While purists snipe and decry their very existence as folly, the fact remains that there are legions of solitary cellists out there. Perhaps you, gentle reader, are one yourself.

Some folks choose to live far from populations centers where music instructors and community groups abound. Some players experience tremendous anxiety even thinking about playing for or with others. Others have schedules that make it next to impossible to coordinate with conventional avenues of instruction and participating in ensembles, and of course, there is a pandemic raging as I write this, causing in-person music making and lessons complicated, if not completely impossible—for financial reasons as well as those motivated by health.

So I’m delaying my follow up to the A Modern Cellist’s Manual in favor of something designed for the cellist, who, for whatever reason, has decided to go it alone.

The treatise is simple: playing with others and for others is absolutely the very best way to improve on an instrument. This text is not a substitute for that, nor will it advance a cellist nearly as far as lessons and ensemble playing in the pre-COVID era would have. That said, there are an awful lot of lessons that can be fairly simply distilled down to pictures and words. Recommendations of other texts to read to supplement knowledge. Wonderfully generous professionals who have lots of thoughtful videos with non-controversial advice given throughout.

Plus, part of my aim is to encourage the advancing lone cellist to seek out even a short course of private instruction, which is easier than it has ever been before, thanks to the internet and tools like Skype and Zoom. Heck, even [the tragically named] JamKazam makes it possible to play in ensembles over a physical ethernet connection with barely-noticeable latency.

The goal is to give hope to more people. To make as many aspects of learning the cello as accessible, rigorous, cheerful, and encouraging as possible. There is no substitute for the conventional path, but that doesn’t mean those on the road less traveled need to go it entirely alone.