Instrument Exploration: Cello

CN Instrument Thumbnails
Adi Goldstein/Unsplash

Age Range: Elementary

Learning Objective: Students will learn to identify the cello by sound and sight.

Free Download: Printable Lesson Plan: Cello

ENGAGE students

ASK. “Have you ever heard of an instrument called the cello? Whisper to a neighbor what you think the cello looks like and which instrument family it belongs in. If you don’t know, make a prediction!”

EXPLORE sounds

EXPLAIN. “The cello is a member of the string family. Instruments in the string family make their sound when a string is plucked or pulled by a bow. The cello is much larger than the violin and can make really low sounds.”

WATCH. Listen to Mikey from Heliopsis describe their instrument! Then, listen to composer and musician Zoe Keating describe and play her original piece for cello, Escape Artist.

REFLECT. Use the following questions to guide discussion or journaling.

  • In the beginning of the video, the composer explains the title. Can you think of a time you wanted to escape something?

  • Zoe mentions moving between a city and a forest. Where do you want to live? What does it sound like there?

  • Did it surprise you that one person could create so many layers of sound? Can you guess how she does it?

EXTEND learning

Choose one or more of the following activities to extend learning.

WATCH. Enjoy this light-hearted video featuring 2CELLOS playing Pirates of the Caribbean.

MOVE. Ask students to move gracefully in a circle, like swans gliding around a pond while listening to “The Swan” from Carnival of the Animals.

WATCH. Continue learning about the cello by watching Class Notes: Technique, Virtuosity, and Soul featuring cellist Nygel Witherspoon.

LEARN. Learn more about composer and musician Zoe Keating.

Logo YourClassical Class Notes

YourClassical is a public media organization and your support makes it possible.

Clean Water Land and Legacy Amendment

This activity is made possible in part by the Minnesota Legacy Amendment’s Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund.

©2024 Minnesota Public Radio. All rights reserved.
Facebook icon
YouTube icon
Instagram icon