If the viola is the butt of jokes in the orchestra, in the bluegrass and old-time fiddling world it’s a non-entity!
Although the viola has three strings in common with the violin and is played in almost exactly the same way, it seems to have never occurred to most bluegrass and old-timers that a fiddle tune could be played on the viola.
So it should come as no surprise that there are very few resources out there for violists who want to learn how to play standard fiddle tunes on their instrument. There are almost no fiddle method or tune-books for violists. Most fiddle workshops won’t accept viola students. And instructors who teach fiddling on the viola are rare as hen’s teeth.
Let me say this unequivocally: I love the viola. I love its dark chocolate-y tone. I love being able to draw those crunchy, driving rhythms out of the lower register with a slightly spiccato bow. And I love the viola’s warm, singing alto — it’s like having Joni Mitchell’s voice at your fingertips.
Respect for the viola in the world of fiddling is long overdue.
Starting in the fall of 2018, I’ll be accepting viola students at my teaching studio. Over the coming year, I plan to release video lessons for violists (including duets for fiddle and viola). Eventually, I hope to publish a book of fiddle tunes arranged for viola, with all the tunes in their original keys, so you can take your viola to the bluegrass festival campground and take your rightful place among the fiddles, banjos and mandolins.
If you’re a violist interested in fiddling, drop me a line — I’d love to hear from you!
You can find information about my teaching studio, its address and my rates elsewhere on the website. And if you have any questions, ask away!