An online cello forum might be a strange thing to write a blog about, but it’s a very important component to learning the cello as an adult – so it certainly deserves some words. Let’s start by digging into term “forum” (or more appropriately, a community) and figure out what a forum is all about.
Once upon a time when we heard the word “community” we thought about our neighbors; those people we saw on our walks, the people who we bumped into at the store, the people who all rallied around the same schools. Or maybe we thought about a church community; those who we saw on Sundays and at monthly potlucks.
But since the advent of the Internet, the word “community” has grown to mean so much more. We now have online communities where people can engage with one another from all corners of the globe in super-niche topics with the purpose of sharing and learning from each other. It’s a time where our communal knowledge base spans the universe vs. just our geographical vicinity.
And of all the online forums out there, the cello communities are, of course, my favorite. So what exactly is an online cello community?
An online cello community is a place for people to gather virtually via the internet in order to share their common interest; the cello. It is a valuable gathering place where members feel at home asking questions, sharing information and posting videos of their cello practices and performances.
I’ve had first hand experience seeing a thriving online cello community in action. My focus is on teaching adults how to play the cello, and I do this through an online platform in Cello Discovery which has a robust online cello community within the site.
Learning new things in solidarity might work for a few people, but the majority of learners like to engage with others while they learn.
- They feel a camaraderie knowing others might be struggling in some of the same ways they are struggling.
- They need to feel safe posting a video of the very first cello piece they learned.
- They want a place to freely ask questions and find answers quickly.
- And they need like-minded, supportive cheerleaders when they feel like they can’t go on.
A large percentage of students who take on the cello as adults are around retirement age. These are students who have been successful in their careers but who feel out of their element when it comes to playing the cello. So, being able to post without anyone REALLY knowing who they are is appealing.
Finding the right online community might take some time. Though most online communities have a set of guidelines or rules which members must abide by in order to keep the community a space for nurturing, some communities can be more volatile than others. It’s important to spend some time observing how members interact with one another to be certain it is a positive, nurturing environment.
What are some of the best free online cello communities?
There are a surprising number of online cello communities flowing through the web.
Here are the best free options on Facebook:
- Mid-Life Cellist – By far my favorite online cello community. To date it has about 2.8K members. The majority of people are silent observers, but a considerable number of people post regularly. It’s a positive, nurturing place filled with mid-life cello learners, along with a number of professionals & teachers happy to share their expertise and answer questions.
- The Apprentice Cellist Club – Similar to the mid-life group but with about 2.2K members as of date. You will find that a surprising number of people are in both groups.
- International Cello Society – This group currently has about 23K members and the members range from adult beginners to international concert artists. There is a wealth of information over there but because the audience is so large, this forum has its share of negativity and divisive personalities. People need to be careful when posting on this forum if they are sensitive to critique.
- Cello Community International – This group has about 6K members but it’s mostly a place where people post promotional material. You will likely find information about up-and-coming cellists, summer workshops and international cello festivals. Not a lot of member engagement, however.
Here are some of the better known, free cello communities outside of Facebook:
- Quora is a great information resource for everything and they have a fairly active community answering all your cello questions.
- Reddit is the Wild-Wild West. People are not at all afraid to say it like it is on Reddit. No mincing words on that platform, so if internet trolls intimidate you, I would recommend staying away from Reddit as an active member. But if you are tempted to check it out, try to be content as a fly on the wall because as a silent observer, you will find there is worthy information within the posts which could help you in your cello journey.
- Youtube has quite a few educational cello channels. Some Youtubers are happy to engage if you ask questions in the comments of one of their videos, etc. Some of the best channels are: Helga Winold (only one video, but it’s GREAT!), Abagail McHugh-Griffa, Julia Morneweg, Pablo Fernandez, Carolyn Hagler.
Paid cello community: Cello Discovery is a website I developed and launched in 2021. We have a robust membership and a community of very kind, supportive adult learners. The benefit of being in a private community is that you will engage more often with the members within the learning community. Cello Discovery members are often working on the music within our curriculum which means others in the community are often on the same level, working on the same literature.
If you are someone who likes to learn independently (or not) there is so much information to be learned and support to be gained with an online cello community. But again, vet each community. Make sure there are professionals who can interject when there is a need for experienced pedagogy to answer a question.
If you want to join an online community, you usually need to accept a set of rules. Many communities are free and there are a handful of communities which are part of a bigger program. Decide if it’s worth the price before you join a paid option.
You can, and should, stay in an online cello community throughout your cello journey (assuming you are finding the community a useful resource for information and positive morale, and the dialogue keeps you motivated and progressing). If you believe the cello community is making you feel insecure about your playing or the comments are not helpful, then it’s time to hop out. There’s no need to stay in an environment which feels counter-productive and ego deflating.
Though the traditional method of learning on a one-on-one basis remains the preference for many adult learners, the 21st century learner has so many options available to assist in the quest to become a proficient cellist. Zoom lessons, live workshops, group class lessons, online courses and online communities are just a few of those options. So once you settle on the right method of instruction, start interacting with your online cello community of choice. Let that be your source of accountability and and your go-to source for great information to help you succeed. It will be well worth it!