GNG Music Instruction | Viola
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Viola

Viola

OVERVIEW

The viola is primarily the harmony part of the orchestra. It has a lower voice than the violin and adds support to the violin. It shares three strings with the violin and sounds an octave higher than the cello. Many composers have utilized the viola as a solo voice as well.

VIOLA HISTORY

The viola, much like the violin, dates to the early 1500′s and is still used today. Gaspara da Salo is credited with making some of the first violas. Bach and Mozart were both viola players and they composed music that used the viola as both a solo instrument and a partner to the violin. The difference between the viola and the violin are that the viola has a larger body and the lowest string is a “C” which is a fifth below the lowest string on the violin. It has a rich, deeper sound than the violin.

WHEN TO START

We recommend that kids start playing the viola at an early age. They make different sizes for smaller individuals, 13″, 14″, 15″ and 16″ (full size) are different sizes for different size beginners. By the time the student is fully grown, they will be on a full size viola. Starting with a smaller viola will not affect the player switching to a larger instrument.

VIOLA BRANDS

Hermet Schartel, Bellafina, Florea, Yamaha, Karl Willhelm, Josef Lazar, William Lewis & Son and Strunal are very common makers of both violins and violas. The different types of wood used will affect the sound as well as the type of bow! Be sure to try different brands and different bows and find the sound that you like!

VIOLISTS

Carl Stamitz, Lionel Tertis, William Primrose, Yuri Bashmet and Paul Hindemith are all virtuoso violists. Violists can be found in every orchestra across the world and are found in string quartets and pop music also. Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour also plays violin and viola.

ADVANCED TECHNIQUES

Learning how to play the viola can take you to different genres and world music. Predominately in orchestras, the viola is also found in country, pop, and rock bands with each type having its own distinct style of playing. Check out www.playmusic.org for more information about string instruments.

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