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First Time Viola Players
By Katie Senn
7/31/2017 2:21:00 PM

First Time Viola Players

Congratulations on choosing the viola! The viola is the alto voice of the orchestral string world; it is in a lower pitch that violin, but higher pitch than the cello. It is also an excellent first instrument, because it's available in fractional sizes, allowing children to size up as they grow. As a music student, or a parent of a music student, you will want to know these basics soon after purchasing or renting your instrument from West Music.

Parts of the Viola

Below is a diagram of the viola. Click on the image to enlarge it.
viola diagram

Taking Your Viola Out of Its Case... CAREFULLY!

The viola is a fragile instrument and should be handled with care. Follow these instructions or the instructions given to you by your music director to prevent damaging the instrument.

1. Place your instrument case on a flat, steady surface.
2. Make sure the case is facing upwards before opening.
3. Release any Velcro or ties holding down the instrument.
4. Gently lift the viola out of its case and hold it with both hands.

Before packing up your instrument, make sure to clean the viola and its bow with a soft cloth. Cleaning the instrument, bow, and strings will help maintain the protective varnish on the wood and help the strings last longer. Then, carefully place the viola back into its case, again using both hands. Make sure every buckle or snap is fastened and every zipper fully closed before picking up the case again.

Holding Your Viola

Another key skill to learn early on is how to properly hold your viola. You can do so by following the 3 basic steps outlined below. However, you should have your child ask their music director or instructor for more specific directions including proper posture.

1. Start by holding your viola over your head. The instrument will be parallel to the floor with the scroll facing towards your left.
2. Lower it onto your left shoulder.
3. Place the chin rest under the left side your jaw, keeping the violin level with the floor.

Related Articles

Have questions? Need advice? West Music is here for you! Give our school orchestra experts a call at 800-373-2000. 

Adapted with permission from Alfred Music's Sound Innovations for String Orchestra 1: Viola.

Tags: beginner, orchestra, viola, katie senn
Categories: Band & Orchestra
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