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How Do I Prepare for Viola Lessons?

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  • Written By: Angela Farrer
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 01 September 2014
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You can prepare for viola lessons by choosing a qualified instructor and a lesson schedule that fits with the rest of your work or school obligations. A music teacher who is able to tailor viola lessons to your particular experience level will generally be the most beneficial to you as a musician. Once you have selected your instructor and scheduled your first lesson, preparing your viola and practicing a few music fundamentals will help your lesson go smoothly. It will also give your instructor a better idea of your current strengths and areas that could use improvement.

The day of each of your viola lessons, check that your instrument is correctly tuned so that your instructor can accurately pinpoint any mistakes that come from finger placement rather than from a wrongly adjusted string. Apply rosin to your bow prior to your lesson as well, as these preliminary steps will free up valuable lesson time for learning and feedback. Warming up your basic technique is often quite beneficial before each lesson, so your bowing movement and finger placement will still be fresh in your muscle memory. Consistent practice habits will also save lesson time spent on correcting simpler mistakes that could have been improved during practice time at home.

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Musicians with experience playing string instruments normally report that regular practice is the most important part of improving techniques that can often be challenging to master. If you are relatively new to playing this string family instrument, viola scales are often recommended as practice material before every lesson. Beginning players usually start with open string exercises in order to master bowing movement, and they then usually progress to the simplest scales to practice finger placement. A methodical approach to scale practice will also help you progress in your viola lessons. Many instructors prefer to hear a simpler scale played correctly than a more complicated one played poorly.

If you are a more seasoned musician who belongs to an orchestra, your orchestra's current music pieces will usually be the primary focus of your viola lessons. Lessons often present an opportunity to break down sections of your music into simpler steps and to concentrate on perfecting one note at a time. Orchestra rehearsals normally do not have this luxury of time to spend on each musician's playing technique. Many string instructors assign one short passage at a time to be ideally practiced each day before the next lesson. Preparing for viola lessons also entails readiness to accept your instructor's feedback.

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