Learning Viola + Violin at the Same Time: Bad Idea?
Pretty sure I know the answer to this but is it a bad idea to try to learn viola and violin at the same time?
I already have a violin that I'm learning how to play and loving, but the grass is always greener on the other side and I've been listening to and watching a lot of videos of viola performances that make me want to play viola too.
The only thing stopping me is the fear that it will negatively affect my ability to learn violin, and I'm not ready to make a full switch to viola.
Its the old jack of all trades problem. I can either put all my time and effort into one instrument and eventually be good at it, or I can divide my resources and be mediocre at multiple instruments.
Maybe I'm way off base. What do you fine people think? Would trying to learn viola while also learning violin cause more trouble than it's worth?
First, I am going to say that as long as you're willing to put in the effort, you can learn two (or more if you can put in the dedication) totally different instruments and be decent of both of them.
I find I can switch easily because I have developed two sets of reflexes, in
If there are rentals in your area, how about renting a viola for a month, give it a try and see how you feel about it?
A couple of questions come to my mind:
In short, I'd recommend against it. If you are an average beginner student, you will not have success in learning both initially. Even if you were above average, it wouldn't be ideal.
I definitely agree with Erik that because the violin and viola are so similar with subtle differences, I don't recommend that a beginner learn both at the same time, but if you are more experienced, it is totally okay.
Viola and violin are exactly the same. There's no switch; you're just doing a drop C tuning.
Cotton, I absolutely hate so much to disagree with you, but the viola is more than just a large, low-pitched violin. Because of its lower pitch, the viola has an entirely different repertoire and a different role in ensembles, which is pretty obvious given its pitch range. You cannot play the viola exactly like you play the violin. Sure, the technique is largely the same, but the larger size and thicker strings result in subtle but important differences in technique. If a violinist played the viola exactly like a violin, the sound would not be nice to listen to because it would be relatively weak and the notes may be out of tune. Furthermore, the larger size makes the viola more awkward so posture and position are that much more important.
I guess I'd need two different teachers if I bought a second violin, then, because the exact same technique on two different instruments of the same kind would also not necessarily sound nice.
Ella, there are different opinions on this issue. Scott Slapin, who is not exactly a loser on the viola, has emphasized in an interview with Laurie here on v.com that, for him, viola technique and violin technique are identical.
Actually, cotton, a beginner switching back and forth daily between two very different violins would indeed be detrimental, as I've seen happen many times.
One thing to watch out for is picking up the wrong bow by mistake!
I'm with Ella here. Finger spacing is the easy part, at least for experienced string players.
Jean - as someone who plays both, I disagree with Scott and Cotton that they are essentially the same instrument in terms of technique. As Ella and others have pointed out here and elsewhere, while there is much in common, there are a number of subtle but important differences. The easiest to master is finger spacing. Others are trickier. So, I would think that learning both at the same time for someone who has not already mastered one or the other would be a mistake.
I played both for a long time. I would recommend that the student do violin until they have learned the high positions and are fully grown. Trying to squeeze a good sound out of a small Viola, less than 15 1/2, can be very frustrating. The 14" Viola can be the transition instrument, only for learning the clef. The bowing feels different. Violin bowing for me is a delicate balancing act, while Viola is like pushing a recalcitrant donkey, you never hit bottom. Left hand technique is modified a little from Violin. I avoid stretches and extensions, shift more often, use the in-between even and half-positions more often. With a good, responsive Viola, which I have never owned ($), the third position can become the more comfortable, default home base. If a player enjoys orchestra and chamber music more than solo playing, Viola can be a good choice.
Unless he's no longer here Drew Lecher would be someone worth consulting. I've been away from V.Com for quite a few years and lost touch with Drew. I would love to hear his opinion. Royce
To Joel: The OP is an adult beginner as far as I can tell from his previous threads, so playing a 15.5"+ viola is most likely not a problem.