How to Read in the Viola Clef (for Violinists)

by | Feb 12, 2015 | Music Theory | 2 comments

Are you a violinist and would you like to play the viola? Do you struggle with reading in the viola clef?

In this video I explain all about reading in the viola clef.

 Sheet music for the violin and the viola is written in a different clef. The violin uses the G-clef and the viola uses the C-clef.

The viola clef indicates the C on the spot where you (as a violinist) are used to find the B. You might be thinking: everything I read is one note higher. It’s actually seven notes lower.

The A string on the violin and viola are the same pitch. When you read the open A string in the viola clef, it looks like a G (second finger on the E string) on the violin.

The C that is indicated by the C-clef is the C you usually play with the third finger on the G string.

The C string is the only viola string we don’t have on the violin. It’s lower than the G string. When you see the open C string in the viola clef… it looks like the B you usually play with the second finger on the G string. When you would like to write this down in the G-clef, there would be a lot of help lines.

Would you like to start playing the viola and get used to reading in the viola key? I recommend getting a beginner book for the viola, even when you have a more advanced level on the violin. In this way you get used to reading in the clef step by step.

You can buy the book I show you in the video right here, but you can also use other method books.

Make solid connections between the note name, how the note looks like, where the note can be found on your instrument and how the note sounds. This gives you a good foundation to reading in different clefs.

Don’t use ‘shortcuts’ like reading the viola clef like you read the third position in the violin clef. You will be confused when there are a lot of sharps and flats and you can start over.

Is this video helpful to you? Please let me know in the comments below! If you like it, share it with your friends!



PS: Do you have questions or struggles on violin or viola playing? Post a comment below or send an e-mail to and I might dedicate a Violin Lounge TV episode to answering your question!


  1. Carlingford Music Centre

    Thanks for post this informative. I’m a long time reader but ive never commented till

    Thanks again for the awesome post.


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