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Mendy Smith

It's just like a viola, but smaller

August 26, 2009 at 1:48 AM

Smaller by around 3 inches.  Yes, this life-time violist broke down and bought a violin.  It was a very interesting experience playing a violin for the first time in my life at the shop.  At first I was almost afraid that I'd break it as tiny as it is.  Then I was amazed that I could reach well over an octave.  Dare I even mention how incredibly easy it is to shift to the end of the fingerboard with no strain.  The down-side has been playing sharp, reading treble clef with an eing, too many ledger lines, and loss of the richness of tone on the Ging like I get on the viola.

Just to make the record clear, I am NOT switching to violin as a primary instrument.  I just can not give up viola after playing it for so many years.  Rather this is to augment the church "string section" to make a proper quartet (we have 1 violinist, 2 violists and a cellist), and to broaden my horizons musically with new chamber works.

Still can't quite believe that I'm really doing this.  Well, the journey has just become even more interesting than before.

From Karen Allendoerfer
Posted on August 26, 2009 at 1:59 AM

Welcome to the "light" side!

From Elinor Estepa
Posted on August 26, 2009 at 8:54 PM

I am on the flip side, I taken up viola, for they are lots of surplus for violin players, now, that I started, I got an invite to play for chamber and quartet for fun. In an adult orchestra, I'll be on the viola section. Go figures!

I remember on the old thread, that if you know how to play the viola, they treat you as " a drop dead and georgeous", its true! I have playdates, than before. Though, don't get me wrong, I love my violin!

Happy for you that everythings work out very well, from the move to your music journey. I always read your blog.

Keep us posted!

From Karen Allendoerfer
Posted on August 27, 2009 at 10:18 AM

Elinor, I'm like you, I'm a violinist who took up the viola.  When I did, Mendy welcomed me to the "dark side." 

I've found, however, that I'm still more in demand for chamber music as a violinist--at least among amateurs.  A string quartet needs 2 violins vs. only 1 viola, and needs someone who can handle the 1st violin part.  In my experience, many of the violinists who can really do so are often professionals--music teachers, etc.--and are extremely busy, with less time to play and rehearse, especially if they're not getting paid.  So, being up for the 1st violin parts, and being willing to put in the time to practice them, has given me opportunities there too.

From Mendy Smith
Posted on August 28, 2009 at 12:59 AM

Hehe Karen.  You aren't joking!  Lindsey (yes, she has a name now) is light as a feather. 

The only violin music I have at the moment are chamber works that are a challenge on the viola.  Passagalia and Death and the Maiden are currently out of my league on violin, even the 2nd part :)  So now I'm wondering what Suzuki book to start off with... 2, 3 or be brave and go for Book 4 or 5,

From William Hurley
Posted on August 28, 2009 at 3:34 AM

for those moving from viola to violin, consider looking into a mezzo violin. it's roughly an inch longer than a standard violin and tuned the same. the sound is rich on the low end, but maintains the color of the e string. i've played one in solo, chamber, and orchestral settings for several years and love it.

all the best,


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