Figuring Out How to Teach Cello Arpeggios

As long as I have been studying or teaching cello, learning arpeggios consisted of seeing an arpeggio and trying to play it. This was fine; even workable, but as I came to discover, not the best way to learn or teach cello arpeggios that would be consistently in tune. This post gives you a way to start learning three-octave arpeggios with free preparatory studies.

Some students struggled mightily with the larger spaces. Other students didn’t understand the concepts behind the across-the-string fingerings. All in all, even the most talented and advanced students only played a perfect arpeggio about 1/3 of the time, which wasn’t great for auditions!

I became acutely aware of the lack of an actual cello method for teaching arpeggios when Theresa Villani (a wonderful cellist and teacher) reached out to ask if I had one. Since I had no idea where to start, I did quite a bit of brain-storming… and wrote a scale method instead!

Learning Three-Octave Scales on the Cello

After Learning Scales came Learning Arpeggios!

After Learning Three-Octave Scales on the Cello was published at the end of August 2019, I still didn’t quite know which arpeggio fingerings to pick for the book but at least I had a blueprint for how to teach notes and spaces. I finally settled on three distinct fingerings for Learning Three-Octave Arpeggios on the Cello. The first fingering, used in the Galamian Scale System for Cello (among other books) is a little like a staircase; you go up the C string, then over to the G, then up the G, then over to the D, then up the D, then over to the A. 

Learning Three-Octave Arpeggios on the Cello

 The second fingering is very straightforward: you go across to the A string and shift up the A string.

Learning Three-Octave Arpeggios on the Cello

 The third fingering, used in Klengel Technical Studies for Cello, Volume One, shifts up to the thumb on the D string and then has you play the top octave of the arpeggio in thumb position. ​

Learning Three-Octave Arpeggios on the Cello

 Each of these three fingerings has something to teach cellists. A study of all three fingerings will give you a comprehensive knowledge of fingerboard geography and larger shifts on the cello.

Learning Three-Octave Arpeggios on the Cello
Learning Three-Octave Arpeggios on the Cello Sample Page

Here are the Free Cello Arpeggio Preparatory Studies!

Cello Arpeggios Shifting Study

Free Cello Arpeggio Preparatory Studies 1

Cello Arpeggios Fifth Position Study

Free Cello Arpeggio Preparatory Studies 2

Cello Arpeggio Spacing Across Strings

Free Cello Arpeggio Preparatory Studies 3

Putting the Arpeggio Together

Free Cello Arpeggio Preparatory Studies 4

Cello Arpeggios: Note Spaces for Fingering No. 2

Free Cello Arpeggio Preparatory Studies 5

Playing Across Strings for Fingering No. 2

Free Cello Arpeggio Preparatory Studies 6

Cello Arpeggios: Putting the Notes Together (Fingering No. 2)

Free Cello Arpeggio Preparatory Studies 7

Cello Arpeggios Shifting to Thumb (Fingering No. 3)

Free Cello Arpeggio Preparatory Studies 8

Cello Arpeggios
Learning More Thumb Position Notes for Fingering No. 3

Free Cello Arpeggio Preparatory Studies 9

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