As a beginner, you spend so much time finding the right cello and the right accessories like a cello tuner. After all the hours you put into reading reviews and evaluating products, you might find it overwhelming when looking at the sheer volume of cello sheet music available online.
So how do you find the best music? This best cello sheet music guide will explain.
This best cello sheet music guide will explain what music is best for different skill levels and what is best for solo vs. accompaniment situations.
Bottom Line Upfront
I recommend the 101 Hit Songs: for cello. I love this collection, and once you familiarize yourself with this collection, you can invest in the other “101 songs” books.
These songs are intended for beginners and intermediate players, so there’s something for everyone, and you have so many songs from which to choose that you can probably work your way through this book for at least one year before you need to move on to new sheet music.
For this best cello sheet music guide, I selected music that ranges from beginner to intermediate difficulty levels. I included books because of the better value they afford. I also had a mix of solo and accompaniment to accommodate different situations.
Best Cello Sheet Music Guide: Books or Individual Songs
If you are looking to invest in sheet music, you can find music in one of two forms.
The first is individual sheet music. This means you purchase one song at a time. There are plenty of online sites that allow you to buy individual copies or multiple copies of single songs at a time.
This is typically more expensive because single copies cost around $5 each. The benefit here is that single copies can usually be printed directly from your computer, so you don’t have to pay for shipping or wait for your sheet music to arrive.
The second form is in a book or collection. Books or collections are a much better deal, financially speaking. With a book, you typically get anywhere between 5 and 100 songs.
The songs are divided by category, so you might find a book specializing in pieces from a particular movie or Broadway show, classical songs from one composer or type of composer, or hit songs for a specific genre like Celtic music or country music.
If you are considering a collection, there are two most popular, reputable publishers behind most modern sheet music collections:
- The Hal Leonard company publishes many music collections for cello and other instruments, with a wide range of modern and classical music.
- Schirmer’s Library of Musical Classics provides collections for educational purposes, though their collections are primarily classical songs.
This best cello sheet music guide has a lot of recommendations from these two publishers. These are just the publishers, the corporation that produces different compilations.
The music will typically come from Individual authors and composers. However, you don’t necessarily have to choose sheet music individually or sheet music books from either of these two companies. They just happened to be two of the most popular, so you will see their names a lot when you search for the best cello sheet music.
Solo vs Accompaniment
Once you pull up an individual song or a book that you are considering, you will have to verify the level and whether it’s a solo piece or an accompaniment.
The level will explain how complicated the piece is. If you are a beginner, you want to stick with something designed specifically for beginners.
Classical music for beginners, for example, might have the simple Melody without a lot of complicated harmonies. If you are an intermediate cellist, having something a bit more challenging will help you improve your skills.
The next thing you want to verify is whether the sheet music is for a solo or more than one instrument. If you are looking at the actual sheet music, this is pretty easy to verify: it will have one line of music just for the cello. If you are looking at a book or a collection, you must check the description.
One is not better than the other, but they are designed for different situations. If you are a music student, you might be encouraged to invest in sheet music that accompanies a piano or a second cello so that your teacher can play with you.
If you are practicing at home, you don’t want something that doesn’t sound complete on its own, in which case solo sheet music is best.
Each of these selections in this best cello sheet music guide was evaluated based on their skill level, choosing pieces meant for beginners and intermediate players. The music was also selected based on the value, how many songs you get for the price you pay.
Best Cello Sheet Music Guide: My Top Suggestions
Now that you know more about what makes the best cello sheet music for different situations, let’s look at some of the top suggestions.
Cello Music by French Composers
Schirmer’s Library of Musical Classics is well known for having classical compilations for different solo situations, including instruments and voice. This Cello Music by French Composers offers a fantastic collection of songs. You get beautiful pieces from Debussy and Saint-Saens, Elegy, and Apres un Reve.
It’s an excellent investment to build out your cello repertoire, especially if you are looking for something you can regularly practice and use as a gauge for your improved skill with a teacher.
I have used all of my Schirmer’s Library of Musical Classics music books as part of music lessons with a teacher. Once I master each song, I can move through the progressive books and pull something out of my back pocket for performances at any point moving forward.
I still pull some of my favorite songs from my Schirmer’s Library of Musical Classics music books when people want classical music.
- It has clear printing with easy to read music
- Well worth the financial investment because of how many songs you get.
- There is the piano accompaniment for some of the songs.
- This is an intermediate level collection, not best for beginners
The Greatest Showman
Sheet music doesn’t just have to be outdated classical compositions that you would use for a school evaluation. You can find music in this best cello sheet music guide that is included for its fun, Pop Culture ties.
I loved the movie The Greatest Showman. Hal Leonard has produced multiple instrumental play along books. I have this cello Greatest Showman play-along book and the piano-along book.
Note: If you also invest in the piano version, please know that you cannot play the two simultaneously; they are written in different keys. So, if you try to play the song Tightrope on the piano using the piano sheet music and on the cello using the cello sheet music simultaneously, they won’t be in the same key, and it won’t sound good.
If you happen to have enough skill yourself or your pianist has enough talent to change keys in their mind as they play, then it might not be a problem, but I only know two people who can do that (I am not one of them). Yes, I learned this the hard way.
It includes nine songs with instrumentals only. There are play-along tracks that you can stream or download to know what it’s supposed to sound like while you are playing. You can also enjoy the audio demonstrations when you first learn the music.
- Nine songs that all come from the movie
- Easy to read
- Has play-along tracks and audio files you can use to learn
- If you don’t like the movie, you probably won’t enjoy playing the music
101 Hit Songs: for Cello
If you want pop music or top popular hits, try the book 101 Hit Songs: for cello. This is a solo book, so it’s just for the cello. This is an excellent resource if you want fun music that you can play around with or warm up with.
It has straightforward musical arrangements and scores perfect for beginners. It’s a significant investment because you get over 100 songs. These songs include Smells Like Teen Spirit, Firework, All About That Bass, I Gotta Feeling, and more.
One of the biggest problems with books like this is that we expect the music to sound like what we hear on a CD or the radio. However, the songs have usually been modified either to accommodate a beginner versus an intermediate musician or to accommodate an instrument for which it was not originally written.
If the songs were initially written for a piano, converting them to a cello might have similar timing, brakes, and styles, but it might be in a different key or sound slightly off.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider music books like this. It just means you should modify your expectations; Customers who expect the music to sound the same as it does on the radio tend to be more disappointed and don’t drive a lot of value out of the songs they learn to play.
- Great value with 101 songs for less than $20
- The arrangements of many songs don’t sound the same because they are modified for cello and beginners
101 Classical Themes for Cello
This is from the same publisher as the 101 Hit Songs: For Cello book, Hal Leonard. It is very similar in that it has over 100 songs, all of which are classical in their theme and include many modified versions of famous classical songs intended for beginners.
101 Classical Themes for Cello is a solo book; This may or may not be what you prefer. Your music teacher can’t necessarily accompany you, but it is an excellent catalog for practice and performance at home.
The arrangements are all straightforward and appropriately designed for a beginner. The print is large and easy to read, and the songs are a lot of fun.
- Great for beginners
- Popular classical songs modified for cello
- Great value for money
- The songs don’t always sound like the original compositions because they have been modified for beginner cello.
101 Most Beautiful Songs for Cello
101 Most Beautiful Songs for Cello is the third in this series of “101 most” for cello. As the term beautiful is arbitrary, this Hal Leonard publication contains a mixture of songs, primarily love songs. You have songs like River Flows in You, Every Breath You Take, What a Wonderful World, Love Me Tender, and city of stars.
It’s designed for beginners and helps you learn music in the first position. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this book for a younger member of your family learning to play the cello because they probably don’t know most of the song, but it’s a great purchase as an adult.
- Lots of classic love songs
- Easy to learn as a beginner
- Fun songs that are all in the first position
- Songs are all a bit dated so that children wouldn’t recognize them
20 Classical Cello Solos
20 Classical Cello Solos is a book of 20 cello solo pieces. It has exquisite solos from popular names like Tchaikovsky, Chopin, Vivaldi, Beethoven, and Bach. I like this one if you are looking for a book of easy-to-learn classical songs you can use for performances or lessons.
It doesn’t have a company mean, so you can’t play alongside your teacher or instructor, but it’s easy to gauge your progress by working through all 20 songs until you have learned the entire book. And, of course, getting 20 pieces for just over $10 is a great value.
- Good value
- Classical songs modified for beginners
- Only available in solo pieces
Answer: Learning to read music will allow you to open sheet music for any genre, any style, and read it just like a book. Once you know what the markings mean and how they correspond to your bow and hand placement on the cello, you can apply this skill to the cello and any other instrument you choose to learn later.
Reading cello sheet music will help you try out a new genre later or join a group of performers like a string quartet.
Answer: In most cases, yes. You typically have to pay if you purchase cello sheet music, but that cost is nominal. After the initial cost, you own a copy of sheet music, and you can play it or use it however you see fit.
There are plenty of websites that offer free sheet music, and if you are taking lessons, your teacher might very well be able to copy certain reproducible sheet music for you.
Answer: This depends entirely on whether you purchase individual songs or a book. A sheet music book will always be a better deal if you are looking for different pieces you can play. If you only want one song in particular, for a wedding or a birthday, then it makes sense to invest in a single piece of sheet music.
Most sheet music sold individually can be ordered and shipped to your house or printed directly at home. This typically costs between $0.99 and $5 per copy. If you order a book, you can expect to spend between $10 and $20 and usually get between 10 and 100 songs for that price.
I recommend 101 Hit Songs: for cello. If you don’t like popular songs, this same series is excellent for love songs, Broadway songs, classical songs, and other genres. I like this book, however, because it has so many songs that you can play something new every day. It’s excellent value for the price you pay, and there is a lot of variety.
However, all of the sheet music included in this best cello sheet music guide is well worth the investment if it better suits your needs. If you only learn one song per week, this book will keep you busy for two years.
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