Cello Guidelines

Home - Graduation - Cello Guidelines



Fluent Memory

Rhythmic Integrity

Accurate Pitch



Beautiful Tone


Appropriate Dynamics


At the higher graduation levels more skill is expected, particularly in the subjective aspects. Even at graduation level I and II, no recording should be sent in where the student is stumbling with memory, playing wrong notes, and struggling to keep a steady beat. If a student makes a recording that is beautiful but plays one note slightly out of tune you can submit it.  But, if the student has memory or rhythm problems more work is needed before submitting a recording. If a student has major problems in one or two areas then encourage the student to keep working on the piece and record it after more improvements are made.

Recordings can include accompaniment, at the teacher’s discretion. If using a recorded track, it should not include the cello in the background.

Cello LEVEL I: Bach Minuet 2


  • Clean string crossings.
  • G# in measure 23.
  • Play repeats without stumbling or stopping.
  • The ability to play the greater variety of note values and bowings in the minuet while keeping a steady beat is a special challenge, so give specific attention to this.

Cello LEVEL II: Bach Allegro Moderato


  • Martele quarter notes and legato eighth notes throughout.
  • Measures 30-33 in tune, with clear string crossings.
  • In-tune extensions (may be found in various places depending on your fingering).
  • Steady running eighth notes.
  • More high developed skills in the subjective aspects of tone, phrasing and dynamics.

Cello LEVEL III: Vivaldi Sonata in E Minor, 1st and 2nd Movements

All of the guidelines of subjective and objective skills apply. More sophistication in the areas of tone, vibrato, phrasing and dynamics should be evident. Take the repeats as they are in the recording.
First Movement

  • Steady eighth note pulse.
  • Good intonation throughout, especially “in between positions (1/2 , 3 1/2, etc) ms 12-13 are difficult.
  • Hold ties long enough.
  • Accurate rhythm in measures 9-10.
  • Good vibrato is needed.
  • Take first repeat only

Second Movement

  • Steady tempo, short eighths, legato sixteenths throughout.
  • Clean string crossings, particularly measures 3-6, 29-32.
  • Good intonation in measure 23 scale.
  • Good intonation in measures 3-6, correct intervals across strings.
  • Correct syncopation in measures 14-16.
  • Measures 29-32 is the “grand hot spot” of them all. Intonation, good extensions, clean string crossings.
  • Take first repeat only

Cello LEVEL IV: Faure Elegy

All guidelines apply. Pay special attention to tone and vibrato. The student must have excellent bow control to play this piece well. Accompaniment is encouraged but not required.

  • Rhythm. Measures 30-34, 47-51, correct syncopations, even triplets.
  • Measures 36-38 must be clean and accurate and in tempo. Tempo should scrupulously follow the dynamic markings; they are the composer’s not the editor’s.

Cello LEVEL V: Boccherini Concerto in B Flat

Those submitting recordings for this, the highest graduation level, should have commensurately high standards of performance. Graduation from this level is truly an honor, for to play Boccherini well requires not only advanced playing skills, but musical maturity. This will be apparent in how aspect of tone, phrasing and appropriate dynamics are dealt with. Besides these aspects, the student should have been exposed to enough music to have sensitivity to the appropriate musical style. Accompaniment is encouraged but not required.