Viola Resources

Viola Literature

What's the difference between the violin and the viola?

Violins come in "fractional sizes" (4/4, 3/4, 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, 1/16, even a tiny 1/32). The 4/4 is full size, suitable for nearly all adults. The 7/8 size is rather rare, and only available in the more expensive instruments. It is frequently used by adults who are very petite. [Please see: K500 Student Outfit available in 7/8]

Violas: While violins come in fractional sizes, violas are measured in inches (17", 16 1/2", 16", 15", 14", 13", 12"). For students changing from violin to viola, or adding viola after studying violin, the 14" viola is approximately the same size as a full size violin. Many violists start on violin. [Please see our Peccard Viola Outfit]

The 16" is the usual adult size. Any size above the 16" may be difficult to handle for young people and is probably not recommended. Viola length is measured in centimeters in Europe (41cm, 41.5cm and 42cm), and there is no exact standard with respect to size. Many professional violists play a 17" viola; Michael Tree (of the Guarneri Quartet), Bruno Giuranna, Gerard Coussè.

The viola is a fifth lower in pitch than the violin; the lowest string on the viola is the C string. The viola's second string, the G, is the violin's lowest string. Violas have no E string, the top string on violin. The A=440 (the violin's second string), is the top string on viola. The viola is primarily written in the alto clef (though high registers may be written in treble, like the violin). See:

Viola strings (and range)

The violin and viola étude repertoire is much the same, with additional works in viola by Fuchs, Campagnoli and others. Some of the literature for violin has been transcribed for viola (and visa versa), but viola literature is quite different. See: Advanced Viola Literature

Note that the viola is "not just a big violin." Violists will have you assassinated if you even think that. Playing the viola requires a very different touch, different fingerings, different position work, different vibrato, and an entirely different mindset with respect to its role in the orchestral and chamber music repertoire. Violists are very sensitive about this.
Viola top

Suzuki Viola books and CDs

Barbara Barber Books and CDs

Viola Literature (études)

Advanced Chamber Literature

Viola Concertos

Free Viola Music

Advanced Viola Literature

20th Century Works for Viola New!

Fiddling for Viola New!

Slapin-Solomon Viola Duo Forum New!

Viola List

American Viola Society

International Viola Society

Violin/Viola, Viola/Viola, Viola/Cello

Trios with Viola

• Barnes, Gregory (ed): Playing and Teaching the Viola (published by ASTA)
• Barrett, Henry: The Viola: Complete Guide for Teachers & Students
• Coletta, Harold: Dangerous Harmonies: The Memoir of Harold Coletta
• Curtis, Liane (ed): A Rebecca Clarke Reader
• Dalton, David: Playing the Viola
• Forbes, Watson: Strings to my Bow, A Memoir
• Giorgetti, Ferdinando, Franco Sciannameo An Historical Introduction
• Heimberg, Tom: Making a Musical Life
• Hoffheimer, Michael: Fiddling for Viola
• Madden, Maxine: Sounds on Strings: Getting to Know Your Viola
• Maurice, Donald: Bartók's Viola Concerto: The Remarkable Story of His Swansong
• Menuhin, Yehudi and William Primrose: Violin & Viola
• Primrose, William: Technique is Memory. A method for violin and viola players based on finger patterns, etc.
• Primrose, William: Walk on the North Side, Memoirs of a Violist
• Riley, Maurice: History of the Viola
• Stowell, Robin: The Early Violin and Viola : A Practical Guide
• Tertis, Lionel: My viola and I: A complete autobiography
• Weaver, Michael Alan: Works for the Viola by Pulitzer Prize Winning Composers
• White, John (ed): An Anthology of British Viola Players
• White, John: Lionel Tertis: The First Great Virtuoso of the Viola
• Williams, Amedee Daryl: Lillian Fuchs: First Lady of the Viola
• Zaslav, Bernard: The Viola in My Life: An Alto Rhapsody
• Zeyringer, Franz: Literatur Für Viola

ABRSM: Violin Specimen Sight Reading Tests 1-5, Tests 6-8

Anthony, Robert: 300 Progressive Sight Reading Exercises for Viola Large Print Version Vol. 1, Vol. 2

Blackwell, Kathy and David: Viola Time Scales: Pieces, Puzzles, Scales, and Arpeggios

Harris, Paul: Improve Your Sight-reading! Viola, Grade 1-5: A Workbook for Examinations

Kember, John: Viola Sight-Reading Vol. 1, Vol. 2

Schreck, Suzanne: Sight Reading Skills for Suzuki ViolaStudents Vol. 1

Learning Treble Clef:
• Harvey, Cassia: Treble Clef for the Viola
• Cohen, Mary: Quick Change! for Viola: Clef Switching for Viola Made Easy
• Stuen-Walker, Elizabeth: Treble Clef for Violists

• Julia Adams: Scales for the Intermediate Violist

Barbara Barber Viola Scale Books:
Scales for Young Violists
Scales for Advanced Violists

• Kathy Blackwell: Viola Time Scales: Pieces, Puzzles, Scales, and Arpeggios
• George Bornoff: Finger Patterns for Viola
• Susan Brown: Two Octave Scales And Bowings For The Viola
• Castleman/Koob: Tonal Applications of Finger Patterns
• Mary Cohen: Scaley Monsters
• Carl Flesch: Scale Studies – viola
• Samuel Flor: I Like to Play Scales for the Viola
• Ivan Galamian: The Galamian Scale System For Viola (Volume 1)
• Rudolf Haken: Scales and Arpeggios
• Dr. Michael Kimber: Scales, Arpeggios, and Double Stops for the Violist
• Leonard Mogill: Mogill Scale Studies - viola
• William Primrose: The Art and Practice of Scale Playing on the Viola
• Ellen Rose: Extreme Viola. Printed to order. Contact
• Henry Schradieck: School Of Viola Technics - Bk. 1, Bk. 2, Bk. 3
• William H. Somach: Accidentals Happen! - First Position, Two Octaves, Three Octaves
• Stephanie Tretick: Vademecum Scales for Viola

Accidentals Happen! Scale Books by William H. Somach
Major & Minor, Modes, Dominant 7th, Pentatonic & Ethnic, Diminished & Augmented, Whole Tone, Jazz & Blues, Chromatic

• Barrett, Henry: Viola: Complete Guide for Teachers and Students
• Bruni, Antonio: 25 Studies
• Cohen, Mary: Quick Change! for Viola: Clef Switching for Viola Made Easy
• Iotti, Oscar: Practical Method (trans. Laoureux)
• Langey, Otto: Celebrated Tutor
• Laubach, Alfred: Practical Viola School
• Pinksterboer, Hugo: Tipbook - Violin and Viola
• Pounds, Dwight: Viola for Violinists: The Conversion Kit
• Simon, : From Violin to Viola
• Spaulding, Florence: Right Hand Culture for Violin, Viola, and Cello Players
• Stuen-Walker, Elizabeth: Treble Clef for Violists
• Tours, Berthold: The Viola
• Volmer, Berta: Bratschenschule
• Whistler, Harvey: From Violin to Viola: A Transitional Method

  • Age: Large Adult 16"-17"
  • Age: Average Adult 15.5"
  • Age: 10-12, Small Adult 15"
  • Age: 9-12 14"
  • Age: 7-9 13"
  • Age: 6-7 12"

  • Viola Fingerboard Chart (pdf)
    Violin Fingerboard Chart

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