The cello is shaped like a violin but only larger. It is a member of the string family of orchestral instruments. The full size version is roughly 49 inches high. It is made of maple wood and spruce and takes its shape from a violin. The main difference is due to its size and there is a different way of playing the cello. The following are the basic techniques in playing the cello.
1) The player sits on a chair and straddles the instrument.
Due to the size of the instrument, the proper way of playing it is seated on a stool or a straight back chair. The neck of the instrument is at level with the player's shoulder. In order to have the instrument within reach or to be under the control of the musician, the instrument is placed between the open legs of the musician, effectively straddling the cello. That is why they say the most intimate of all instruments is the cello for being so up close and personal to the musician's body.
2) The left hand plays the frets while the right hand plays the bow.
This is the classical stance. This is done by having both arms upright at right angles to the body. The left hand holds the neck of the instrument to press down on the strings to create the notes. The right hand holds the bow by the fingertips and gently caresses the cello's strings thus producing the vibration needed to produce the sound. The note changes are done by differing finger placements on the neck of the cello. Also, through the bows undulations, different notes are produced on the symmetry of the vibration and the pressure exerted by the fingers on the strings while vibrating.
3) The end pin is secured on the floor.
With all the sinuous movement between the musician and the cello, it must not be forgotten that the instrument made of wood and of such a size is quite a heavy instrument. So in order to secure the cello, the end pin must be attached. There are two options on the end pin. The first option is to have the end pin with a rubber head so that the cello does not slip when placed in its playing position. In the more formal setting, there are grooves or endpin holes on the stage in order to fasten the cello when the orchestra begins to play.
Many musical pieces have been made by masters for the cello. The long low tones and the high notes it can produce show the versatility of the instrument not only as part of an ensemble but as a soloist as well. This stems from the intimate moments shared by the musician and the cello.
The cello player practically embraces the cello and straddles it while being secured to the floor thus making the instrument one with the musician. In such a position and with the inspiration to make beautiful music, it is no wonder that the cello is one of the favorite musical instruments in an orchestra.