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2008 - 2012 Reviews

Cello teacher for 11yo beginner

Oct 2012

Cello teacher for 11 yo beginner. Would prefer a teacher that's in Oakland (we're near Kaiser). Good keeping a beginner (with experience with other instruments) engaged and challenged (something of a slacker on his own). Not prohibitively expensive, preferred! thanks for leads... ann

I highly recommend Becky Rogot of the Holy Names Prep Music Dept 436-1224. We so enjoy and appreciate her enthusiasm and love of teaching. Although 11 is a little old in her opinion for starting cello, I would really try to get her. She is just wonderful and I think particularly good at motivating middle school-aged kids. So lucky to have a great teacher

Cello Teacher for 16 year old

July 2011

Hi - I'm looking for a cello teacher for my 16-year old who has been taking lessons for 8 years. His teacher is now out of the area, and I will ask at Crowden, but I'd appreciate the BPN input for a serious, classical cello teacher. I understand it is hard to leave a cello teacher one has had for a long time, so I'm open to your suggestions on how to make the transition. Thank you! D

Sergei Raibtchenko is our great cello teacher. He teaches in Berkeley on Ashby, and is on faculty at the San Domenico Virtuoso Program in San Anselmo.650-996-1917. He is kind, humorous, and very wise. We recommend him most highly. Jeanette
Bob Ng is a very good cello teacher in Central/North Berkeley with reasonable rates. My son has taken lessons with him for over a year. He takes students of all levels, kids and adults, and is very patient and approachable. We highly recommend him. Bob can be reached by email: Cello Mama
My 14 year old son has taken lessons since he was 4 from John Gardner. John is excellent with children, but he teaches teens and adults as well. 510/234-5966. In addition to Crowden, you might want to contact Holy Names University's Preparatory Music Department. The current director, Katherine Baird, is another wonderful cello player and instructor. Anon
Julie Feldman is a really talented professional cellist and she's been teaching the instrument for (??) 25 years or more. She's in Berkeley, (510)525-3144. I work with her and her students often (I have a repair/restoration business), and I really enjoy Julie's fun and friendly style as well as her serious dedication to music and her students' studies. I don't know if she's taking new students, but I'd highly recommend her. rachael
I would really recommend Ting Chin. She is an awesome classical cello teacher. She is the cello teacher at the Bentley School and has taught all over the Bay Area. My daughter and I really like her teaching style. I am a musician and music teacher myself and highly recommend her. Her number is 510-414-9038. Cheers, Adrienne

Cello Teacher for 11 year old

Nov 2009

After 'dating' several cello teachers in the Bay Area for my 11 y.o., we found Robert Howard in San Francisco. And he is a TREASURE. My husband and I are both professional musicians, and we feel that Robert is already one of the finest teachers each of us has worked with. His fun, inspiring and creative teaching, along with his own world-class musicianship, has opened the door to not only cello, but the world of classical music, positive self-discipline, and creativity for our daughter. I cannot recommend him highly enough. Sarah

Two wonderful east bay cello teachers are Jess Ivry and Kathy Allen. I am a violin teacher, have been for many years, and know that these two teachers are great players and very qualified teachers, as well as nice people. I have a phone number for Jess. 510-593-3395 I believe you can get Kathy Allen's number by calling the Crowden School. Good luck. Irene
The best cello teacher around is Katherine Baird. She is kind but firm, and really knows her stuff. She has been our teacher for years, and we have taken music lessons from many, many string teachers. She's also a fine cellist who performs regularly. Classical Mom
I highly recommend Cheryl Fippen, an experienced cello teacher with a studio in central Berkeley. (510-508-1792) I recently began cello lessons and she is so gifted as a teacher, gearing the lessons to how I learn and think with on-going efforts to ease the steep learning curve of playing a string instrument for the first time as an adult. Cheryl teaches all ages and levels, and also offers Audition Coaching for youngsters seeking admission to youth orchestras. She is an accomplished and active orchestral cellist in addition to her private teaching. Alice

Cello Teacher for 9 year old

Jan 2010

I am looking for inexpensive cello lessons for my 9 year old daughter somewhere near North Oakland. She is totally new to music, and I want a teacher who is enthusiastic, really great with children, and who will focus on making music a beautiful and fun experience. A teacher who is overly focused on theory and precise musicianship right from the beginning, is probably not going to be a good match for my daughter. Anyone have any recommendations? Thank you for your help! anonymous

Try Amy Brodo. She is an excellent musician located in Oakland, and has been teaching cello and piano to children for many years. Her contact info is or 510-482-3470. gulia

Cello Teacher for Six-Year-Old Violinist?

Nov 2009

One of my six-year-old twins is crazy about the cello. She and her twin sister have both been playing Suzuki violin for over a year, and are doing fairly well (just at the end of Book 1), but she is just in love with the cello. I'd like to honor this by giving her the cello lessons she's been begging for. Though since she wants to continue with the violin as well, I'm also a little concerned about burn-out. Does anybody have any suggestions for cello teachers in Berkeley (or environs?). One Suzuki program is enough, I think, so I'm thinking a non-Suzuki teacher, maybe one who also is a violinist also, so they can relate? Or other wisdom about kids studying 2 instruments? Thanks, Juliet

Elaine Kreston is great - our son studied with her, and though he decided to move on to other instruments he still speaks highly of her. I don't have a current phone for her, but her website is When we were with her, there were students in her studio who studied more than one instrument. Good luck! love the cello, too
For referral to local cello teachers, you might give the Crowden Music Center a call (510-559-4921). They can suggest a private teacher to match your daughter's needs; perhaps a cellist experienced with violin to help build on your daughter's violin experience and make the transition easier. They also offer group and ensemble classes and are a great resource for music teachers and lessons. Good luck with cello!

2004 - 2007 Reviews

Cello teacher for 7 year old

Nov 2007

I'm looking for a cello teacher for my (beginning) 7 year old. I'm wondering if there are any great ones that come to your house for the lesson (North Oakland) or are located around North Oakland? And anyone have advice on Suzuki or not to Suzuki? Thanks!

I don't have a specific teacher recommendation but do about the Suzuki method, as I grew up playing cello and piano starting around age 5 or 6 and did so through college. I would NOT do the Suzuki method. A 7-year-old is old enough to grasp the concept of reading music, and every single one of my friends in the symphony and orchestra and conservatory that I played with or in who did do Suzuki had a VERY steep learning curve when it came time to actually read music (they were helpless; the equivalent of needing remedial reading, almost, and I don't say that to be un-PC). Maybe Suzuki is done differently now, but I doubt it. I would get a teacher that can help your child learn to read music, because that's what the goal actually should be. Plus, it would be transferrable to other instruments, whereas a Suzuki-trained student has only memorized by rote how to play one specific instrument, and doesn't even really know why they're doing what they're doing. Just my opinion. I'm su! re there are a lot of pro-Suzuki-ers out there though. --First chair cellist and could read music
We like Monica Scott, 595-8448. She's very good at finding a variety of ways to teach, and is able to make it fun. My child started studying with Monica in 4th grade, and I have also seen her work with some very young students. Carol
There are two teachers, both Mills College graduates, who teach cello in our school as well as home visits. The first is Theresa Wong at tree_wong[at] and the other is Agnes Szelnag at agnesszelag[at] They are both in high demand and have been featured in a current Oakland Magazine for their incredible works through Mills. Krista
Monica Scott teaches cello at our school to both preschoolers and lower school students. She captivates the students and is fantastic in concert. She performs as a duo with a pianist. I would recommend her highly. She is available to teach at her home in North Oakland, and on site. tina
Three of my kids play strings. Both my sons play cello. For an advanced student I would recommend Eugene Sor who teaches out of Crowden Music School and at his own studio. For a beginner, especially a boy, I would highly recommend Cathy Allen or Julie Feldman. They are excellent with children, even hyperactive ones. Two of my kids did start with Suzuki at Holy Names which I do not recommend. Most all string teachers do use the Suzuki books for beginning pieces but not necessarily the aural method. Cathy Allen can be reached at the Crowden Music Center in Berkeley. It is worth the drive if you do not live nearby. We initially rented from Ifshin. Cello sounds good even if the kid can not play!
I highly recommend Michael Graham (510-368-8263,, a Yale-educated cellist in Oakland. Mike plays in numerous professional ensembles in the Bay Area and teaches privately (all levels). I play string quartets with him regularly so I know first-hand what an incredible musician *and* teacher he is. Mike is extremely smart, communicative, fun-loving, and very importantly, knows how to offer constructive criticism. If my son shows interests in cello when he gets older, I will send him to Mike (and I am very picky when it comes to music teachers). Try a few lessons with him and see how your daughter likes it! CP

2003 & Earlier

Cello lessons for 10-year-old boy

Sept 2003

Can anyone recommend a cello teacher for a ten year old boy? He has learned some from his 4th grade group instruction at Emerson School but I'd like to supplement the 5th grade group class. He seems to have a feel for the instrument. I think he'd work best with a relaxed teacher who is happy to take on a beginning student. We live in Berkeley's Elmwood neighborhood, not far from Rockridge. Geographic convenience is a plus for me! Thanks. Tisha

Rob Shafer is a very patient and kind teacher for young cellists. He is on Virginia St. in Berkeley. His number is in the phone book as spelled and under ''Key Route Music'', Both he and his wife teach cello and also rent instruments. parent of former student
I am a violin teacher in the area (and my daughter goes to Emerson!) and I would highly recommend Julie Feldman to teach a beginning cello student. She is a lovely person and has taught for a very long time. She even has cellos to rent if your son needs one. You can call Berkeley information. Good luck. Irene Sazer
Elaine Kreston is a fabulous cellist and cello instructor. She came highly recommended to us, and we couldn't be happier. Elaine is patient, clear, and inspiring. She provides opportunity and support for public performance, and frequently announces concerts (hers or others) appropirate for younger audiences. I believe she is taking new students. You can reach her at elaine AT broque

Cello teacher for 13-year-old

Aug 2002

Can anyone recommend a good youth cello teacher somewhere between North Berkeley and Richmond/El Sobrante? Even better, one who will come to your home! My son is 13, has played for two years and is in need of a local teacher. Thanks. Susan

The thing about cello teachers who are in the wrong location for you is that they know other teachers who may be in the right location for you. Thank goodness we live in a cello rich environment,here. I would suggest you call any one of the teachers recommended in the archived listings, and ask that person for advice. But the most important ingredient is the rapport established between the teacher and student. I've travelled miles and miles for the right music teacher. It is worth it. If you're still stuck, write to me. I'm a cellist and know cellists and teachers who all have connections with those who have connections who have more connections in the area. I'm sure you can find someone. Good luck. Tobie
Rob Shafer in Berkeley has tutored my two daughters for the last five years. I highly recommend him. He's very flexible, his prices are reasonable, and he is very dedicated. His phone number is 548-6658. lkline
Before you look for a cello teacher you need to ask yourself a number of questions about you and your child's goal with the instrument. How serious is your child, what kind of music interests him/her, how much is he/she willing to devote to learning the instrument, what sort of person does he/she work with best, and so on.

You can get a list of local cello teachers from Ifshin's. Crowden can also give you some names. Call them and speak with them about their philosophy and yours. Then have a sample lesson with the teachers who fit your requirements. You and your child together can then make a decision.

As for some Albany / El Cerrito teachers, here are a few:

Elaine Kreston 558-6889
Eugene Sor 528-8994
Cathy Allen 528-5195

More reviews

Nov 1999

The Crowden School and Center for Music in the Community (CCMC) is located at Rose and Sacramento in Berkeley and has an excellent reference list of bay area violin, viola, cello and bass teachers; CCMC offers after school classes for children and young adults, from solo instrument training to advanced chamber music. CCMC can be reached by calling 559-6910. Ask for Elisabeth.

I recommend Gianna Abondolo as a fine cello teacher. She was recently hired by the Crowden School to teach their after school cello classes. She is a wonderful cellist and has a supportive, enthusiastic approach to teaching.
I highly recommend Matthew Owens, north Berkeley. He seems to have a gift for keeping teenage girls connected to cello playing. My daughter studied with him for about three years, made very good progress and basically hung in there until she felt she had accomplished what she wanted with the instrument.
Editor note: phone number corrected to (510) 215-7294 Sept 2004
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