Viola Affects Violin?
I am a Violinist that's been playing for three years. In those past three years, I have been pretty okay with intonation. I picked up the Viola about eleven months ago. For about nine months, my viola was the same size as my violin, so transitioning from violin to viola wasn't difficult as all. But recently (about two months ago), I exchanged that viola to a bigger one (Fifteen inch Viola; My violin is a Thirteen inch).
Ever since then, switching from violin to viola has been hard, and it feels like my intonation hasn't been as accurate as before.
If I play the violin, I tend to play flat. When I play viola, I'm either too flat or too sharp. I've been so frustrated and I don't know what to do! It seems like my intonation is getting a little bit better; just a little. But I feel like it's not coming out the way it was before I switched to a bigger sized viola.
Has anybody else struggled with this problem? If so, how can I overcome it?
Thank you for reading.
Switching back and forth should not be a problem, unless there are some impediments.
2" is a bigger jump up then most people make at one time. Was there a reason you went to a 15" viola rather than a 14"?
I play 14 inch violin and 16 inch viola so I assume your 13 inch violin and 15 inch viola have comparable relationships to each other.
On the viola the forearm slants more and we may be tempted to bend the wrist to compensate, which does not help the hand to open more. More elbow swing can help to play strongly (and in tune) on the lower strings
Adrian said something that made me think of something else. A lot of violinists put their left thumb across from 1st finger. Some violists prefer the thumb to be flexible where it is but mainly hang out between the first and second finger. This makes it easier to make the reaches on viola.
Viola will help your violin playing. Like warming up in the on-deck circle with a lead donut on your bat.
Remember intonation isn't really in your left hand, it's in your brain. Whether you're playing violin or viola, when you play you are constantly making adjustments to be in tune -- and that starts with your ears and is governed by your brain. That's why slow precise practice with very good concentration works -- you're literally training your brain how to hear, and once you know exactly what you want to hear, your fingers will figure out how to give it to you.
How long does it take you to "adjust" when switching between the two?
Hmm. Intonation in fast passages is in the hands of the hands..
It takes me 5 or 10 minutes to adjust my intonation when switching between violin and viola. After that I've adjusted to the longer stretches on the viola, or the lighter weight on the violin. After playing viola for a while, a violin seems so tiny and light that I feel I can do anything with little effort.
Good advice above. I'm one of these people who has pretty much no trouble switching between the two. For me, I seem to somehow memorize the spacing difference, so I could switch in the same session and not run into trouble. Of course, this isn't everybody. Since violinists also have to constantly adjust to different spacings "on the fly" because of the closer spacings up high, I think that being able to adjust "on the fly" is going to help switching back and forth a lot.
I can not recall the source... but this is what I use to "re-calibrate" my hand from violin to viola and back:
Ella, have you noticed you're able to seamlessly change even when going from a very difficult violin piece to a very difficult viola piece immediately afterwards?
I certainly believe less experienced players need more buffer time than more experienced players. I don't think I've tried to switch back and forth with very difficult pieces in a while, but even if I did need buffer time, I think it was only 1-2 minutes at most. I think I'm just weird. I know I'm not like most people.
Perhaps relative familiarity matters too? I switch seamlessly from violin to viola with no buffer time at all, but it takes half an hour or more to switch from viola to violin.
I try to fit in five minutes of the "other" instrument at the end of session: not enough to disturb what I have practiced, but a kind of "reminder".
I play both and always start my session on either one with scales. I do scales that use the same fingering on the same positioned string on each (e.g., on the violin I will do A major and on the viola I will do D major). Eventually, you get fairly used to the differences. The worst problems long-term are the clef issues, particularly what one v.com poster labeled "violin moments," where you suddenly look at the music and forget you are playing viola and are in alto clef.
Actually I find that the right hand is harder to adjust when switching than the left. Maybe it's just my instruments but my viola is a LOT less responsive than my violin. Sound point is way different too.
Paul, I've noticed that too, except I've gotten pretty used to it now. Sometimes, when I go from violin to viola (but no the other way around), I feel like I have to work so hard, yet in a lot of cases it's due to a lack of rosin. If I make sure there's enough rosin on my viola bow when I switch directly from violin, I'm okay.
I have played both violin and viola most of my life. I preferred a big viola (it was a fat 16 " ),because I wanted it to feel like a different instrument, not just a slightly bigger violin with a different clef. Third position on viola feels like the same spacing as 1st position violin. Avoid stretches or extensions on viola, it's already hard enough. Use 2nd, 1/2, and all those in between positions more often. I have done a couple of orchestra auditions on both violin and viola, the same day, and chose to do violin first, then viola, because of the different feel of the bowing.
This is from Simon Fischer's
"a dedicated profession called 1st position violinist and another called 5th position violinist"
In a sense, the first violins of good orchestras are high note specialists; they win and keep their jobs, spend a large portion of their playing time, on the second half of the E string, where the notes are about 5 mm apart, and the margin of error for intonation is an almost impossible 1 mm. Players with narrow finger-tips have an advantage.
This discussion has been archived and is no longer accepting responses.