Viola teacher teaching violin

November 23, 2017, 12:08 AM · Is it a good idea for a viola teacher to teach violin too? A week ago went to a student concert of a teacher, who plays both violin and viola and got very mied fleelings. The viola players looked quite ok and some really good, but the violin players were no good at all, the posture was horrible to my eyes and left hand very rigid the left elbow barely moving.

Now Im wondering if the kids played violin only to be moved to viola soon or had he just got the least gifted kids or what had happened. Thought that maybe someone could enlighten me on the matter. Remembered all the jokes about viola players too and wondered if there really is something into them lol

Replies (10)

Edited: November 23, 2017, 12:14 AM · That would be a double standard for the ages, since many violin teachers teach viola too.

Wouldn't the left elbow move more playing viola than on violin, on account of there being a greater distance to traverse? That shouldn't be an issue with the teacher's ability to teach someone to move their arm.

I feel that the technique is similar enough that if it's as bad as you say there is likely something more at work than the teacher.

Violinists just make viola jokes because viola is harder - it's larger, heavier, the strings are thicker, and the distances are longer. Now excuse me while I go put on some fire retardant clothing!

November 23, 2017, 12:31 AM · I do believe viola is harder, somehow its just not that popular here, there are so many good violinists but not so many good violist which is a natural result of it not being so popular, nothing to do with the instrument.

Yes, maybe there was something wrong with the viola players too, I wouldnt know, some were good but maybe they had the passion for spesificly viola and that explains.

November 23, 2017, 5:45 AM · Many violists started as violinists themselves. Something else must be going on. Perhaps the violin students were playing more technically difficult material? Perhaps the better students were coincidentally all violists?
November 23, 2017, 6:34 AM · If it was 3 violists playing well and 3 violinists playing poorly then maybe it was just a coincidence. If it was 30 violists playing well and 30 violinists all playing poorly then something is going on.
November 23, 2017, 6:42 AM · I'm primarily a violists who also teaches violin. At the beginning stages, violin and viola technique is essentially the same and I more or less teach the same posture and sequence of technical skills regardless of instrument. If a student is committed and advanced on violin, I will at some point send them on to a violinist (around the Mozart G-major/Kavalevsky Concerto level) simply because I never studied a lot of the more advanced repertoire as I majored in viola performance.

How many students played on the recital? I know that at any given recital I will have a range of students with varying technique/posture issues that are being addressed and may not be mastered by the time of the recital. I don't screen my students so I have a range from serious, committed students, to students who rarely practice and/or continually ignore the corrections I make. I also have many students who come in after years of playing only in school orchestra and they can have a wide range of posture and technique habits that can be very difficult to change. If you took a random, small sample of my students you could come to very different conclusions about my teaching depending on who you listened to.

It is certainly possible that this particular teacher somehow has lower standards for violinists than violists, but I wouldn't jump to the conclusion that violists shouldn't teach violin. Most of us teach to the same standard on either instrument, and we'd never make a living if we didn't also teach violin.

Edited: November 23, 2017, 7:19 AM · Ingrid has a good point -- the repertoire. If a person either started on viola or switched to it very early, they have neither studied the violin repertoire nor the correct progression of it.

So the answer is -- it depends on the particular teacher.

November 23, 2017, 10:08 AM · My first violin teacher was an expert violist (ex-met. opera). My only regret was that we started the Bach unacomp. sonatas too soon and did not seriously work on those ultra-high notes at the top of the E-string.
Edited: November 23, 2017, 4:28 PM · Like Ingrid I am a violist who plays and teaches violin too.
The viola is harder, with regard to handling and tone production.
Practicing the viola gives me a strong and very well organised left hand.
Practicing the violin gives me more refined bowing.
Although the techniques have the same elements, I feel the two instruments as very different.
I have not studied the very advanced repertore for violin.
Perhaps all this answers some of your questions..
Edited: November 24, 2017, 7:08 PM · I consider violin and viola to be two closely tied but different instruments. In some ways, viola is harder than violin (e.g dealing with a larger instrument, especially if you're smallish; getting a big sound is more work on viola). Alto clef is not more difficult to read than any other clef, and the larger spacing is not necessarily harder to deal with, especially if you're a largish-handed person. Plus, both instruments require pretty much the exact same amount of concentration in order to play well. (Viola may need a bit more concentration in terms of bow angle and placement precision, and tension, posture and position issues can be more problematic on viola because of the larger size, and thus, more precision is necessary in these areas. I'm not saying you should play violin with unnecessary tension and incorrect posture and position, however).
November 25, 2017, 3:27 AM · Thank you everyone :) It was a small sample of students,about 15 in total so maybe just a coincidence then.

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