Play VIOLA as a Violinist | 1 Min, 10 Min, 1 Hour Challenge | Violin Lounge TV #447

by | Nov 17, 2021 | Start to Play | 4 comments

A professional violinist starts the viola and shows you how hard it is to switch from violin to viola

She answers all your questions about size, weight, force needed, reading in the clef and more:

Video content:

00:48 Violin vs viola tuning
01:04 Difference in weight
05:54 Left hand technique for small hands
07:23 Viola for violinists online course announcement
08:10 10 MINUTES playing the viola as a violinist
09:27 What viola did I choose and recommend
10:28 Choosing the right size viola for you
11:05 Viola clef explained
13:55 Left hand stretch tip
16:14 30 MINUTES playing the viola as a violinist
19:12 1 HOUR playing the viola as a violinist
20:57 The Swan by Saint-Saëns as a 1 hour violist

How hard is it to switch from violin to viola as a violinist?

With little differences in playing technique you can play a whole new instrument: the beautiful warm sounding viola!

In this video you’ll see me as a professional violinist start on the viola. You’ll hear how I sound after one minute, ten minutes and after one hour. I play the orchestra viola score of the Vivaldi Autumn concerto and the Swan by Saint-Saëns.

Most difficult for me when I started the viola were:

  • Finding a comfortable hold
  • Getting used to where the notes are as the distances between the fingers are bigger
  • Reading in the viola clef
Fun Fact: there’s a German word for musicians who started out as a violist instead of learned the violin first and it’s ‘Edelbratschist’.

Hi! I'm Zlata

Classical violinist helping you overcome technical struggles and play with feeling by improving your bow technique.

Learning to play the viola went faster than I thought

I have no illusion that I’m a violist now, but it surprised me how good it gets after one hour of practicing.

Reading the clef was getting easier quite fast. Most important is to be conscious about which note you play.

The weight and size of the instrument are also easy to get used to as long as you take enough breaks in the beginning.

It also surprises me that you don’t need much more strength than on the violin. The strings with the lower tension and the stiffer bow are quite easy to put weight on and make a full sound.

It’s great to be able to play a different sounding instrument without feeling like a complete beginner!

Announcement: viola course for violinists

I’m collaborating with Milan Milisavljević, principal violist with the Metropolitan Opera in New York, to create an online course for violinists to learn to play the viola:


  1. Elizabeth Shepic

    What a great effort at a new skill. Very appreciative since this is what I have tried for something new during the pandemic. I have tried learning the new clef and it is a challenge, especially those accidentals. You are so quick at learning!

    • Zlata

      Great that you’re picking up the viola too, Elizabeth! I looked at the clef before, so I wasn’t 100% new.


    My small, old violin feels like a tiny butterfly compared to my vintage viola! “Chunky” is a perfect way to describe the bow feeling. I am really enjoying this video & I’m only halfway through! You are an inspiration. Yep, shifting is a challenge. Half and second position are the violist’s best friends! 🙂

    • Zlata

      Thanks, Elizabeth, great to learn you play both!



  1. The Swan on Viola play along (1 hour progress) - Violin Lounge - […] Watch this video to see my progress as a viola beginner in 1 minutes, 10 minutes and 1 hour.…

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