Saturday , June 15 2024

In Tune with the Viola: A Beginner’s Guide

Imagine a sound that weaves a spell of warmth and depth, a melody that resonates with a richness beyond its high-pitched cousin. This is the captivating world of the viola, the soulful older sibling of the violin. While the violin takes centre stage with its bright, soaring notes, the viola holds the heart of the string orchestra, filling the music with a captivating depth and complexity. For those who adore the emotional resonance of music, the viola’s warm embrace offers an unforgettable experience.

Choosing Your Perfect Instrument



The enchanting sound of a mellow and versatile beginner’s viola has captivated you, and now you’re ready to begin your musical adventure. But before you serenade the world with your newfound skills, one crucial step is choosing the perfect viola. Unlike a knight selecting their trusty steed, viola size isn’t a matter of preference – it’s about comfort and proper playing technique. Moreover, having the right viola for you as a beginner can make a world of difference in perfecting your skills, and taking your musical journey further. Want to step into another level? Find the right viola for you.

Finding the Right Fit

Just like keyboards, violas come in various sizes. A viola that’s too large can cause strain and hinder your playing, while one that’s too small will limit your reach and affect your sound. The key? Matching the viola size to your physical stature, specifically your arm length.

Rent or Buy?

As a budding viola player, you might be tempted to jump straight into purchasing your dream instrument. However, especially for beginners, renting offers several advantages:

  • Growth Spurt-Friendly:  Children (and sometimes even adults) grow quickly. Renting allows you to switch to a larger viola as your size changes, ensuring a comfortable and proper playing experience throughout your learning journey.
  • Explore Before You Invest: The viola might not be your forever instrument! Renting allows you to explore the instrument and develop your skills before committing to a significant purchase.
  • Budget-Conscious Choice: High-quality instruments can be expensive. Renting allows you to access a quality viola without the upfront financial commitment.

If, however, you’re serious about the instrument, and you already play with one size for more than a year, then it pays off to buy. Nowadays, it’s possible to find an affordable beginner’s viola so you don’t have to put too big of a strain on your budget. Also, keep in mind the viola is an instrument that retains its value as the years go by.

Learning the Basics



Finding your perfect viola for beginners is just the beginning of your musical adventure! Now it’s time to delve into the exciting world of playing the viola. While mastering this beautiful instrument takes dedication and practice, learning the basics will set you on the path to creating captivating melodies.

Posture Makes Perfect

Just like a strong foundation is essential for building, good posture is key for comfortable and successful viola playing. Sit up tall with your feet flat on the floor and your back straight but relaxed. Hold the viola gently against your collarbone, with the chinrest nestled comfortably on your jawline and not clamped down. Your left hand will support the neck of the viola from underneath, with your fingers reaching over the fingerboard to press down the strings.

Embracing the Bow

The bow is your voice for the viola, and holding it correctly is crucial for producing a beautiful sound. Imagine holding a delicate bird – relaxed but secure. Grip the bow near the frog (the bottom part) with your thumb and first two fingers, using the curve of your index finger for a natural fit. Your pinky finger should rest lightly for support, and your entire hand should be relaxed, not tense.

String Crossing Secrets

As you begin to play melodies, you’ll encounter string crossings, the technique of moving the bow between strings while maintaining a smooth sound. This might seem tricky at first, but with practice it becomes second nature. The key is to slightly tilt the bow as you cross strings, ensuring all four hairs make contact with the new string for a continuous sound. Your teacher can guide you through proper bow technique and string crossing exercises to help you achieve a smooth and expressive sound.

Unveiling Your Inner Musician

The enchanting viola has captured your heart, and now you’re armed with the knowledge to begin your musical adventure. Remember, choosing the right size beginner’s viola based on your physical stature is crucial for comfortable playing. As you embark on learning the basics, proper posture and holding the viola are essential for optimal technique. Mastering the bow hold and string crossings will pave the way for creating beautiful melodies.

Learning any instrument takes dedication and practice, but the viola’s rich, warm tones will reward your effort. Celebrate each milestone, from your first note to mastering a new piece. Most importantly, be patient, have fun, and embrace the joy of creating music. The viola awaits, ready to transform you into a storyteller through its captivating sounds.