Viola when starting out on strings?


said: Dec 9, 2007
 1 posts

I have a six year old who is very musically bright. I can’t keep up with him, in fact. He is playing piano and is starting to read notes. The note reading is going well.

I’m contemplating starting him on viola but noticed that this instrument uses the alto clef. Am I asking for trouble mixing the different clefs? treble for piano and alto for viola?

His older sister plays violin and his older brother plays cello so I thought it would be fun to have the full complement and they can play ensemble work together which would be a lot of fun and very motivating for them.

Maybe a better way would be to start him on violin and try viola when he’s older?

Gabriel Villasurda said: Dec 10, 2007
Gabriel Villasurda81 posts

I can’t think of any crucial reason why your child shouldn’t start right away on the viola as long as other things are equal.

  1. Be sure the instrument is small enough.

  2. Will there be any opportunity to play with other violists? Will there be any group experiences? This is a very important consideration. Many institutes and workshops do not offer much for young violists. Perhaps for this reason alone, starting on violin and switching later is often done.

  3. I don’t think note reading will be difficult. If your child plays piano where two clefs are already understood, a third clef (right in the middle) which operates on the same principles should be no sweat.

  4. Be sure to stick with lessons and the Suzuki repertoire well into the advanced books. Once your child begins to play in orchestra, the viola parts will be much too simple to be stimulating. Keep pushing the technique. Adult violists need to play high, fast and complicated just like violinists and cellists. School viola parts are notoriously boring and often dumbed down. It is important that violists continue to develop their skills beyond the demands of school arrangements.

  5. A fine violist is a joy and will be in great demand by college and civic orchestras plus chamber groups.

Good luck.

Gabe Villasurda

Gabriel Villasurda
Ann Arbor MI

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