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What Exactly Is A Viola?

The viola is a member of the Stringed instruments family. If you take a first look at it, you may think it  is a violin. But, actually, the viola is bigger than the violin, its strings are longer, and its rich, warm sound is lower in pitch than the violin's.

The body of the viola is made of wood. It is the shape of the body that gives the viola its special tone and sound. Because the viola doesn't play as high as the violin, it sounds darker, but richer as well.

Because the viola is bigger than the violin, it is also heavier, and its shape is slightly different. But, just like the violin, it is played on the musician's left arm.

How Do You Play It?

See the woman on the picture, with the viola? (It's me!) You rest the instrument on your left shoulder, holding it with your left hand. And you hold the bow with your right hand.

Where can I find someone who plays the viola?

You can find viola players -- called violists -- in various ensembles:

bulletIn a string quartet: you have 2 violinists, 1 violist and 1 cellist
bulletIn a string orchestra
bulletIn a chamber orchestra, which is a small orchestra (under 40 players)
bulletIn a symphony orchestra -- this is a big orchestra! Usually, they sit at the conductor's right, either in front of the stage or "behind" the cello players.

If you take a look at all the members of the orchestra, observe the difference in sizes. Those with those big violins are the violists!

Who Can Play the Viola?

Anyone! Of course, it requires a lot of practice, and formal lessons. Don't be afraid to ask a teacher or even a professional violist for assistance. They will be delighted to help you.