Dive into our comprehensive review of tonebase cello courses, and find the perfect course to elevate your playing skills.
There’s no doubt about it – online music education is undergoing a transformative evolution.
With the recent rise in the popularity of remote learning, the opportunities for aspiring musicians to learn, practice, and refine their skills from practically anywhere in the world have only grown. Still, some challenges persist, especially when trying to strike a balance between convenience, expert guidance, and maintaining the depth of musical education.
Tonebase, a comprehensive classical music lessons website, seems to have provided an adequate answer to this problem. It is a space where more than 10 thousand users grow their skills from their own homes – without sacrificing quality.
In this tonebase cello review, we’ll be taking a look at the platform, comparing its cello offer to its competitors, and listing some user reviews and testimonials.
Table of contents:
- Tonebase Overview
- Key Features of Tonebase Cello
- Dive into Tonebase Courses
- Meet the Tonebase Cello Teachers
- Evaluating the User Experience: Reviews and Testimonials
- Understanding Tonebase Pricing
- Comparing Tonebase with Competitors
- Exploring the Tonebase Cello Mobile App
- In Conclusion
Tonebase first launched in 2017, with the aim of improving the accessibility of classical music education. The idea of offering high-quality music lessons to a global audience immediately set the platform apart from the rest of the online music lesson market – with courses led by world-class musicians and educators from prestigious institutions such as the Curtis Institute of Music, Yale, Juilliard, San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and others. In this way, tonebase successfully emulates the approach Masterclass first established in 2015.
Today, the website offers courses on classical guitar, piano, violin, flute, and cello.
Want to find out more about the platform? Follow this link for our comprehensive review of tonebase.
What is Tonebase Cello?
Same as for the rest of the platform, tonebase for cello focuses on video instrument lessons. The courses on Tonebase Cello, so, cover a range of important topics for those who want to up their cello skills – starting with essential technical exercises and tips for interpretation.
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Key Features of Tonebase Cello
Once you first log into tonebase, you’re welcomed with a couple of general questions about your cello skills. This is necessary for the platform to understand you a bit better. If you like, after this “orientation” you can also take a much more detailed skills quiz. Here you’ll cover pretty much everything that goes into cello technique: from trills, broken chords, and arpeggios, to different bow styles.
After that, you’re assigned a ‘level’ – which helps tonebase take a more granular approach to its lesson recommendations. Then, once you finish setting up your profile, it’s off to the races – you have full freedom to explore the platform and decide which courses you’d like to take. The lengths of the lesson videos usually range between 5 and 30 minutes – but some also stretch to a full 90 minutes!
Course Structures and Resources
Most tonebase courses are separated into several smaller lessons, connected by one big umbrella topic. For example, Sarah Sant’Ambrogio’s course on “The Fundamentals of Cello Playing” discusses vibrato, slides, and playing without pain, amongst other things. However, the course structure depends on the instructor – and one of tonebase’s greatest strengths is its teachers’ diversity of approaches.
Ultimately, it’s up to the user to dictate their tempo and scope of learning. You might want to keep redoing one lesson over and over again until you feel like you truly understand the material. Maybe you’ll want to speed through a course that’s boring you, or skip over a subject you already know – it’s entirely your choice.
In addition to its lesson library, tonebase also has supporting instructional material. When it comes to cello, this includes lesson workbooks and sheet music for select pieces taught on the platform. Accompanying these resources is the tonebase cello blog. Here you’ll find articles on topics like the pros and cons of the electric cello, or the technical nitty-gritty of stringing and tuning. And for those missing that personal touch of a teacher addressing them in real-time, exclusive live web workshops are held weekly.
Dive into Tonebase Courses
Overview of Tonebase Cello Courses
Same as with other instruments on tonebase, the cello lessons are divided into two broad categories:
- Learn a Piece – lessons on thoughtful interpretation, discussing famous works like Bach’s Suites and “The Swan” by Saint-Saëns;
- Build Skills and Knowledge – lessons on “facility and fluency”, focusing on things like posture and left and right hand technique.
Tonebase’s cello lesson library aims to offer learning material for musicians of all skill levels. Still, while its “beginner” courses, like the one on the fundamentals of cello technique, are truly helpful, it’s important to keep in mind that learning an instrument from scratch is usually easier with a teacher by your actual – not virtual – side. Most tonebase’s “beginner” lessons are actually far from what someone with little experience could grasp. This, for example, includes discussions of music like the cello solos from Dvořák’s Piano Quintet No. 2, Op. 81, and Brahms’s Piano Trio No. 1 op. 8. Pretty complex stuff!
Other courses, more appropriately labeled as “intermediate” and “advanced”, focus on famously demanding large-scale works for solo cello. These, for example, include Concertos by Schumann (as presented by Pablo Ferrández), Saint-Saëns (Zlatomir Fung), and Elgar (Julian Schwarz), and so on.
When it comes to the stylistic variety of the lesson material, owing to the recent arrival of cello lessons to the platform, there is not much of it. While the tonebase violin library, for example, offers courses on experimental playing techniques and folk music, the cello library is still uniformly Classical. Save for a couple of lessons on Bach’s Suites, however, at the time of writing this review (August 2023) there are no courses dedicated to the interpretation and technique of Baroque music. The library is dominated by Romantic composers, with Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven coming in as close second. There is also due attention paid to the music of the 20th century, with discussions of pieces by Debussy, Strauss, and Barber.
With all this in mind, it’s safe to say that tonebase’s cello library is currently best suited for more experienced players. Still, the platform is expanding each day. And if the state of other lesson libraries on tonebase is anything to go by, then there’s no doubt cello fans will have a lot more to do on the platform – very soon.
Meet the Tonebase Cello Teachers
Tonebase’s premium teachers are truly the best asset to the platform’s credibility.
In one place, tonebase gathered an impressive number of great musicians – performing artists, recording artists, and those who have mainly made their careers in teaching.
Qualifications and Teaching Styles
The level of expertise of its teachers is tonebase’s prime differentiator. There’s hardly a better place to start if your priority is expert guidance.
The platform counts some big names among its cello teachers: world-renowned Mischa Maisky, Laurence Lesser of the New England Conservatory, Peabody Institute’s Amit Peled, Sara Sant’Ambrogio of the Eroica Trio, prolific soloist and Director of the Dresden Music Festival Jan Vogler, and electric superstar Tina Guo, to name just a few.
Since interactivity is limited, the teaching styles they employ are, however, uniform. Presenters explain and demonstrate different aspects of playing the cello or interpreting a particular piece. Often they’ll repeat a move or a phrase for clarity, and ask questions to keep your attention. Most of the videos are accompanied by a music score on the screen, allowing you to easily follow what they’re doing and discussing.
Evaluating the User Experience
As their userbase continues to grow, tonebase has been accumulating some very positive reviews – most of which you can read right on their website. Below, we highlight several tonebase user experiences shared elsewhere.
Users’ Experience with Tonebase Cello
“I was really surprised by the quality of the material. The level is intermediate to advanced with some material maybe also interesting to professionals (presence on stage, mindset, stress relief). I like the technical details and explanations that offer me a very different perspective on my instrument and practicing. Additionally, some new exercises for shifting, intonation etc I found quite useful”, – g4hi, Reddit
“Tonebase channel has been an amazing recent discovery. The amount of musical insight available here is astounding”, – sehetw, Twitter
“I’ve really enjoyed Amit Peled’s content on there – it’s worth a month of subbing just for him! That really surprised me how much I like his videos given that I didn’t care for his emoji book”, – Amateur_Cellist, Reddit
Understanding Tonebase Pricing
Cost of Tonebase Cello Subscription
Tonebase’s pricing comes in 3 subscription packages: Monthly ($49.95 monthly), Yearly (billed annually at $299), and Lifetime (one-time payment of $695). There is a 14-day free trial available.
Subscriptions can be canceled at any time, with the platform offering a full refund within 90 days of your purchase.
Is it Worth the Price?
Many tonebase users recommend trying out the platform for at least 2-3 months. Seeing as the library is continuously being updated, as new instructors join the platform and more content is developed and uploaded, it makes sense that it takes a little bit of time to assess the full range of tonebase’s value.
There are no differences in the material itself depending on your subscription package – the only thing that changes is how long you have access to it. If you want to try it out for yourself and aren’t sure how much you can, or want to commit, we recommend starting with the monthly subscription package. The yearly plan, on the other hand, would make for a perfect birthday or holiday gift to your cellist of choice.
Regardless of package type, a tonebase cello subscription will currently give you access to 50+ courses, along with recordings of past webinars, sheet music, lesson workbooks, as well as upcoming livestreams by tonebase teachers. Approaching the intimacy of a masterclass but with a variety of topics and approaches only an online platform can offer, tonebase is a great option for those who want to get insights from the greats and level up their skills, all from the comfort of their own home.
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Comparing Tonebase with Competitors
When comparing tonebase to other cello learning platforms on the market, it’s easy to see why it’s currently head and shoulders above the rest. The variety of teachers, a quickly-expanding library, the production quality, and great UI, all make tonebase stand out.
Tonebase vs Other Cello Learning Platforms
Platforms like Cello Online, Strings Lessons, Cello Academy, and Artist Works, all have their advantages. Primarily – lots of free content.
But today’s learners are more and more reporting difficulties in using these platforms. The main reasons: clunky UI, uneven production quality, lack of extra features, and more. Many of these websites have been around for a long time, without ever refreshing their design and offer. It is a problem tonebase simply does not have – the interface feels fresh, direct, and easy to understand.
Another advantage tonebase has over its competitors is the variety of its offer. Many other cello learning platforms are the brainchildren of just one artist and educator – Hans Zentgraf and Olga Redkina, for example. While their websites may offer hundreds, even thousands of educational videos, they’ll still all be coming from the same person with a unique perspective and technique. For those interested in a variety of viewpoints and playing styles, tonebase should absolutely be the go-to place.
Lastly, there’s tonebase’s previously mentioned vital differentiator. These are cello courses designed and led by some of the best musicians and educators in the game. And that shows.
Exploring the Tonebase Cello Mobile App
Features and Usability of the Mobile App
The tonebase mobile app, recently launched both for iOS and Android, has all the features offered on the website, with the same sleek, minimalist design that keeps the user focused on the platform’s content.
The home screen instantly directs the user to the main purpose of the platform – the courses, live events, and additional resources. Other icons on the home screen enable you to go back, check in on your progress and ongoing courses, and search for more.
Owing to its simplicity and ease of use, the tonebase mobile app might even be the better way to use the platform, since the touchscreen makes it easier to browse and press play and pause buttons when holding your bow.
The roster of experienced cello teachers, including renowned artists and educators, guarantees expert guidance and makes tonebase truly stand out in the online music education landscape. Though its lesson library is currently more suited for intermediate and advanced players, the platform is still expanding, promising more content and variety in the future.
Comparing tonebase to other cello learning platforms, the platform clearly sets itself apart with its modern, user-friendly interface, high-quality production, and offer of diverse perspectives from world-class teachers.
Tonebase has proven itself as a reliable and effective resource for cello enthusiasts seeking top-notch education and guidance. As it continues to expand its offerings and improve user experience, tonebase remains a go-to destination for aspiring and seasoned cellists alike.
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