I have been playing violins for over 3 years now. I am at Suzuki vol 4, whilst learning other individual pieces out of interest.
Due to my greed, I ended up getting a $2800 violin(it's a big sum for a full time student in a non-music degree). I believe that it will be a violin that I will hold onto at least for the rest of my life.
Now, the problem is that this is too precious, I have trouble carrying it anywhere other than in my hands indoors to play it. For that reason, this winter, I barely got any practice done. Nearing the end of the winter, I found a cheap 16" viola in local ad and bought it last night. I had the most fun for the year yet playing/cleaning it.
Here's what I've noticed:
1. I need to stretch my fingers to get the right notes. This is helping me to gain better flexibility in my left hand.
2. It gives me a heck of a hard time staying in tune, because the spacings are all different, it's making me to do a tremendous amount of shifts and ear training.
3. I'm ATTACKING the viola with my heaviest violin bow. This is giving me heck a lot of confidence in bowing my violin. It also came with a viola bow, but I like using my Yitamusic heavy snakewood violin bow.
4. It's no violin, it's a different animal. Responsiveness is much slower than my Socia(violin).
5. The harmonics seem extremely easier.
6. C string is addictive to play with.
For some reason, while I bought this viola for $180, it sounds and feel like something worth a lot more. Other than A string not being tamed(I shall see my luthier about moving the soundpost), and I'm having a lot of fun.
The viola overall seems to give me a LOT of practice in playing my violin, after I played the viola for 30 minutes, I got back to my violin, and shifts, vibrato were extremely easy, and somehow intonation was excellent(because I'm adjusting back to the violin spacing). Also, the tone quality was GREAT because I was bowing a lot more confidently.
I will likely give the viola a name, and a new soundpost, and a case slowly over the year, because I'm apparently not doing a good job saving up for a new violin bow.
I should also mention that I have had 2 surgeries in my left shoulder, so, violin is already a stretch to play the violin. Viola, I have to support my left elbow on my knee while playing. I did this when I first started playing violins, eventually I can play standing up. Hopefully my range of motion improves with viola.
Do others also use the viola as a "training aid" or "secondary violin"?
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