9 things they didn't tell you about playing the viola

11 January 2019, 17:48 | Updated: 11 January 2019, 17:50

Viola problems

Thinking of learning to play the viola? Prepare yourself: here are the things no one ever tells you about the ‘big violin’.

Jennifer Stumm plays Rebecca Clarke's epic Viola Sonata with such grace and passion. Does she make you want to take up the viola? Yes? Excellent. But first, here's what you need to know about the instrument...

1. It’s heavy

Playing the viola is a workout for the eyes and the mind, but mostly the arms.



2. You always get the weird harmony in orchestra

“Can we not just have a *little* bit of the tune?” you cry to your conductor, among a sea of accidentals. No, you may not.



3. The alto clef

Yes, it's the bane of your life. Yes, you have to learn a whole new clef to play your instrument. But other musicians will secretly find this impressive and intriguing.

Alto clef meme 


4. You’ll always be the butt of the ‘viola’ jokes

No one ever told you about the constant mockery.

viola joke


5. Everyone will think you just play the violin

Yep, we know. Those guys don't even have a C string!



6. It’s so much harder than the violin

The size, the bow pressure, having to carry the whole section... it's an endless struggle.



7. On the plus side, you’ll get really muscly fingers and hands

Forget sports: all you need is a string instrument and some pacy fingering to get those appendages in shape.



8. Also, your muscle memory will be on POINT

Once you get used to being locked in 'viola neck' all rehearsal, you'll be a virtuoso before you know it.



9. You’re one in a million

Unlike the fifty violinists battling for the orchestra leader spot, if you want that front desk space, IT'S YOURS.


Violists: you're essential. Never forget that.

[Cue smug smile to the second violin section]