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Who also plays the viola?


Pegasus
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Many people here play both instruments, but I'll start off- I mostly played the viola for years, nowadays I mostly play the violin, but I never neglect the Dark Side for very long. Whenever possible I prefer to play viola in chamber music.

The clef will become a habit when you've played a bit longer- you'll get to the point where your brain will automatically switch depending on which instrument you're holding. Though, to my chagrin, I recently had a lot of trouble when I needed to read easy viola parts on the violin- it seems i don't have a switch for that!

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Swithching clefs is really good brain exercise. I used to play my sons cellos parts with him on the violin when he was little and had no trouble reading the bass clef. When I first got the viola I played his bach suites on it and read bass clef. Then I started playing viola quartets with my recordings. After that I tried playing cello duets with my son reading bass clef again and my brain got totally confused.

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I play both violin and viola professionally. The orchestras around here (the Bay Area, CA) chiefly know me as violinist, so I play violin most of the time in the orchestras, but from time to time, I do play viola.

As a violist, I do mostly smaller gigs, such as quartets, quintets, church etc.

Usually, I don't find sightreading on viola very difficult, unless the music is particularly chromatic or contains larger skips.

Toscha

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I'm a violinist who picked up viola this summer. Reading alto clef still gives me some problems especially when sight reading partly due to the similarity of the instruments,( I'll often use violin fingering for treble clef).

Probably my biggest problem is finding time to practice the viola I play in both and outside youth orchestra and school pit orchestra and play flute in the school band so viola tends to get pushed aside for violin and flute becase I don't play in an ensemble with it(Well I did play a christmas string ensemble, but we used Christmas Kaladescope music which is fairly simple.

Viola is also more of a physical effort than violin because of it's larger size. I'm only about 5'3 or 5'4 so even on my 15 and 1/2" viola it can be a bit of a streach especially after playing the violin.

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I am a violinist who picked up the viola in february. I have completed all the suzuki viola books and am trying my hand at the stamitz, and hoffmeister concertos. I find the change to alto clef was kind of hard for me. I still write the note names above the notes just in case I blank and don't know the note, or if I revert to treble clef mode, which I sometimes do. I really like the mellowness of the viola, and that is what drew me to it. Also the fact that I thought I would have a better oppurtunity getting a job in an orchestra as a viola player.

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I started playing the viola several months ago after playing the violin for a few years. I'm currently working on Faure's Lamento - my first "proper" piece of music, since the vast majority of my playing has been by ear, or improvised. I find the alto clef pretty hard to read, as I've been reading the treble clef for about 13 years and the bass clef for about 10 so a new clef is a bit of a shock. I find I have to read alto clef as treble clef and then take the note "up", as the notes are a step higher (in letter terms) in alto. I too write the note names abouve the notes, as least for now until I learn them half-decently. I still play violin more than viola, but only because I have more experience and have a better violin than I do viola. I do love the sound of the viola though and I hope I play it a lot more in the future.

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I bought myself a good viola for my 50th birthday, never having played the instrument before, because I wanted to expand my opportunities to play chamber music. I found I learned the clef pretty quickly. Now I play viola in orchestra and violin in my regular string quartet because I want to play both instruments, but my favorite quartet instrument is the viola.

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How many of you violinists also play viola? When my son outgrew his 3/4 size cello I traded it for a viola. I started playing chanmber music with a group of women who meet once a week to sight read. It didn't take me long to learn the clef. I didn't use any kind of tricks comparing alto clef to treble or bass. I just knew that the middle line was middle C and went from there.

I had no trouble sight reading Mozart because of its predictability. But when we tried Brahms with the larger intervals and jumps back and forth between treble and alto clef I got confused.

I don't play viola as much as I thought I would. I get pretty busy with all the other things in my life but I really enjoy it. I like the darker sound a lot.

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I am a violist who also plays violin and cello. I used to play quite a bit of bass, but I sold Hank so I could get a new viola.

Clefs are just clefs. I think each should be learned individually.

Violin I only play so I can teach it. I love listening to violin, but it feels uncomfortably small to play. I will teach up to Suzuki Book 5 level and then I turn the students over to a more competent violinist, unless the student wishes to take up the viola. Since I'm new in town, that situation hasn't arisen yet, as I only have one violin student at Book 4 (Vivaldi A Minor Concerto) level, with the rest in the elementary levels.

I teach beginning cellists, but by Suzuki Book 4, I think they need a teacher who can play the advanced repertoire with ease.

I have started several bassists in the past, and similarly, the most important thing a teacher can do for a student is send them on to someone else when they have outgrown their first teacher. I have former students on various stringed instruments who are principals in their youth and festival orchestras and studying at colleges now. It's a great feeling to know that I gave them a good start, even though I am unlikely to show up on any of their resumes. smile.gif That's a good thing, though. It's a good lesson in humility and learning to be satisified not by glory, but by the evidence of a job well-done.

Steering back to the purpose of this thread, I think there are quite a few teachers who play more than one instrument and are better teachers because of it.

- Brian in St. Pete, FL

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I am a violinist and cellist who also "plays at" viola.

I'm never comfortable with viola (alto) clef. Even when I've been playing the viola a couple of hours a week and actually feel "comfortable" with it, I find that more than an hour in a session creates some mental strain. I have really put in no more than 50 life-time hours on viola, including several public performances, so I really have not that much experience.

I found that by buying and reading through Suzuki viola books 4-7, I got good experience making the transition to alto clef by taking off from familiar violin literature (as the Suzuki program does).

I agree with "strungup" about the special feeling of playing viola in a string quartet - at least if it is a good group - for some reason the viola player feels "in charge" setting the standard for rhythm and style. It has something to do with having that "little cello" under your chin. Playing almost the same notes on a cello does not feel quite that intimate. And second violin, again often with a very similar part, does not have the depth of sound to feel so commanding. Of course, if the group is not good, than playing viola in it is no better than any of the other parts.

Andy

[This message has been edited by Andrew Victor (edited 01-02-2002).]

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