I have played the violin for 40 years. For about 20 years I have also played the viola, mainly for teaching purposes. What puzzles me is why the current debate about changing from violin to viola, all of a sudden it seems the trend to swap.
Is it the novelty of trying something different, maybe it's the mental challenge of changing between different clefs and trying to master a bigger instrument. Perhaps, as has been suggested before, the players who choose to swap prefer an easier, slower pace and have difficulty with the violins higher grades (although the viola has higher grades also).
There is also the fact that there are not enough violists so demand can also be considered.
Personally I find the viola to be a clumsy instrument to handle. My viola was a difficult instrument to find it is 15", and even that size I find it very cumbersome as I have small hands. I find it hard to play fast passages on the fat strings. The lower pitch is not appealing to me, way too sedate.
I much prefer the violin. It is a quick vibrant instrument with challenging repertoire in the higher grades. I have played both instruments in the orchestra and much prefer the violin, I like the challenge of the super high passages that speed along at a cracking pace. I finger the high bright strings with zeal, and drink in the brightness. I love my violin!
Forty Years ago I passed an aural test at my new high school in Adelaide, South Australia. I was asked which instrument I would like to play, I replied that 'the violin looks good', little did I know that it would become my passion in life.
I devoured everything my teacher set. I loved all the technical work, Sevcik, Schradieck, Kreutzer, concertos, sonatas everything! The faster the better! I went through University full steam ahead performing then discovered a new love which I began in 1978, teaching the violin.
I have taught the violin for 34 years now and love it! I am still amazed at so many new and old techniques I read about and am always on the lookout for different ways of teaching technical skills. I study up on technique and am always refreshing my knowledge base. I love presenting the violin in the Classical tradition and also surprising the students with the new wave of classical mixed with rock and pop music.
I recently asked my students had they heard the Fifth Symphony by Beethoven, they all looked blank until I played the traditional version to them on IPad which they recognised immediately. Then I played them David Garrett's version from his CD Rock Symphonies and they were gobsmacked as they hadn't heard anything like it before. Youtube is a blessing because a lot can be learnt by watching how other people explain techniques, old and new, I use it as a teaching tool and it inspires students to have a go at different things, and exposes them to the classics, which are not heard on their media.
I love my violin teaching and performing, it fills my life. I have a gorgeous French instrument which does have a name, 'Jerome' after its maker.
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