the piece to sing along. Since it’s so familiar, this song works well as a solo piece during those first recitals.
6. Amazing Grace
With everyone knowing this classic hymn, playing the melody on the cello can be a fantastic first experience.
The composition is relatively easy to play once you can translate sheet music to methodology, which is why many instructors have it as the first song during the learning process.
It features numerous single notes, and you can adjust the tempo to fit whatever your preferences might be.
7. Every Breath You Take
When you want something a little more complex to learn, this song delivers an emotional response almost every time it gets heard on the cello.
It was written in 1983, quickly becoming the biggest hit for the year in North America.
The cello brings out the signature piece from The Police, delivering a memorable performance opportunity for players of all levels.
8. 10538 Overture
When you listen to the debut album from Electric Light Orchestra, it’s raw, experimental, and almost strange compared to the other albums that would follow. Jeff Lynne, one of the band’s founders, is a cellist.
You can hear his work on the song taking the place of more traditional instruments, creating an outstanding piece that will quickly become one of your newest favorite songs.
9. I Am the Walrus
Although songs like “Strawberry Fields Forever” and “Penny Lane” get all of the attention on Magical Mystery Tour, this fun song delivers an outstanding cello solo that you can’t help but appreciate.
If you’re used to this band’s iconic sound, you might find the singing to be a little disconcerting. Once the cello hits, you’re in for a fun experience!
10. I’m Shipping up to Boston
Although the Dropkick Murphies aren’t a band that you’d think about when looking at modern cello work, it has a fantastic part for the instrument.
This composition has a unique attitude about it, delivering the accordion, banjo, and others you wouldn’t typically associate with heavy metal or harder rock.
What Are the Benefits of Playing the Cello?
Although playing the cello requires a bit of an investment, you can temper the costs a little by leasing one from your local music store.
When you shop online for a cello, you’ll find some half-size models retailing for around $100. The entry-level student versions retail for about $300.
You want to avoid these instruments whenever possible because the quality is not there for your playing.
These entry-level cellos can let you decide if this instrument is something you’d like to play, nothing more.
If you want a learning instrument, you can expect to pay approximately $2,500 for a new cello.
At this price, you’ll get an average-sounding instrument that works for recitals, local gigs, and at-home practice.
When you’re ready to join the local orchestra or symphony, the D Z Strad Model 600 is the cello you’ll want. It’s handmade, offering a two-piece back composed of flamed maple.
It delivers a smooth, focused sound with warm tones and precise roundness. You’ll get the strings, rosin, case, and a bow with your investment.
The 4/4 model is appropriate for most adults and some teens. You’ll want the 3/4 model for all but the youngest of players to maximize the sound.
A bow upgrade is also necessary if you want to maximize the full sound possibilities of the instrument. The CodaBow Diamond GX does an excellent job of getting this result.
■ Why Choose the Cello as Your Primary Instrument?
|It helps you start getting stronger.||• The cello is not the most accessible instrument to wield. |
• Even though you’re sitting while playing it, the muscle movements required to support its weight while using the correct bowing techniques require excellent posture and core strength.
• You’ll need to work on staying in shape to maximize your full potential with this investment.
|You have a marketable skill as a musician.||• Cello players are surprisingly difficult to find. |
• This instrument has fallen out of favor for contemporary compositions unless you play modern classical, folk, Bluegrass, or country.
• If you excel in your learning, it’s possible to become a guest musician for numerous bands because they want the warmth and depth that only your playing can provide.
|It provides memory enrichment opportunities.||• When you learn how to play a complicated instrument, the brain areas associated with memory recall develop higher resiliency levels. |
• If training begins before age 7, the findings are consistent across the board.
• The stimulation across both infrastructures creates a lifetime of benefits.
|You can improve your career prospects or earn better grades.||• Musicians often have better grades than their counterparts who don’t play an instrument. |
• This outcome translates to more career opportunities (including promotions) for adults.
• Since the cello requires numerous skills that must get implemented simultaneously, you can excel beyond even what other artists can accomplish.
The best benefit you can get when playing the cello is that you have fun. Far too often, we settle for something that we feel forced to do.
If you enjoy music and appreciate a challenge, you’ll love how the cello quickly becomes part of your life. It is a formidable instrument, but it also provides a sense of accomplishment when learning its intricacies.
You earn every step you get to take when counting yourself as a cello player.
Why Choose These Songs as the Best for the Cello?
It can feel boring to play the cello when you first start. The instrument is often relegated to the background in a standard composition.
When you get to play the melody, it’s usually a simple arrangement that barely taps into the artist’s talent.
That’s why most musicians look to the classical concertos for the cello when they want to challenge themselves.
Composers like Brahms, Bruch, Bach, Beethoven, Britten, and Shostakovich (someone had to have a last name other than one that started with a “B”) deliver demanding expertise and masterful interludes that bring out the full qualities of the instrument.
When you think of something modern to play, songs like “Happy Together” have enough familiarity without demanding a lot of the instrument.
Even though the original doesn’t have massive string parts, you can take on the quarters and eighths to hit verses and chorus to play on the instrument.
You just might not want to put a French horn on your head while playing like the band did during one of their live television performances.
Where to Purchase a Cello to Play
If you have a local luthier who makes handmade instruments, that should be your first stop when shopping for a cello.
Although the cost is often higher, you’ll support the local economy while using something made by a fellow artist.
Most local luthiers have excellent warranties on their instruments. Since they built the cello, they can quickly correct minor issues or finish repairs that might be necessary.
When you don’t have a local luthier, the next best solution is to shop online. Although stores like Amazon might feel impersonal, you’ll have more access to a broad range of instrument sizes and styles.
It is much faster to find a cello that fits your needs at a price your budget can afford.
The final option is to work with a local music store.
You’ll have fewer selections than what is available online and higher prices (for commission-based transactions), but it should deliver a high-quality instrument that you can use forever.
A Final Thought about Learning How to Play the Cello
It took me a while to start learning the stringed instruments after the guitar. When I was growing up, our local band needed brass players.
For the first six years of my musical life, I focused on the trumpet, baritone, tuba, French horn, and trombone.
Once I finished my college studies, I got into playing the violin and cello because my friends were in a band and needed the help.
Over the years, I’ve had the cello rise to become one of my favorite instruments. It has the piano’s versatility, the quirkiness of the trombone, and the inviting audio hugs of the viola and violin.
When you’re in a room with an experienced cellist playing, there isn’t another experience like it in the world today.
I won’t pretend that my skills on the cello are anything masterful. Even with continued practice, my goal is to play for quartets or our local orchestra every so often.
That’s my pathway. When you explore the most popular songs for this instrument, you’re pursuing a journey that makes sense for your needs.