A few months ago, my mom gave me her beloved viola. At 95, her poor vision, hearing and arthritis pain have all robbed her of the joy she used to get from playing.
She was actually excited that I showed an interest in playing, and said: 'You can have my viola (a hand-made Sean Peak model), but you have to learn to play it properly!'
So today I had my first lesson with a young professional musician. She showed me how to tighten the bow, hold it properly, install the shoulder rest and tune the viola. We didn't even use the left hand the whole lesson - all the exercises were for the right hand. She said I should work on the right-hand exercises daily for 2 or 3 weeks, and then check back with her for the next step.
The lesson left me pretty motivated to play.
I've read wonderful things about Sean Peak Violas!
What size is yours?
I have been playing a 16" Glasser carbon composite 5-string viola this year, so I can only imagine the wonderful sound you will eventually get playing your Mother's viola!
I hope your Mother provides you with plenty of motivation on your new journey.
Have fun & show us a photo when you have a chance!
Thanks for the warm welcome.
The viola is a 15 1/2" Sean Peak copy of Matteo Gorfriller, purchased in 2013. I have no idea what that means. I like that it stays in perfect tune for long periods. The teacher was really surprised when she checked the tuning, and she didn't need to adjust anything.
My mom was originally studying chello, and was on her way to the store to buy her own chello when they played Schubert's Sonate in A Minor 'Per Arpeggione' arranged for viola and piano on the car radio.
She was so struck by the beauty of the viola that she instantly decided to purchase a viola instead of a chello. After a few years she returned the beginner's model and purchased the Sean Peak viola. She played in community orchestras for years and enjoyed it tremendously. She also spent many summers at classical music camps up near the Great Lakes, which she also enjoyed.
I come to viola from guitar, and am shocked by the price of viola strings. A decent set of guitar strings costs about $12, while viola strings seem to run from $50 to $130 a set. That seems a bit ridiculous, but what do I know ....
Oh, and my mom warned me that there are a lot of bad viola jokes.
I've now been doing my right hand exercises almost daily for two weeks now, and the bow seems much easier to hold. I've also been playing the open strings slowly for 6, 4 and 3 beats with a metronome at 60 BPM, trying to make the transitions between bows smooth and even sounding.
During the first lesson, the teacher played my viola a little bit (it sounded good!), and said that it had nice 'overtones'. What are overtones?
This week I was shocked when I opened the case and saw that several hairs had snapped on one of my bows. The teacher told me 'that happens', and it isn't a big deal since there are still enough hairs on the bow to play.
I have the 2nd lesson later this week - I wonder when I will start playing notes with my left hand?
@New2Viola Sounds like you're progressing well!
Overtones are additional (higher) frequencies that occur when a note is played. I’m sure someone else has a better definition.
Not unusual for a few strands to break on the bow. It's not good to just yank them out because you can loosen the mounting. Should clip it close to the tip/frog with sharp knife/scissors (I use a nail clipper).
I keep my violin & bow out (on violin/bow stand), but there are reasons to not do this. A couple of articles about caring/storing the bow:
Characterize people by their actions and you will never be fooled by their words.
Thank you for the links on how to care for and properly maintain the viola bow. I love musical instruments, and want to care for my equipment properly.
I discovered a violin maker just 10 minutes away from my apartment. I'm thinking of stopping by with my viola and bows, and getting their feedback with regard to general maintenance issues like string changes and rehairing the bows.
@New2Viola - Congrats on the progress. Great to hear. Also, welcome to the forum!
Thanks for the welcome.
I did stop by a violin maker to have them take a look at my viola and bows in order to see what kind of shape they are in.
The viola is in fine shape, but the two bows need to be rehaired.
Unfortunately, the better bow, a 'Special Edition Viola bow stamped C Chagas - silver mounted on ebony frog' (https://dolceviolins.net/produ.....viola-bow/) can't be rehaired until a crack in the tip plate is repaired. The crack is so fine I can barely even see it with my reading glasses on.
The shop told me replacing the bone tip plate would cost EUR 250 and the rehairing costs EUR 95.
To get a second opinion, I went to a second shop and was told replacing the plastic tip plate would cost EUR 150 and the rehairing costs EUR 95.
I don't know whether the tip is plastic or bone, so I'm unsure what to do at this point. Any suggestions?
My second lesson is tomorrow. I'm very curious what the next step will be on the journey to learn viola after several weeks of right-hand only exercises.