My Favorite Pieces for Beginners
As you progress in your cello career you will eventually look back to the pieces that you first played. I think it is important to keep those pieces alive in your repertoire for fun and for learning. It is amazing what you can learn from going back and playing some of the first pieces you ever played on cello.
Minuet No. 2, J.S. Bach
One of my favorite pieces for beginners is from the Suzuki Cello Book No. 1, Minuet No. 2 by J.S. Bach. This piece is perfect for a first solo performance.
The left hand notes are not too difficult which allows you to focus more on the right hand aspects like phrasing and bow articulation. It has a nice balance of long and short notes, with the opportunity for the student to create some very nice phrasing. Things like phrasing can be difficult at first and can be addressed by your cello teacher in your lessons. I would recommend this piece to any beginner and have used it as a first solo for many of my cello students.
Suite No.1, Prelude, J.S. Bach
Another great piece for beginning cello players by J.S. Bach is the unaccompanied cello Suite No.1, Prelude. This movement is very popular in the cello world and most cellists have played this Prelude before. I personally like the Barenreiter edition of this piece because of the choice of bowings used.
This one is a little more technical for the left hand but once you get it that is an accomplishment by itself. Along with the technical left hand the right hand is made up of a variety of different slurs using a very legato, connected bow stroke. Once you can get this piece down I wouldn’t consider any student a beginner anymore. This is and will always be one of my favorite pieces to play and to teach.
In Dreamland, W.H Squire
Last, another great solo piece for a beginner is by a favorite composer of mine, William Henry Squire. He writes many solo pieces for beginners that I love and have taught over several years. “In Dreamland,” by W.H Squire, is on the top of that list.
It is meant to be accompanied by piano but also sounds great unaccompanied. It has a nice contrast of long and short notes in the right hand, and enough technicality in the left hand to wow an audience. It might not look too hard on paper but this piece requires a lot of practice and control. Definitely a great piece to work on with your cello teacher at your lessons.
There are, of course, many more great pieces for the beginning cello player, but these were a few of my favorites. Go ahead and give these pieces a listen so you can enjoy and play them one day. Happy practicing!