Brain of a Violist -- the real chart!

March 25, 2016, 7:41 AM · Several weeks ago we created a Brain of a Violinist chart, in response to Classic FM's cute series of pie charts which, nonetheless, seemed a little off with the violinist pie chart. Looking at their chart for violists, I thought we could do better here, as well. Do violists really spend most of their brain power on resenting violinists and fending off viola jokes? I knew we had to dig deeper, so I picked the brains of several violists and came up with this chart:

Brain of a violist

What would you add to it? Many thanks to my viola consultants, Julie Bamberger, Carrie Salisbury, Scott Slapin and hubby Robert Niles (a former violist)!

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March 25, 2016 at 03:04 PM · I suspect there is also a tiny sliver of the pie for Bach Brandenburg #6.

March 25, 2016 at 04:05 PM · I thought it was the Walton Concerto that they all wanted to play.

How did you pick the violists' brains? Under a microscope?

March 25, 2016 at 05:00 PM · Paul, it was quite scientific, as you can well imagine. I asked several violists, "What is in your brain?" Being married to a former violist, I also had some ideas from him.

Not one said, "I wish I were a violinist!"

March 25, 2016 at 07:00 PM · Another sliver might also be dedicated to "just say NO to fingered octaves!" Though Mr. Slapin would probably disagree with this one.

March 25, 2016 at 07:42 PM · Fingered octaves are harder, but then you make up for it with easier fingered fifths.

And Laurie, remember, I bought a viola last December so "I resemble that remark."

March 25, 2016 at 09:42 PM · How about a sliver marked "All clef-switching must be justified!"

March 26, 2016 at 12:54 AM · I suggest another sliver for "Learning to read alto clef is a pain." I would also enlarge the "What is a viola?" sliver. I get so tired of explaining how a viola differs from a violin.

March 26, 2016 at 01:49 AM · It's true, many are very good at both!

March 26, 2016 at 10:38 AM · 1. Is Smetana's "From My Life" really so much more obscure than the American Quartet?

2. A violin soloist, who sometimes plays viola in chamber music, when I mentioned the slow movement of the Schumann Piano Quintet, exclaimed "My favourite!" (No apologies for spelling - her schooling was in the UK).

3. "Parts of the Brahms ARE better on the viola than on the clarinet".

4. "Some violists can actually play the Paganini!"

March 26, 2016 at 10:41 AM · Love the chart and would like to share it but not without the the missing 'to' in the final category; "I'm going (to) stuff this airline worker into my too-large case." Laurie, please correct this so I can share it. :-)

March 26, 2016 at 11:46 AM · #AltoClefMatters?

March 26, 2016 at 01:48 PM · LoveViola My first love25 years Making a living playing violin

March 26, 2016 at 05:11 PM · My bad! I fixed the orange field. If you look at it and it's still wrong, refresh the page and it should be right. Thanks for the catch!

March 28, 2016 at 09:30 PM · I was a violist and didn't know it--until 20 years later.

It's called 3rd violin!

Never did figure out what that e string was for. I can't read any notes above the g just above the lines. The rest is just blurry screeching.

March 29, 2016 at 06:50 PM · Being a violist is... listening to someone playing those octaves in the Saint-Saëns cello concerto and feeling her pain.

And I'm definitely behind Karen Collins' remark: "All clef-switching must be justified!" Especially when playing a piece that switches clefs in one place, when the exact same passage is repeated later without a clef switch.

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