History and Information about the Viola
The viola and the violin share a very similar history. Both originated in Europe around the 16th century. It is the middle member of the violin family, in between the violin and the cello. Because the viola requires as large a body as the player can handle, size is often measured in inches rather than the traditional ½, ¾, or full sizes of other stringed instruments. When you learn how to play the viola, you will be exploring the diverse repertoire of this sometimes-forgotten instrument. The viola is used mainly in classical music (including many orchestral and chamber works, as well as more recent, experimental compositions), but it also appears in rock, folk, and pop music.
When to Start on the Viola
You can start viola lessons around age 5, although depending on a student’s dexterity and fine motor skills, some are able to pick it up earlier. Some students also switch over from violin to viola for a number of reasons. This switch can be made at any time, but be advised that the viola is larger than the violin and reads notes differently. The viola requires a certain amount of care, as both the instrument (including the bridge and the strings) and the bow can be fragile. Students also should have begun to read and count, as most instructors will be teaching them how to read music very early on, if not right away.
Getting a Viola
Please call us so we can recommend a store from which you can purchase or rent a viola. For very young students, it is recommended to rent instruments for two reasons: 1) they will most likely grow out of instruments quickly and 2) they may lose interest (although we hope they don’t!). Most places that rent instruments will also provide repair services for their instruments.
Also, please note that a used viola is not necessarily inferior to a new viola. In fact, older instruments will often be easier to play and have a better sound quality. Look out for any large cracks or open seams, but most defects caused by age are cosmetic in nature and will not affect the playability or sound of the viola.
Purchasing Books and Supplies for Your Viola
Most books and many supplies such as strings and rosin are available online. Give us a call for local store recommendations. Your instructor can tell you which books and supplies are appropriate or needed.
**Feel free to call us at 631-476-8946 with any questions you may have. We can help provide you with additional resources.