Viola, Cello or neither?

December 19, 2008 at 07:20 AM ·

Okay, with the holidays upon us and Christmas coming so soon... I gave in. When asked what wanted, I said another instrument. So the journey begins...

Do I get a viola, cello, or stay with just the violin?

I'll give you my thoughts on each of those options:

Viola- Too similar to the violin in my opinion and I'm worried that it may screw up some things for me when playing the violin. But it's got a beautiful sound to it and there are some things that would be fun to play on it. And, I think I would progress faster than I would with a cello, because it's similar to the violin.

Cello- Could be difficult to learn. Beautiful sound and so many things playable on it. And maybe after a few years I could be playing the suites. It's the one that in the end, I would want to play.

Staying with just the violin- My future could be focused. But it could be boring and I may have more oppurtunities being able to play two string instruments than just one.

So.... Can you give me your input everyone? Opinions, stories, experience, other options?
Thanks so much and I'm looking forward to hearing each of your thoughts

Replies (38)

December 19, 2008 at 01:59 PM ·

Paul - Your question probably has no wrong answers.  I only play violin, so I can only speak from that experience and tell you you will never be bored playing only violin, and you can always play the cello suites on violin.  Partly, the answer to your question may depend on what your goals are in the long run.  If you are going to try to make your living in music or have a life in which music plays a major role, adding viola can only help.  Violists are always in demand.  Otherwise, I do not see any great advantages to one course over the other.  Other folks likely have different views.

December 19, 2008 at 02:25 PM ·

I added the viola as 2nd instrument as an adult, after starting on the violin.  You could play the cello suites on the violin, I guess, but I don't think they sound as good there.

I haven't found that playing the viola has screwed up anything serious for me with the violin, really just the opposite. If anything, it has helped me become more flexible with music reading.  After learning alto clef I've become less skittish about ledger lines, I'm more comfortable with just going for it and looking at the relationships between notes.  It's also, surprisingly, helped me feel more confident with solo performing.  For some reason I like the way I sound better on the viola as a soloist; the sound has more substance and richness.  And I think I hear pitch a bit better in the viola's range; when the violin gets high I start to lose my bearings, intonation-wise.

One thing I have not found is that it's easier to find opportunities to play on viola--although that is commonly believed.  I am in more demand as a violinist.  The orchestra I play in has 8-10 good violas, but our 1st violin section is only 6-8, more often 6 than 8.  I've also been asked to play in small groups through the orchestra, and it's always a violin they need.    This appears to be specific to violin I.   That's just been my personal experience, that you are in demand as a violinist as well if you are willing to take on the harder violin part and put in the time to practice it.

December 19, 2008 at 03:54 PM ·

Methinks it depends on what you want with music. If that is to become a professional violinist, you may want to be careful about introducing another instrument that is different from and just as unplayable as a violin. Opinions vary about the usefulness of viola experience for violinists -- I've heard it said that it is beneficial, and that in some teaching traditions violin students are encouraged to take up viola as well.

December 19, 2008 at 04:08 PM ·

You said that, in the end, you would want to play cello. Are you saying that your heart's desire is to play cello? If that is so, then the answer is easy. If cello is truly what you'd prefer to be playing, then you should go for it.

December 19, 2008 at 04:30 PM ·

The reason I'm telling you to pay attention to your heart's desire, is because I regret denying my heart's desire for so many years. I knew when I was a little girl that I wanted to play the violin, yet I put it off until I was in my 40's. When I was young, there was no string section in my school band so I played french horn instead. While I did enjoy that instrument, and I did like being in the band, it wasn't my first choice. It never even occurred to me that I could have chosen to play the violin anyway... Later, I grew up and got married and my children were born, and I thought I didn't have enough time or money. I waited until the children were completely grown up before satisfying my life-long yearning. I'm very happy to be doing this now, but what might I have achieved, if only I'd started earlier? The "what-if's" can drive you crazy, if you let them.

So... trust yourself... pay attention to that inner voice that is giving you the answer.

December 19, 2008 at 05:02 PM ·

...play a piano?

I'd say give viola a try. You shouldn't worry that much, as different instrument require different techniques and approach so it's inevitable when you start a new instrument. At least it's not as bad as woodwind family - trying to switch from oboe to clarinet to flute is PITA.

At least, what you learned in the violin fingering can be applied on viola as well (especially helps a lot in play by ear), perhaps you can choose a smaller viola to play. Also, talking about career, violist has got high demand too (at least in my country, which in fact, GREAT demand).

December 19, 2008 at 05:53 PM ·

 

I would hope that the actual sound of the instrument would factor into a decision like that, after all… you’re going to be spending a lot of time with that sound. Do you really not have a preference between the 2?

December 19, 2008 at 06:54 PM ·

I like your idea of taking another instrument, but isn't that going to take away from time that you would give to violin?Especially now, when  you are fighting to progress on violin , wouldn't it be a bit dangerous in this sence to do too many things? Of course it depends on what you want from that new instrument: how much time of practice do you want to give it? How much do you want to get involved with it? Is violin still going to be your main instrument? Will it make you loose your focus on violin?

 

But if you really want to take another strings instrument , in my opinion , practically speaking , viola would be a better choice , because the differences between it and the violin are not that big (as between violin and cello) , so I guess you would progress faster on a viola . Also, many violin teachers today are also viola teachers .Than , like others said here, there are less violists out there than violinists , so the demand may be greater - thus from this point of view it would not hurt to play the viola as well.

 I would wisely think before taking the decision . But whatever decision you take , it has to be yours , so I hope it will be the best one for you.Good luck!

 

Your friend ,

Larisa

December 19, 2008 at 07:40 PM ·

If the main attraction of the cello stems from your desire to be able to play the Bach suites, but you feel that learning to play the cello might be too much of a distraction to your studying the violin, then you may want to check out the violoncello da spalla ("cello of the shoulder"), sometimes also called violoncello piccolo ("little cello") which I understand to be instantly playable by violinists.

The downside is that there are only very few makers who make this type of instrument and it will be difficult to find one at a basement bargain price.

Here is a video of Dmitri Badiarov playing a Bach suite on his violoncello da spalla ...

jp.youtube.com/watch (http://jp.youtube.com/watch?v=KFhxbCCYCZE)

December 19, 2008 at 08:18 PM ·

What about the guitar?  My son got a cheap acoustic guitar a year ago for Christmas from my husband and he loves playing it as a stress releaser.  It's really easy to teach yourself chords.  My son played viola for a semester in his strings orchestra a long while ago but didn't particularly enjoy it. 

My middle son plays cello.  It's a beautiful instrument.  I'd say it's easier than the violin (I played both instruments with my children until I had to quit when my 3rd son was born) because it's a little more forgiving since the strings are longer; at least that's what I found.

My son dabbles in piano, too, (took lessons from my mom for about 6 months but quit) and he wants to learn the pennywhistle.  I think if you keep the violin as your main focus but just learn other instruments for pleasure and relaxation, that could be beneficial.  Or, we do know a number of students who are very proficient on 2-3 instruments but they began pretty early in life and typically, but not always, are from families where music is the main thing.  I even know one family who is making their boys learn viola because they want to enhance their chances of scholarship money.  They are piano players first.  I wouldn't recommend this since they don't really enjoy playing the viola....but I could be wrong and they might very well end up enjoying the viola and getting scholarships while my son is working at McDonalds. :-)

Good luck in your decision, Paul.

December 19, 2008 at 09:06 PM ·

Hello everyone, thank you for your replies to my cry for guidence.

Before I reply to each of you, I'll kind of just give my general opinion. Out of viola and cello, the cello would be what I'd want to add. I've messed around with both a viola and cello before and I've got to say that there's just no spark with the viola to me. And when I played the cello, the vibrato I was able to produced and the simple sounds were beautiful to me and I just loved it. And yes, I know there are transcriptions for the suites for violin and viola, but it's not the same. And just so you know, playing the suites isn't the only reason I'd like to pick up cello as well.

Tom- Thank you for you opinion and your view on this matter

Karen- Thanks for showing me what someone who has already gone through it, thinks.

Bart- Yes, that's kind of the main worry behind adding another instrument. I don't want to get off track with the violin, yet I think it could be beneficial to have another instrument as well.

Glenda-  I would like to follow my heart... But my "inner voice" is playing out two scenarios. One is "stay with the violin, and only the violin! Anything else could make you lose it all and cause a change for the worse" the other being "Follow what you desire and let things play out"..... I mean, I think the cello and violin could go either way. So I don't really know what to do.

Casey- I'll take what you have to say into consideration when I'm deliberating with myself.

Christina- I do have a preference. The viola is beautiful to some, but not really to me... Nothing about it makes me feel like I'm missing anything. With the cello, I love the range of emotions capable of being expressed through it just like the violin. There's definately something about it that captures my heart just like the violin does.

Larisa- Your comment is one of the two sides of me which are arguing with themselves on what to do if that makes sense. But know that I will take what you said into consideration.

Rebecca- I have an acoustic guitar but it just sits in the basement. It did nothing for me and there was no sense in me to want to pursue it. I bought a cheap little instrument called a Scottish Chanter, a cousin of the bagpipes and what everyone starts on before them. It's an interesting little instrument and I take it out from time to time. I have a digital piano that I got last year as a present. But it's not like a keyboard at all. It's just like a normal piano, but with the benefit of changing sounds. I often will take piano scores and orchestrate them using the strings function. I'm not particularly good at the piano and I don't practice it regularly. I seriously can only play like four songs... Clair de lune, Canon in D, part of a Mozart sonata and some of the piano part for Andre Previn's Tango Song and Dance. So as you can tell the piano isn't a main interest of mine but I think if I had lessons I could have a chance with it.

And to all of you: I know I haven't mentioned it that much before but through junior high I was in band as well as orchestra and full orchestra. Playing the trumpet, sax for 3 years and french horn for a very breif period. Having played brass instruments and a woodwind gave me good experience.

But with being a professional, you see that most play the violin, as well as the viola and sometimes even the piano. But I've never heard of a violinist-cellist combination.

So I think my ending now will be to go to the music store and just see what happens. I'll play around with a viola and a cello and then see what happens. Hopefully I can get someone to take me there this weekend.

December 19, 2008 at 10:15 PM ·

It really sounds like you want the cello.  I'm not sure, after what you've written, why you'd even bother messing around with a viola at all. 

December 19, 2008 at 11:17 PM ·

Well it's because it's what I'm trying to do what will be best for me in the long run. You know what I mean? In the sense that what you want isn't necessarily what is best for you...

December 19, 2008 at 11:47 PM ·

Paul:  Looking at the situation in a really clinical way - I seem to remember you saying that your aim was to study violin at university/conservatoire and because you started late you were having to work really hard to catch up with your contemporaries. 

If you want to do a music degree - and make violin your first study instrument - I'd suggest that you might find it really beneficial at this point to take some serious keyboard lessons so that by the time you hopefully get to the point of applying for schools, you've got the necessary keyboard skills to deal with that side of the course. 

I too think that there is a big danger of picking another string instrument right now and getting distracted too much from the violin...

December 19, 2008 at 11:57 PM ·

I agree with Karen.

If you don't have a burning desire to play the viola...don't do it!  I've been interested in them for years - so I got one.  No regrets.

Karen is correct too - I thought I'd be in demand as a violist.  Turns out we have violists coming out of our ears!  I'm more more in demand as a 2nd violinist - and I'm quite happy in that position.

BTW...playing the viola has improved my violin playing!  My intonation was always fine...but now it's much better, since I had to work harder to find the proper intonation on the viola - that translated into more finesse on the violin.

If it weren't for reading that C clef, I'd be laughing.  As it is...I'll just slowly keep plugging away at it.

 

 

 

December 20, 2008 at 04:27 AM ·

Burn both of them (cello burns longer) and take up the piano!

Seriously though, Rosalind has good advice.  The piano is important to play if you don't, mostly for theory and musical understanding.  Right now you want to be working on your violin technique, right?  If you pick up another string instrument you're going to have to slog through piles of technique anyways and I'm not sure what the benefits are, besides that you like to do it (then again, tons of violinists play the viola).  With piano you don't have to worry about technique or how many hours you're putting in too much and can open your eyes to some interesting musical lessons.

December 20, 2008 at 06:01 AM ·

Okay......

I guess I'll go against my heart and just go to the piano. I'll do what's necessary.

December 20, 2008 at 09:44 AM ·

Hm, before you dash out to buy a piano, here's my little story of all three strings:

I started as a child on violin, but didn't put in the time to advance far early on.  I took up viola fairly seriously in my late teens, but found the repertoire a bit limited and the instrument's size uncomfortable.   I've never missed the viola since giving it up, despite loving the tone.

Took up violin again later and got more chamber music, solo and orchestral satisfaction that way.  But I wasn't happy with my tone, so took up cello for about a year a few years ago and absolutely loved it.  It's my favourite in terms of tone, and I don't think you'd find the technique and bass clef that difficult after years of violin.  The principles are so similar, even if the movements are different - a lot of it is in the mental work.  For instance, I was playing at about grade 4-5 level within a few weeks on the cello.  I'm not particularly talented, just managed to 'translate' my violin skills to the cello.  The hardest thing for me on cello was the sheer physical effort required until the muscles develop.  I find the cello repertoire very exciting, but then committed violists will say the same about viola repertoire.

But in the end I decided I was dividing my time and energy too much and re-focused on violin.  That has really paid off, as now I generally play at a level I can enjoy and with a tone I like. 

So my advice would be go for cello: the tone is the best in the world, as a violinist you already have many of the required skills and knowledge, the repertoire is fantastic, you can probably join a chamber group sooner than, say, a late-starter violinist could, and it's just such a beautiful big lovely instrument.

 

December 20, 2008 at 04:16 PM ·

I like your answer a lot.

And I think I could still be a violinist, devoting my time and a cellist  and put in a half hour of piano a week....

I want to go to the music store and just see if there's some otion for me to take an instrument for a month or two and see what happens.

December 20, 2008 at 10:35 PM ·

I'd say a half-hour of piano a day will be required to get going.

I followed along with my daughter when she took lessons as a child (she's now in her final 2 years of regular lessons and is starting to teach piano).  I managed to get to about RCM Grade 3 piano, that took me about an hour a day for quite a long time (I'm slow on the pick-up ;)).  The piano is excellent  for learning theory, as was mentioned.  It's also wonderful to help you visualize music.

Don't force yourself to learn something you have no interest in. 

December 20, 2008 at 11:19 PM ·

Hi Paul,

I still think you really should think twice before taking another instrument now. What you are doing on violin (recovering what others learned in more years )is already hard and it takes a lot of time, even if you are talented.Learning another instrument is a good idea , but usually there should be a principal one and a secundar one. Doing too many things in the same time would not be dangerous in the sence that it  takes  your mind away from your primary goal? Just a little thought.

 

Take care,

Larisa

December 21, 2008 at 12:15 AM ·

 try the cello since you seems to be quite interested on that. I would though, if there is any nearest teacher around here, but unfortunately, there is not. I'm sure, that is totally different from violin, I always think that its the other personality I have that I would like to discover or express through a cello.

 I also have a viola, which in my mind I can learn to play for the techniques are  at least similar to violin. I have also a friend who plays a cello (but not a teacher material) and everytime she play it, it always leaves me this feeling that quite different from the violin.

Goodluck on your exploration. It will come to you, what is meant to be your best intrument(s).

Happy Christmas!

 

December 21, 2008 at 12:40 AM ·

Larisa,

I'm not quite sure of the question you posed...

The violin would still be my first instrument and another would be the second if you know what I mean.... Of course I could learn the piano, but I've always had trouble reading piano staff, and I'm not coordinated enough to be reading two different things, and playing two different things at once. . .

But what I'm thinking of now, is going to the music store (probably Monday), and just picking a cello and sit down, and play and see what happens... If I feel that it's something that I need to pursue, then I'll go from there... I had this feeling with the violin, but none of the other instruments I've ever played.

I've sat at the bench of many grand pianos in many settings and there really isn't anything special that happens with me. It's like there isn't any music inside me to bring to the instrument.  But the one time I took a cello for a few minutes, I instantly had a connection with it and knew it was different. When I took the bow to the string it was like music needed to come out of me and it was there, but I didn't know where it was coming from.

The only two instruments this has ever happened on are the violin and cello.

When I hear the violin or cello being played it's like something just entrances me and I'm lifted away by the music. This doesn't happen when I'm playing/hearing the saxophone, trumpet or piano.

I really don't know how to explain it... It's just like I have a connection with the two instruments and I see the correlation between them. When I listen to a piece like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4MEUIGjfHNw I'm taken away... When I listen to something like a Beethoven piano sonata that doesn't happen.

I hope you can relate to what I mean in some way.

December 21, 2008 at 12:54 AM ·

Now I'm totally confused.

If you have a connection with an instrument,  go and learn it.  You can't talk yourself into having a connection.

 

December 21, 2008 at 01:05 AM ·

Paul,I think I understand.You must,at least try a cello.You should try it out,in fact-you must......I did not notice in your previous posts----have you ever attempted to play a cello  ???   Sounds like tons of fun--------give it a whirl   !!!

 

December 21, 2008 at 01:21 AM ·

Joe,

Yes but just for a few minutes... I stole my friend's cello in orchestra once last year and fell in love.

December 21, 2008 at 01:24 AM ·

Ok , I listened to the Kodaly Sonata played by  Janos Starker and also by Yo-Yo Ma , and you are right :it is breath-taking. yes , the cello is a wonderful instrument , and if you feel that much attracted to it , than definetely you should explore more that part of you.

I guess what I was trying to say was only to not lose your focus on violin .But you are the one who knows best what you want ,so take the decission that will make you happy.Deffinetely , the cello is a great instrument .

 

Take care,

Larisa

December 21, 2008 at 04:01 PM ·

For the "long haul" I think most people would be able to play cello for years longer than violin (and definitely, viola).

 

Pianists do seem to go on forever. I have (in the past few years) played chamber music with pianists who were 87, 93, and 99 years old -- still going pretty strong (once pro-level players, all). Their ears seem to go a little before their fingers.

 

I play both violin and cello. Even on days when arthriitis limits my violin skills, I can whip out a decent Bach Suite on cello.

 

As a violinist, once you get over the different ways to use your two hands on bow and fingerboard, most of what you learned playing violin will help you play cello.  I was playing chamber music with some adults (I was 14) within 10 days of the first time I ever touched a cello - and joined the community orchestra within a month.

 

Bet you can too.

 

Andy

December 21, 2008 at 04:01 PM ·

I am not the specialist in playing too instruments at the same time. I did play flute when I started the violin but I quited flute because I wanted to specialize in one instrument and get it really well on day ( I hope it will come...:) I don't know for the viola but I do know a bit for the cello (how cute when you see yo yo ma an slava on the cello... beautiful sound and looks easy...) But my mother, in her 40 s wanted to take an instrument for the first time of her life and gave a try to the cello. I went with her to a few lessons to assist her and help her at home in her practices (yes here it is the daughter who helps her mother!!!!!! lol!) Of course, I tries the cello myself (too curious I was to see this instrument, this big violin).  I will try to sum up the pros and cons of a cello (seen by a violinist)

pros- beautiful sound (not at beginning though)

         - zen (how relaxing) You can lie on it and hugg it like a big dog when you want to rest a little (which is impossible with the violin!)

- you play always sitting on a chair! 

- in general the persons around you are less bothered with a low pich instrument than with a high pitch instrument ( a mom that was a student in cello told me that when she played violin, her family had a harder time to accept her high pitch practices than when she practices with the cello)

Cons-

Are you very strong! here again genetics... Sorry but as a very little weak finger person, it was very hard to learn how to make a note properly. The strings are BIG and much higher from finger board than a violin. Much of the time, you make horrible sounds because the string is not pressed properly. It wouldn't have been impossible but.... I would never have succeded very well and my teacher (told me) that persons like me usually suck at the cello (better to hear this sonner than later and I know she is honnest and didn't say this meanly).  It is better if you have bigger hands with much extension because the distances between the fingers are very big. 

The bow hold is different

the instrument is heavier to move around (but if you like it, you don't care about this one)

You will have a hard time to afford a good cello that plays well (starts at 15 000 can $ and more, often 20 000$) It looks big but this quality of cello is the equivalent of a few thousands worth violin. 

It is a joy to play on a good instrument and chaper ones sometimes lead to frustration! So, it is impossible for the average persons to even think of having a good quality cello.

Here are the pros and cons seen by a violinist. I love the cello though and find its sound beautiful! My mom quited.... too much trouble for her and too weak to play well.  I had calluses from violin but her nothing and it really was more of a physical torture for her than pleasure!

But if you can do it, great! Tell us news!

Anne-Marie

December 21, 2008 at 04:44 PM ·

I'll let you know what happens....

And I think I'm going musically insane. I was up til 12 30 last night transcribing the Bach two part inventions so that they're sort of playable on violin. And I'm proud of myself because I learned Fur Elise by ear :)

December 27, 2008 at 10:05 PM ·

Paul , I want to tell you that since you posted this thread here I kept thinking about how it is to play a second string instrument (a string instrument that is played with a bow , I mean :D ). At the Christmas party , held in my friend's house , I "met" my friend's cello. Well , the curiosity beat me and I said that I am not living my friend's house until I am not able to play a real melody (maybe a short piece) on the cello. T

The position seemed uncomfortable at the beginning , and I wasn't even able to make a straight line with the bow on the strings , and to not make an ugly sound :D . (not to mention that the distances between fingers seemed so huge!)But then , I got back to the instrument a couple of times that evening , and each time it was better. I had to adapt to a different kind of vibrato ( if on the violin you vibrate forward-backward, on the cello you vibrate side-ways) . I only came to the instrument about 5 times , and I didn't spend too much time on it , but at the end of the evening I was excited  to play "Ave Maria" on the cello in front of the guests.It was really a nice experience , and now I am thinking about renting a cello, not for smth else but for my  personal enjoyment , when I have time left from the violin.

 

So , my conclusion is : it is not that hard after all for a violinist to play the cello . There are of course some big differences , but I noticed the instruments have  a couple of common principles as well. So , than , if you really want to learn it , go ahead and do it! It is a wonderful instrument!

December 28, 2008 at 12:36 AM ·

I got myself a cello two years ago, pretty much on a whim, and found I made quick progress.  It didn't hurt my violin playing; actually, I think it added strength to my left hand and finally made it possible for me to play tenths with greater ease (on the cello you cannot avoid extended hand positions for long, and it teaches you to open your hand up rather than painfully contort your fingers to reach).  The weird thing to get used to is that everything is mirror-image.  You also have to be careful not to strain your back.  But it's a real kick having a big, rumbling C string!

December 28, 2008 at 12:52 AM ·

I wasn't able to get a cello because of the troubling economic times... It affects my family directly as my father is a financial advisor... Years ago that was the job to have if you wanted to make it big but now it's the job that you're screwed if you have.

So yeah, no cello now but maybe in the future.

December 30, 2008 at 03:36 PM ·

Paul,

I just read this post. My humble advise would be to always learn what you can and are able to. Both the viola and cello are simply relative to what you are already doing. Simply apply your talent to them and you will not only increase your "marketablity"  in the business, but be diverse in your art. The advantages of the viola are that the instrument is in demand  and you would probably not have much trouble in the transition from the violin. The cello would come in very handy when it comes to being able to give a good continuo part in Baroque music. I often find that some 'cellists are great when they are performing solo work for thier instrument, but are lost when it comes to renderning a good backup continuo with a harpsichordist, and are few in number when it comes down to the proper performance of the job.

Don't be discouraged by the fact that a 'cello is out of the question right now simply because of price. There are many instruments "of useful quality" available a price that is under $500 or even less. I seen where E-Bay is offering a number of cellos for under $300. Just make sure that they offer a return policy if you don't like the instrument. They are not "master instruments", but will do the job, and that is they will at least allow you to begin learning the instrument, which is a good start. Once you have mastered the instrument, and I know you will, move up to a better one when money is better. Don't wait too long, as time will have passed where it could have been used to improve yourself and your talent. You will find that it is a decision that will help you in the future. You have the desire and the time, and your young enough to literally master the instrument if you really work at it. NOthing is impossible once you set your mind to it. 

 If you find an inferior instrument, simply have a luthier  make sure it is set up properly and it should be fine.  Check out rental options at a violin store or keep a keen eye open for ads from people selling used instruments. You would be amazed of the quality instruments that are available, it just takes a bit of detective work to find them. The current economy seems to work in a way (both in good ways for some and bad for others) where unbelievable bargains can be found because people need money. Sadly, people are being forced to sell many things at a sacrifice in order to make ends meet.

I hope this encourages you to not limit your talent. And the musical world needs more accomplished Baroque continuo players!

Jerald Franklin Archer

December 30, 2008 at 05:23 PM ·

I would say that if you are at all interested in getting regular gigs, have a viola background, because there are many more chamber ensemble gigs for violists than violinists.  It depends on the area of course, but there are so few violists to go around, and so many more violinists.

If you are interested in private teaching, I find it very useful having gotten a background in all 3 to some extent.  I can instruct through Suzuki bk. 3 in cello, Suzuki bk. 5-6 in viola, and obviously all of them in violin.  This allows me to fulfill several niches for my community.  Forcing myself to learn (and relearn, if I've taken a break for too long) alto clef makes me a very valuable clinician as well.

Let me also add that viola for me only reinforced certain things on violin-- if not expanded them, or made them easier.  Bow control, left hand technique, all these things are similar enough to really enhance each other.  Being an accomplished violinist, once I was acclimated to the viola size, I was a big hit with the viola professor, who still insists I reconsider a life in the viola world. ;-)  The only problem with viola for me is... you guessed it... alto clef. =P

I really must support the motion for piano, too.  If you were to seriously go after piano, as I am considering doing, you would be such a huge help to your students as far as accompaniment in lessons goes.  I include myself when I say how valuable playing with the orchestra part or piano accompaniment is when preparing any piece that requires such.

January 1, 2009 at 01:51 AM ·

Paul -

From a cello-playing violist:  If you are serious about a musical career and want a second instrument, go with either viola or piano.  Either of these two instruments will help you in music school, even if you only "dabble" on occasion.  Being able to play both violin and viola will make you more flexible in orchestra and chamber settings. 

When I was living in Malaysia, I picked up a cheap cello (about $200 USD) since I had alot of time on my hands on the weekends and wanted to try something new.  I took lessons on it for about a year, and haven't really played it much since then.  However, it did strengthen my 4th finger, helped with my vibrato, got me over my fear of higher positions, and I learned to read bass clef. 

January 1, 2009 at 02:47 AM ·

Hi Mendy,

As I mentioned earlier, I won't be adding a new instrument anytime soon or at least till financial situations clear up...

But thank you for your input and it is appreciated.

January 1, 2009 at 06:59 AM ·

The problem with pianos are that they are a pain to hold under your chin....however, if you can find a long enough bow you might could get a double stop or two?

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