Feeling a bit lost? Many kids are getting their introduction to band or orchestra class this time of the year, and helping your child select an instrument can be a lengthy process. Violin is a common instrument for younger students to start out on, but you’ll also likely hear about the viola. So, what exactly is the difference? Here’s a quick overview…
Simply put, the violin is the smallest and thinnest of the two, and creates a higher sound. The viola, on the other hand, is larger and produces a lower, richer tone.
Other differences include:
- Sizing: Violin sizes are listed like 4/4 or 3/4, whereas violas are measured in inches (13″, 14″, etc.).
- Tuning: The strings on a violin are, in order from largest to smallest, G D A and E. On a viola, the strings are C G D and A. Keep this in mind as you’re tuning your instrument.
– Range: Because of the size differences, the viola can hit much lower notes than the violin.
- Technique: There are slight differences here. For example, with the viola, your right hand is placed a bit lower on the frog, and more pressure is used with the bow. Viola bows are also a bit shorter and heavier than violin bows.
- Music: Viola music can be in either alto or treble clef; Violin solely uses treble clef.
That being said, which instrument is best for kids to start out on? Ultimately, this will come down to your child’s preferences. As with any instrument, try out several and see how each one feels. You’ll notice if one or the other feels right to you!
Readers, which do you think is better: the violin or the viola? Have you had success switching between the two? Leave a comment below, or stop by our Facebook page to join the community!
Photo by How I See Life.