The main types of cello jobs include performance, repair and restoration, manufacturing, teaching, sales, and demonstration. Each of these cello jobs requires a slightly different set of skills and experience, with very different setups and pay rates. Regardless of which position a person chooses, however, they must be able to play the cello competently. Many people overlap jobs, such as teaching and performing.
Cello players generally have to have a formal degree in music performance, simply because this type of education allows the player to learn music in a more comprehensive and in-depth way. A degree also verifies a specific level of proficiency in music and performance ability, which is considered by employers. However, some people find success through private study, so this rule is not absolute.
If a person gets into the cello, they have many choices about where and what to play. Some of the most common jobs are chamber music concerts, such as performing as part of a string quartet such as a wedding. Other cellists may get jobs performing in jazz ensembles, such as clubs. Individuals like Ron Carter have gained fame for jazz cello work, but in general, people prefer the double bass over the cello for jazz playing. A cellist may also play with an orchestra or appear as a soloist, but these positions are extremely competitive, with only the best cellists offering contracts.
Another option for cello work is cello repair. People who have this career can do everything from string replacement to bridge replacement to restoration. These workers often work in music stores, but some are experts employed by private manufacturers who have provided training. Cello repairmen must have a solid understanding of not only cello construction, but also physics and how settings and materials affect the overall tone, responsiveness, and projection of the instruments they arrange. They usually work on fairly inexpensive instruments in the student range,
Related to cello repair work is restoration. Workers who focus on this area of repair are concerned with getting older cello models back into working order. Often the instruments they work on are of enormous value due to their rarity and age, with some cellos being hundreds of years old. Cello restorers must be familiar with the entire history of cello and cello music, because their job is to restore cellos in such a way that the instruments can produce an authentic sound while being played in the manner originally intended.
Cello jobs also include manufacturing. Some of these cello workers concentrate on creating new cello designs that the maker can produce. Others focus on moving design into production, overseeing the mechanical aspects of mass production. Although rarer, a handful of people in cello making create cellos by hand, customizing each instrument over a period of several weeks to specifications provided by the customer. This type of work requires considerable skill and is very labor intensive.
Many people with an interest or talent in the cello become teachers. Cello instructors fall into two broad categories: private and public. Private instructors teach one-on-one lessons, often away from home, with up to 30 students per week. Public instructors work in schools, and some teachers are the general director of music who teaches not only the cello, but also all instruments, ensembles, bands, and choirs. Those at the college or university level generally have to have a doctorate in music education and operate more as private instructors, often performing without teaching.
Some people looking for cello jobs get lucky with sales or demonstration. Sales workers are tasked with promoting different cello models, either in person or through other means, such as digital marketing through the company’s website. They often work in music stores, showing customers different models and explaining the pros and cons of each. Protesters are also concerned with generating interest in the cello similar to sales workers, but their goal is to create more players, not necessarily to make a profit from sales. They typically target elementary-age children, play the cello to show its sound, size, and technique, and provide background historical and performance information.