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10 Cello Compositions for Adult Beginners to Wow Your Friends

Learning to do anything new is humbling, especially for adults who are used to being masters of their own domain. When you start playing the cello as an adult, it’s important to find that balance of a “beginner’s mind” and a repertoire of musical pieces that inspire you to keep practicing, learning, and growing.

Do yourself a favor and read this fantastic article by Judy Pollard Smith, On the Benefits of Starting Cello Lessons at Age 63.

The following 10 cello compositions will allow you to feel like a “real” cellist – even if you make mistakes now and then. Remember the wise words of Ms. Smith, “When you’re young, you care too much if you error. When you get older, you know that nobody cares — they are too busy worrying about their own mistakes.”

1. “Largo,” From The New World Symphony (Dvorak)

Dvorak’s famous Largo, has been used for everything from documentary soundtracks to commercials, not to mention classical radio station play time. The score is beautiful and never gets old. It’s name – largo – is indicative of the pace at which it moves, making it more accessible to beginner cellists.

Once you’ve progressed to the intermediate level, see if other adult string musicians you know are interested in learning the string quartet version, featuring the cello.

2. “Symphony Theme” (Brahms)

Brahms is one of 10 romantic composers all string musicians should know. His Symphony Theme was written featuring violins. However, the digital download, Easy Cello Solos For Beginners ($8.99), includes an arrangement showcasing the cello.

3. Bouree 1 from Cello Suite #3 (Bach)

Here’s a YouTube video of an experienced cellist playing Bach’s famous Bouree 1 from Cello Suite #3. It’s found in another helpful book of “cello songs that don’t sound like nursery rhymes,” The Student Cellist: Bach ($9.99). Already some of the most famous cello compositions of all time, Bach’s Cello Suites became a “household sound” due to Yo-Yo Ma’s rise to pop culture fame. Yo-Yo learned them one measure at a time – and so can you.

4. “Hallelujah” (Leonard Coen)

This beginner’s version of Leonard Coen’s Hallelujah ($9.99), was arranged by the Brooklyn Duo. Do you have a child or family member who plays piano? What a great way to express your love of music together via a gorgeous duet.

5. “The Scientist” (Cold Play)

Tired of the slow and melancholic tunes that abound for the deeply moving sound of the cello? Sounds like you’re ready for some cello-centric, rock-and-roll sheet music. Notation for, The Scientist, ($2.99) is available for any bass clef instrument, so feel free to share with your bass-playing colleagues.

6. “Walking on Sunshine” (Katrina & the Waves)

Bet you didn’t see this one coming. Nothing about the radio version says, “cello” at first listen, but this arrangement of Walking on Sunshine ($12.99) for a string quartet sounds fantastic, is fun to play and can be a great way to shake-up classical or love-song motifs if you’re playing for a friend or family member’s wedding or gathering.

7. “With or Without You” (U2)

U2’s song, With or Without You, combines plaintive and sultry with rock star overtones. This arrangement of, With or Without You ($6.99), was done by one of our favorite contemporary groups, 2 Cellos.

8. “Dancing Queen” (ABBA)

Here’s another fun dance tune and a wedding reception (or pre-wedding cocktail hour) favorite – ABBA’s Dancing Queen ($2.99). Once you’ve mastered that, stock up on some more popular cello songs geared for more intermediate players.

9. “I Got Rhythm” (Gershwin)

Are you a musical fanatic? It’s not always easy finding show tunes arranged specifically for cellists, which is why you’ll enjoy thumbing through Play Gershwin For Cello ($13.25). There are varying degrees of difficulty, but the large majority of the pieces are accessible for beginner and intermediate students.

10. “Game of Thrones Theme” (Ramin Djwadi)

This was one of the pieces included in our recent post, Age Appropriate Violin Songs for Beginners, and we also like this solo cello version of the Game of Thrones Theme ($4.99), as well as a composer-copyrighted version ($10.99), arranged for piano and cello.

Whether you choose to perform a solo “concert” or get a group of fellow musicians together for practice and camaraderie, these 10 cello compositions for adult beginners will wow your friends and propel you forward along your path as a cellist.

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