Let’s talk cello progress.

Learning the cello is a long, long journey of consistent practice, review, and improvement.

Like learning a new language, learning an instrument like the cello requires commitment for years to really improve at it, but without any sort of tracking method, it can be impossible to really know if you’re improving at it, not improving at it, or even developing bad habits that can lead to injuries down the line.

Lucky for you, tonebase has just released a revolutionary feature that allows you to pinpoint exactly where you are in your cello progress, regardless of level.

Here is our Head of Cello Daniel Lelchuk introducing our new feature to the tonebase platform, Practice Plans:

If you'd like to experience the benefits of tonebase's new Practice Plans firsthand, click here to sign up for a free 14-day trial.

However, if you’re looking for something more old-fashioned, we’ll cover a few methods to track your cello progress all on your own.

Let’s jump into the best methods to track your progress at the cello, so you can excel at faster rates than ever before.

1. Setting clear goals for cello improvement

The first thing every aspiring cellist should do when looking to track their cello progress is to set clear, manageable, and measurable goals.

What are you looking to accomplish as a cellist? Do you want to build your interpretive language more, or refine your technique so you can play more advanced repertoire? Maybe you want to learn some extended techniques?

These are things to consider when assessing how you will go about tracking your progress on the cello.

Now, it should be noted that sometimes it can be quite tricky to know exactly what you should improve. Analyzing your cello progress does require a certain level of understanding when it comes to what areas of cello technique exist.

Also, it can be quite confusing to figure out what repertoire will best match your level at certain skills on the cello.

This is why we invented our new Practice Plan feature, a revolutionary approach to cello progress tracking built into the tonebase app.

In case you haven’t heard of tonebase, tonebase Cello is a massive online library of cello lessons and courses from the world’s best cellists. Teachers on the platform include Juilliard and Curtis professors, Grammy winners, and many more amazing mentors, such as Mischa Maisky, Jan Vogler, and Tina Guo.

Now, as a tonebase member, you can fill out a detailed survey that outlines all of your skills on the cello, such as left-hand technique, right-hand technique, scales, and more. 

You’ll receive a personalized track for improvement for the cello, tailored to your exact needs.

Click here to sign up for a free trial to tonebase, and take the survey to find out the best path forward for you as a cellist.

practice plan assessment on tonebase cello
Practice Plan assessment on tonebase Cello

2. Daily cello practice logs

While tonebase’s new Practice Plan feature is the most efficient way to know your progress, keeping daily practice logs can also offer value to you as you make progress.

Start with a piece of paper or a new document on your iPad, and write down what repertoire you’re working on, and what element of this repertoire you’re struggling with. Maybe you’re working on a concerto excerpt, and want better control over your phrasing. Maybe you’re running into issues with a specific technique in a Piatti Caprice.

These are issues you’ll want to track over time, so jot them down on a sheet and revisit them every day when you practice to keep track of your improvement.

It’s a very hands on approach which requires more effort from your end, but if this is something that suits you more then give it a shot!

3. Record yourself playing

Taking recordings of yourself (both audio and video) while playing the cello is a wonderful way to measure your progress.

Prop your phone up somewhere sturdy so you can clearly see the neck and bow, and take some videos of you running through your current rep.

Now do the same maybe a week or two later, and see how you’ve improved!

Check for phrasing, are you hearing the melodies in your video as you hear them in your head?

Also listen for intonation, you can even compare yourself to an in-tune piano for reference. These are points of progress you can identify through consistent recording.

Again, this will not solve all of your progress tracking needs, but it is a nice effort that will offer a glimpse into how you’re moving along with your current repertoire.

4. In-person cello lessons

The best way to track your progress without question is through the observation of a private instructor week-to-week.

If regular private cello lessons are an option for you, these lessons will open doors to attentive progress observation in each lesson, aside from the vast benefits of personalized/real-time feedback from a professional.

However, if in-person lessons are not an option for you, then be sure to explore online alternatives, such as the live + community features included in a tonebase subscription.

tonebase members get to participate in weekly live events, where they can interact with other members of the community. This provides a great opportunity to gain feedback from both the cello mentors on the events as well as the other cellists, thus advancing your ability to track your progress at the cello.

If you combine this ability with the new progress tracking capabilities unlocked via tonebase’s new Practice Plan feature, you’ll have a detailed understanding of where you are in your development on the cello.

personalized content path to help you excel at the cello
Personalized content path to help you excel at the cello


As you can see, there are plenty of ways to track your progress on the cello utilizing either new online capabilities, or more old-fashioned techniques.

Whether or not you decide to take the up-to-date approach to cello progress tracking/planning, you’ll still have a great view into where you are in your development as a cellist and how fast you're growing in your skills.

However, simply tracking your progress isn’t enough to know where to go next on the cello.

It’s important to create a plan forward based on your learnings that is tailored to the areas of improvement you should focus on.

This is ultimately why we created our brand new Practice Plan feature, a tool that gives you as the aspiring cellist complete guidance on the next steps to take in your practice journey.

If you want to explore tonebase’s new Practice Plan feature entirely for free and discover exactly where you are on the cello, click here to sign up for a free 14-day trial.

You’ll immediately unlock hundreds of state of the art cello courses, be able to participate in live events, interact with the community, receive hundreds of custom annotated scores and workbooks, and immediately accelerate your cello progress.

We hope to see you in the forums!

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Dave McLellan

Concert & Chamber Musician

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