Although not so aspopular as other stringed instruments like the guitar or the violin, the viola is a classic due to its versatility and warm tone. If you’re looking to begin playing the viola, read on to learn more.
What should you know about purchasing a viola
The viola has gained a more prominent place in classical music in these years. The viola entered the world in the 18th century and it is slightly larger than the violin and tuned a fifth below the violin and an octave above the cello. Most music for the viola is written in the alto clef. Violas come in three categories: beginner, intermediate and professional.
- Beginner violas are largely machine-made and are typically fashioned from maple dyed to look like ebony, the wood used in more expensive violas. Also known as ‘student violas’, these beginner models are very affordable and are a great introduction to the instrument.
- Intermediate violas are generally of higher quality and may be made of ebony rather than maple.
- Professional violas are made of the finest ebony available and incredible detail is paid to the detailing of the pegs and fingerboards. Professional violas require a great deal of craftsmanship so they are quite rare and very expensive.
A student who is just learning to play the viola does not need to invest in anything above an intermediate viola, which is of high-enough sound quality to last a student for many, many years. If you choose to rent, you can seek out a local music store, which will require a monthly fee for use of the instrument. Yet another option is to peruse the classifieds and music-related bulletin boards to search for a used viola.
Learning to play the viola
Once you have your instrument, it’s time to seek out an instructor. Check your local phone book for music shops, many of which offer music lessons. Another option is to seek out classical music groups, orchestras or cultural centres for referrals to private instructors and student groups. Many students enjoy playing with an orchestra as they learn their instrument. Doing so will allow you to practice with a group of like-minded learners and expand your new skill set at the same time.