Written by Krista Moyer
Published: October 5, 2015 at 7:12 PM [UTC]
First off, I’m a violinist. Sure I can play the pieces in SB1, but I don’t read alto clef. So every practice session starts off with me asking what note the piece starts on. It necessitates that I play it in the viola key-which is often not the one I learned it in. Furthermore, I’m not really going through Suzuki the same way a kid does, even though we have the same teacher. As a result, I never memorized anything until the Vivaldi (except Two Grenadiers – which is another story) so half the time I’m trying to play it from the violin book while transposing it in my head. And lastly, not having a C string is a barrier.
More and more I’m feeling, maybe not a true need, but a desire to do viola things with a viola. It would just make everything easier. With that thought in my mind, my son and I trotted down to our local string shop and blithely asked to try some violas. Knowing that I play on a fractional violin, they first let me try a 15 inch viola. I can play it, but it’s a struggle and my arm is nearly straight. After a bit of measuring, they felt I should probably play 13 inch, but if I was careful with tension, a 14 inch would work.
Once again my stupid T-rex arms prevent me from playing a size that sounds real. They had no rental 14 inch instruments in stock because of the recent flurry of rentals by returning students; and the for-sale beginner instrument was not one I liked the sound of. The owner offered to contact their distributor to see if he had anything suitable in an intermediate range. I will try what shows up and see how I feel about it. If it’s just a violin strung up as a viola, I could just do that with one of my spares. That cheap campfire fiddle would do if I moved all the strings down one and added a C string.
Part of me thinks I am being silly wanting a real viola. Plenty of people do the violin-strung-as-a-viola thing. But I think that it’s bad enough to have to play a tiny instrument without having to compromise on whether I can have one at all. And why aren’t there any 14 inch viola cases? Do I really have to have the boring, black, kiddie rental case? Also, if it’s the same size as a full size violin, why do I have to buy a viola bow? Won’t my violin bow work? It’s enough to make a person crazy. This should be easier.
We ended up leaving with a pricey new permanbuco bow for the boy, and nothing for me. Part of me wishes I had bought the bow for myself, but he simply can’t keep using that cheapo Glasser thing that came with his rental. If I have to buy a viola bow, it won’t be nearly as nice as his, and definitely not anywhere near my violin bow. But hey, viola is his thing. It’s hard to get teenagers interested in anything academic. If he’s into it, then I’ll support that, even if it means I have to swim in the kiddie pool.
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