Founded in 2013, the Music con Brio cello program is a wonderful addition to our program offerings. From rhythmic bass lines to soaring melodies, cello is one of the most versatile instruments in the world.  Students in our cello program will participate in a fun approach to learning music and a comprehensive understanding of the instrument which builds confident cellists and well-rounded musicians. All students attend the program twice per week: once for a 45-minute group class and once for a 30-minute partner lesson. The program runs for 15 weeks each in the fall and in the spring, and we also offer an optional 4-week summer session.


The core curriculum of the Music con Brio cello program closely aligns with the violin curriculum – a custom-designed teaching method devised by co-founders Carol Carlson and Amber Dolphin, but also including extensive input from our cello teachers, integrating elements of the Suzuki method, fiddle, folk songs, and traditional music lessons. Students learn cello technique, rhythm, and ear training hands-on from Day One. Whether they are stomping out rhythms, singing intervals, or practicing their bow grip with a pencil, our cello teachers make sure a strong foundation is set for all our students to ensure future success on their musical journey.

We ask all our students to earn taking home their cellos. This means two things: that students must master a set of foundational skills to ensure correct (and injury-free!) practicing, and that students learn how to properly take care of their instruments. It also enables students to build up their own investment in their skills, and helps them take ownership of their learning.

We begin by teaching a solid cello hold, good cello playing posture, and proper bow grip.

These skills take a great deal of muscle coordination, and need time to develop. In order to facilitate the proper development of all these skills, we work with the students on them in every lesson and group class until they have been properly learned. We do not ask the students to practice these skills at home until they have already mastered them in lessons, thereby ensuring correct at-home practice when the students are ready to work without direct supervision.


Once the correct posture, cello and bow holds have been learned, our next goal is making a beautiful sound produced with tension-free playing. Again, this is a process and takes time to develop, but we find it is well worth the time and effort to spare families the agony of the stereotypical squeaky beginner sound!


While working on these physical skills, students are also learning how to play music together in a group by watching and listening to their teachers, how to behave in class and on stage, and how to take care of their instruments. Finally, we introduce some foundational rhythm and ear training concepts using clapping, singing, and some note-reading using music flashcards.

By the time students earn taking home their cellos, they have already learned several simple songs. They are now ready to perform on the First Year Student Showcase, held within the annual Emerson Variety Show each December. At their debut performance, students will play a few songs in a group with a teacher-leader. This performance is designed to be fun and low-stress.

In the spring of their first year, students are invited to participate in their first Community Concert. (Go to Gallery to see all Community Concert photos.) They will also perform their first solo in the annual Spring Solo Recitals, usually held in May. For the rest of their time in Music con Brio, students will perform in one Community Concert each semester, and one solo recital each year. Additional performance opportunities may also be offered.

As students advance, group classes will be divided into three sections: Group playing time (playing common repertoire, known as “review pieces”,) solo time, and theory/ear training. Once students are in sufficiently advanced, additional repertoire will be assigned for group classes and performances. As students develop their own outside musical interests, they may also choose to work on repertoire for orchestra auditions, Solo and Ensemble competitions, or other projects during lessons with their Music con Brio teacher.