Learning Strategies for Aspiring Violists

If you’re yet another person who has fallen into a trance by the viola’s deep and sensuous songs, then welcome to the club! The beauty with this is that you can even teach yourself how to play at your own pace and time.

Though, considering all the available resources online, it pays to have a guide with specific points to jumpstart your journey with the middle child of the violin family. Violas are known for being the “second” to violins. Though violins are much more famous, many aspiring musicians are also now looking at violas as their first instrument to learn.

That being said, let’s dissect the essentials! Here are 7 simple tips for learning the viola on your own:

Rent a Viola

It costs less than purchasing a brand new one. Renting a viola gives you time to research for the best brand and size for your first buy in the future. 

Familiarize the Viola’s Anatomy

Knowing the functions of each part and if it can or cannot be detached, will also help you notice when a part needs repairing.

Warm-up Before Practice

Try shifting, arpeggios, and scales – this develops muscle memory and strengthens your fingers’ and wrists’ endurance for long pieces you might encounter in the future, preventing possible injuries.

Download Viola Tuner Apps

This hones your listening skills by helping you tune the viola by ear and is also good for drone practices. Just have it play a note, then audiate or try to copy the sound you remember the drone playing.

Keep Tabs on Forums

A free space online to post questions, suggestions, and ideas for all your viola concerns with expected feedback.

Take a look-see at these beginner-friendly sites:

  1. Viola Subreddit by Reddit.com – a very active section dedicated solely to viola discussion.
  1. Quora.com – similar to Reddit, this site may not be specific to just violas but it also has a large following of violists.

Video Tutorials

Video tutorials help polish your performance and positioning as they offer both visuals and audio to assist you step-by-step. Also, it’s not in real-time, so you can always rewind to review parts. 

  1. Youtube – a common video sharing platform used by professional violists and organizations.
  2. Easymusiclesson – If you have Facebook, this page has helpful viola tutorials for modern songs.

Cleaning and Maintenance

Make sure to snag the following items to help care for your viola:

  1. Rosin – mostly made of sap. It’s applied to the bow to ensure it grips onto the viola’s strings, creating friction that produces its rich sound.
  1. Towel – it’s ideal to use a soft microfibre cloth to wipe off your viola’s strings after each use. This prevents dust build-up from rosin and the eventual corrosion of the strings itself.
  1. Cleaning Fluid for String Instruments – If Rosin does build up on your strings, all hope isn’t lost! Just find a good cleaning fluid that works best for your situation.

At the end of the day, everyone’s learning curve is different. So there’s no specific way to learn an instrument.

For as long as patience resides in you, even the wildest instruments can be tamed.