The viola is a stringed instrument which is bowed or played with various techniques. The viola usually has four strings and in order to be played the violist tucks it under his chin and uses his bow or his fingers to play. Since the 18th century, the viola has been used as the middle of the violin family, between the violin and the cello.
Apart from being an important part of the orchestral string section, the viola is also a popular solo instrument.
The violin and the viola often get mixed up. This is because of the similarity in their names, the fact that they both belong to the violin family and are played in a similar way. However, with a trained eye you will be able to notice quite a few differences between the two.
First of all, the most visible difference is the size of the instruments. The viola is not only on average about 10cm longer but also wider than the violin. Apart from the size difference, there are others, however they are harder to spot with an untrained eye. Although both instruments consist of 4 strings, the notes of each string differ. Moreover, the viola is tuned to be one-fifth lower than the violin. The thicker strings require a faster bow tempo and a heavier hand.
Another difference that is harder to spot is the bow. The bow of the viola is chunkier and slightly curved while the violin bow has a straight edge.
Seeing and hearing a violist play their instrument can be a truly magical experience. However, many people decide not to try and learn because it seems difficult. The truth is, the viola isn’t necessarily an easy instrument to learn, but with the right attitude and commitment it doesn’t have to be difficult.
Before starting to play the viola it is important to know that it is a heavy instrument. It isn’t only an exercise for your mind and memory, but also for your arms. The weight of the instrument makes it harder to play than the violin. However, with the proper commitment and a good teacher, learning the viola isn’t going to be that hard! There are also a few useful tips to remember.
First of all, if you really want to learn and get better you’ll have to get used to practicing daily, even when you don’t have lessons. This might seem like a lot, but you don’t have to invest that much time, 10-20 minute sessions every day should be enough. Second, it’s crucial to remember that making mistakes is normal and it will happen regardless of who you are. Try to not get frustrated but instead learn from your mistakes and use them to improve. Last but not least, remember to have fun! Playing an instrument should be something you do for yourself and not because you have to!
The cost of viola lessons entirely depends on the teacher you choose. At TutorExtra you can browse through a variety of qualified tutors and choose the one you like the most. Prices vary between £15-£35 an hour.