Viola

Age Group: 9 Years - Adult

The viola is from the same family as the violin and often players decide to move over to viola after learning violin.  The technique is largely the same but the notation uses the alto clef instead of the treble clef which can take a bit of getting used to.  The viola has a deep rich sound as it can play a 5th lower than the violin and is often comparable in sound to the cellos.  So you could see the viola as a more portable option than a cello if you enjoy that mellow cello sound but don't want to lug a huge case around.  Similar to the violin take a look at what else the viola can do for you as well as the obvious musical fulfillment:

PHYSICAL BENEFITS

Increased arm strength: You may find yourself tiring quickly after playing the viola when you first start out. This is completely normal. As your arm muscles and upper body become stronger, this problem soon dissipates. The result? Stronger arms without making a single trip to the gym. 

Improved finger dexterity: As you learn more difficult songs on the viola, you’ll feel the fingers on your left hand strain to reach certain strings. The fingers on your right hand must learn to control the bow, which takes precision as well. Over time, the strain disappears as your fingers become more flexible. This makes it possible to play exciting new techniques later down the road.

Improved posture: Another one of the benefits of playing viola is that it requires you to sit up straight and tall. Before you know it, you’ll find your back and shoulders becoming stronger and able to support your upper body with better posture.

Better coordination and motor skills: When you’re playing the viola, you need to coordinate both your fingers and your arms simultaneously. Pressing a string with your left hand must match up with the movement of the bow in your right in order to play correctly. In this way, learning the violin increases your coordination.

MENTAL BENEFITS

Improved concentration: It takes effort to learn how to read viola music and translate the notes on a piece of paper into beautiful sounds. You must remain focused while practicing the violin to benefit from it, so playing the instrument inherently improves your concentration and attention span.

Sharpened memory: Your muscle memory will improve as you become more proficient at playing viola. It also gives you the opportunity to memorize songs and play without sheet music, which sharpens your memory even more.

Lower stress levels: On a stressful day, playing the viola is a healthy way to let off some steam. The sound of the music itself can be calming, and playing a song you know well can provide relaxation through the familiarity of the piece. After practicing, you may feel as though you just finished an effective therapy session!

Boosted academic skills: According to a study review presented by the Willson Center for Humanities and Arts, school-age children who play a string instrument often see a boost in academic achievement compared to their non-musical peers. Various studies cited in the review explain that there’s a commonality of skills associated with playing the violin and excelling in school. These skills include focused attention, critical thinking, problem solving, and familiarity with teacher-student mentorship.

SOCIAL BENEFITS

Greater confidence: Playing in front of a group of people at a concert or recital is nerve-wracking. However, putting yourself out there and trying something outside your comfort zone can give you better self-confidence in other areas of your life, such as giving speeches in class.

Stronger collaboration skills: This is another one of the benefits of playing viola if you’re an orchestra member. Since each person needs to plays their individual parts just right, you learn to hold up your end by practicing and mastering even the trickiest spots in the song.

Greater sense of community: Playing the viola automatically gives you something to talk about with others who also play the instrument or are simply musically inclined. You’ll feel part of something important, which can bring great fulfillment to your life.

Increased feelings of accomplishment: When you dedicate yourself to learning the viola, it can feel like an awesome accomplishment. You may realize you can do difficult things and achieve the goals you set for yourself. It’s OK to feel proud for doing well at a performance or triumphing over a particularly difficult piece. In fact, it’s this feeling of accomplishment that may help you stick with it!