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  • Writer's picturePrism School Of Music

Do you play the Violin or the Viola?

Violin is one of the most played instruments in today’s age. Many children aim to learn violin from a young age to pursue it as their career later on. The violin was invented in Italy in the sixteenth century, and it underwent further changes in the 18th and 19th centuries to improve its tone and projection. It laid the groundwork for the creation of other stringed instruments utilised in Western classical music in Europe, like the viola.

Now, what is a viola? Both the violin and the viola have a similar appearance, are string instruments, and are played with bows held under the chin. Having said that, there are a few significant distinctions between the violin and viola that give each an individual sound.

Key Differences

  1. Size: The viola and violin are significantly different in size. Violins are smaller than violas. The body of the violin is typically 35 centimetres (14 inches) long. Contrarily, a viola's length can reach 45 centimetres (18 inches). The viola is comparatively bigger. The violin is available in nine sizes, while the viola is available in four. The tiniest viola is only 30 centimetres (12 inches) in length, which is considerably shorter than a full-sized violin. Children and beginners are best suited to playing these little violas and Prism School Of Music can teach them how to master violas.

  2. Strings: Even though electronic violins and violas occasionally have six strings, both the violin and viola only have four strings, yet each string's tones are different.

  • G, D, A, and E make up the violin's strings. G is the lowest while E is the highest.

  • C, G, D, and A are the viola's four strings. The order is A highest to C lowest.

A fifth lower than the violin is how the viola is tuned. Many players are drawn to the viola because of its lower range. A stronger hand, a quicker bow tempo, and a heavier bow are all necessary for the thicker strings.

Which is Easier to Play: Violin or Viola?

No instrument is “difficult to learn”, it all depends on the amount of practice a person puts in. And depending on your abilities and what you could find simple, it can either be Violin or Viola.

The viola and violin both employ the same approach, with a few minor variations. Although they are both string instruments, the violin and viola have a similar mindset. A violinist will find it simple to play the viola, but just like with another instrument, mastering it takes dedication and a lot of practice.

One of the reasons why violinists frequently attempt to work as violists is that the viola parts in ensembles are typically simpler than the violin parts, which have the most solos or get to play the melody line. The viola, however, is just as challenging to learn as any other instrument.

What Should You Choose: Violin or Viola?

Most violists, when asked why they selected their instrument, will either say that they loved the violin but preferred the viola's richer sound, OR that they were drawn to the cello but couldn't bear the thought of carrying it around all the time.

Most violists are drawn to the lower, more resonant sound profile in both situations. The viola might be the ideal string instrument for you if you enjoy lower, richer, and more resonant tones yet aren't drawn to play cello or bass.

It is very OK for young children to begin playing the violin with viola strings. It will work, but make sure that they buy a good instrument with a well-done setup and bridge. The sound, though, is the issue here. The tone and sound you enjoy from the viola are not produced by short, thick strings playing low on a tiny body. For a few years, playing the violin might be the best option for you but your hand and arm sizes may limit the size of instrument you can play. But shifting from a violin to a viola will not be tough and children can opt for it as they grow later on in life.

At Prism School of Music, you can book a demo class and see if violin or viola fits you. You can pursue this instrument as your career if you start early with us!

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