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Venturing into Viola

I am a violist at heart.  It's a sort of cruel irony that violinists usually switch to viola to avoid the higher sounds but then you have to primarily teach those higher sounds to students until some of them decide to join your viola ways.

Besides just being a less commonly heard of instrument, the reason why violists are fewer in number is a physics problem.  The C string (the lowest string on the viola) is much thicker than the G.  In order to vibrate and make a sound the string must be a certain length.

This posses no problem on tiny cellos because even the smallest cello is about the size of a full-size violin.  However, the fractional violins are much smaller than that.  The shortest viola strings manufactured fit on a 12 inch viola (or a 1/2 size violin).  So the student starting the viola needs to be physically big enough in order to make the attempt.

In a nutshell: it takes awhile before a teacher can start to acquire some viola students.  You either have to wait for students that already have an interest in the instrument to find you, which is rare.  Or you have to way for your little ones to become both big enough and advanced enough to handle the switch from violin to viola.

After 6 1/2 years of teaching I have finally reached that point where I have a small batch of viola students going.  It's so refreshing!  Don't get me wrong, I love all my violin students.  It's just nice having a chance to explore and pass on knowledge for what I consider to be "my" instrument.  It's also fun trying to really figure out the subtle differences between the two instruments.  Things that, as a student, I figured out along the way but never really gave much thought to.  It makes me a better all around musician.

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