Do you have a child who just started learning the cello? Do you teach the beginning orchestra at a school? Do you teach privately and get a lot of young cellists just starting out? One of the very best ways to get a young student excited about learning a musical instrument is to get them playing songs that they like, know, or can at least recognize. Even adults enjoy playing along to songs that they know.
It is imperative that the student owns a book of songs that they enjoy playing in addition to the prescribed method book from the child’s school or private teacher because that helps them get (and stay) excited about music! Odds are if they chose to start playing an instrument, they want to play some of these songs. In fact, our main editor got his start playing viola because the teacher played the Star Wars theme on the viola.
A growing number of beginner books for cellists include simple, recognizable songs that teach the child how to play. These books are especially great and tend to be the ones that the school or private teacher will recommend to their beginning students. Beyond that, there are a ton of books of sheet music available at music stores with the music of Harry Potter, Disney, Lord of the Rings, and more. While many of these books are on the easier side, some of them will require the player to have a year or two of playing under their belt before being able to play them.
If you are a parent of a child just starting out on the cello, you already know what music they like! You can ask their music teacher if they have any suggestions for books and what level of book is appropriate.
If you are a private teacher or schoolteacher, take an interest in your students and talk to their parents. Figure out what music they like to listen to and see if you can recommend one of these books for them to purchase. Make sure you take into account how advanced they are so that you aren’t getting them a book that will be too hard – nothing is more frustrating than seeing a song that you really like and not being able to play it!
What follows is a list of play along music books from various genres. It is by no means an exhaustive list, there are plenty more. If there is a certain movie or genre not included on this list, give it a search on Amazon – it’s very likely that something is out there!
Star Wars – A Musical Journey
Music from Episodes I-VI
This book is a must-have for Star Wars fans! While it doesn’t contain music from the Disney era movies, this book holds some of the most well-known songs from the first 6 films, all written by John Williams and arranged for the level 2-3 player.
Each book comes with a free CD that has a version of each song played on cello, and a second track with just the accompaniment so you can play along! There is also a book available with the accompaniment written for piano so that you can play with a pianist – but make sure you know which book to get. There are different accompaniment books for string and wind players. Included are such hits as “The Imperial March” (the iconic Darth Vader’s Theme), the royal “The Throne Room,” Anakin and Padme’s love theme “Across The Stars,” and, of course, the Star Wars main theme!
Star Wars: The Force Awakens Instrumental Play Along
For Star Wars fans that were upset that the first book did not include music from the most recent Star Wars films, never fear! This book features music from The Force Awakens. For players level 2-3 and above, this books also contains access to an online audio demonstration of every track included, like many of the other books on this list, and features such hits as “Rey’s Theme,” “March of the Resistance,” “The Jedi Steps and Finale,” and much more!
Harry Potter – Instrumental Solos
J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series took the world by storm, and when the movies came out, John Williams wrote the perfect music to capture the magical world and make you feel like you’re right there at Hogwarts! Many people don’t know that John Williams actually is not the only composer to write music for the Harry Potter movies – though he was the first. This book features music from all 4 composers that wrote for the films. John Williams wrote the music for movies 1-3, Patrick Doyle wrote the music for 4, Nicholas Hooper wrote the soundtrack to 5 and 6, and Alexandre Desplat wrote the music to 7 parts 1 and 2.
A CD is included that has both demo and accompaniment tracks to play along with. Another level 2-3 book that may not be perfect for a first-year player, but the reviews rave that this book really gets kids excited about practicing and playing their instrument!
Included are John William’s signature and magical Harry Potter tunes, “Hedwig’s Theme,” “Fawkes the Phoenix,” “Leaving Hogwarts,” Patrick Doyle’s beautiful “Hogwarts Hymn,” Nicholas Hooper’s electrifying “Wizard Wheezes,” and Alexandre Desplat’s haunting “Lily’s Theme,” and more!
The Big Book of Disney Songs
Just as the Star Wars book is ideal for fans of that franchise, The Big Book of Disney Songs is perfect for people who love the music of Disney. This book has received several reviews stating that it is not for the first-year beginner player since it has some slightly more advanced key signatures and tricky rhythms (often found in popular music). It’s possible that the talented and advanced player might be able to play a few songs in their first year, but it’s probably best to hold off a year to make sure that your student doesn’t get frustrated, unable to play their favorite Disney songs.
One other thing to note is that this book includes only pre-2012 Disney movies – there won’t be music from Frozen, Moana, or other more recent movies inside this particular book.
Included in this are such hits as “Under the Sea” (The Little Mermaid), “Trashin’ the Camp” (Tarzan), “Can You Feel The Love Tonight” (The Lion King), “Beauty and the Beast” (Beauty and the Beast), “Scales and Arpeggios” (The Aristocats), “The Bare Necessities” (The Jungle Book), and so much more!
Songs from Frozen, Tangled, and Enchanted
For those Disney fans looking for music from some of the newer films, this might be the book for you! This book includes music from Frozen, Tangled, and Enchanted. Rather than a CD, this book includes digital audio demonstrations of each song in the book that can be found online. Some of the hits included are: “Do You Want to Build A Snowman,,” “Happy Working Song,,” “When Will My Life Begin,,” and, of course, “Let it Go..”
Moana Instrumental Solos
This book includes some of the top tracks from one of Disney’s latest hits, Moana! Like the other recent book of Disney music, it comes with online access to audio demonstrations of every song included. “How Far I’ll Go,,” “You’re Welcome,” and “Shiny” are all found in this book, along with several others. A sure way to get a child who loves Moana excited about practicing the cello!
Easy Pop Melodies
This book is a perfect book of tunes for beginners! It has a bit of music that everyone can enjoy – from famous pop tunes (new and old) to hits from some of the top musicals. Included with each tune are lyrics and chord symbols. A sampling of what you will find in this book includes: Coldplay’s “Viva la Vida,” Elvis Presley’s “Can’t Help Falling In Love,” “My Favorite Things” and the title track from The Sound of Music, The Beatles’ “In My Life,” and many, many more! There are 50 tunes in total, follow the link and click the preview to see a list of all the music that is included in this book.
The Big Book of Christmas Songs
Sure, it can only be played during one season of the year, but who doesn’t love Christmas music? The difficulty of the songs included ranges from beginner to intermediate and advanced, so it’s a great book for anyone – they can pull it out each year and see how much more they can play out of it! According to a review, buying the paper copy (rather than the Kindle version) is recommended because many of the songs span multiple pages, making Kindle use more difficult (but the user that brought that up still really loved the book). The Big Book of Christmas Songs includes Christmas songs new and old, such as: “All I Want For Christmas Is You,” “Blue Christmas,” “Away In A Manger,” “Frosty The Snowman,” “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer,” “Feliz Navidad,” “Go Tell It On The Mountain,” and much more!
The Lord of the Rings Instrumental Solos
This book includes music from all three Lord of the Rings movies and a demo CD with performance tracks and play along tracks. Additionally there is a piano accompaniment book! The music is arranged for the level 2-3 player, though a number of reviews claim that a more beginner player – even people in their first year could play some songs out of this book. This book includes 12 songs, including the famous theme “Concerning Hobbits,” “The Black Rider,” “Gollum’s Song,” and more.
One of the most common Amazon reviews consistent from book to book is how excited the music makes their child to practice, and how fun it is to hear them playing music that inspires them. After all, kids often are drawn to music because they want to play things they know and love at first. Making sure that’s a possibility really helps to make music fun for them.