Overview and History of the Viola

The viola is an instrument in the violin family. It is slightly larger than the violin with a deeper, mellower tone. It’s tuned a fifth lower (although it is hard to distinguish from a violin when played in an orchestra, unless it’s on the C string). It parallels the human alto voice.  Violas were made as early as the 1500’s. Gaspara da Salo, who was a prominent cello maker, also was quite famous for his violas and his double basses. Originally, da Salo was given credit for making the instruments in the violin family. This was later proven untrue when earlier instruments and makers were found.

Age to Begin Viola Lessons

Students may begin lessons on the Viola at a very early age; at the Royal Academy, we recommend the student be approximately 4 years or older.
Viola is offered 6 days per week (Monday through Saturday).

Developing The Necessary Skills

A child is most prone to developing “bad habits” in music between the early ages of 4 through 12, that is why we take great care in how we introduce to our students to music. At the Royal Academy each child will explore music in its entirety, developing all the skills necessary in being a well rounded and creative musician.  The Royal Academy ensures that all of its students are taught sight-reading skills, counting and rhythmic skills, technical skills, basic music theory and most of all, to be creativity. We do not teach our students to “play by ear” nor do we subscribe to ridiculous notions that a child can learn to play an instrument online or in a month from a “learn it yourself book or CD “.  Music is accumulative and the only way to progress and become a good little musician is to instill  healthy and productive practice habits.  It is equally important the teacher presents the material in an enjoyable  and encouraging way, carefully listening to your child and understanding how they register the material along with being  attentive to your child’s problems in a particular area is key to their music development.

Finding an Instrument

If you do not already have a viola there are several options that you have. The first and least expensive option is to rent a viola. Because violia’s come in various sizes such as 12, 13, 14 15.  it is important to be “fitted” for a viola.  The reason it is important to rent a viola as opposed to purchasing one at first, is because your child will out-grow his/her viola rather quickly. Once a student reaches full size then it would make much more sense to purchase one. The Royal Academy rents a variety of instruments, if you are looking for a viola, please call us at 508-792-1221.

The Benefit of Viola Lessons

As well as being a prominent orchestral instrument, the viola has become quite eclectic. You may hear this instrument as a featured soloist in classical,  jazz, bluegrass, country, and even electric violin in “rock and roll” groups, a lot like its sister the violin. No matter what music you choose, the beauty of the viola will always stand out as an important voice for all to hear. Viola lessons will give you the opportunity to explore a variety of music genres.

There is no question that learning to play viola will improve upon a student’s coordination skills as well.  What is most notable and nothing short of amazing are the long-term positive effects music has on the brain. To elaborate, music can improve a child’s ” spatial ability”, the ability to comprehend other related materials or subjects such as mathematics and science. It is no coincidence that most scientists, physicians and immortal genius’ such as “Einstein” were all musicians.  Below is an article we thought our students might find interesting.

Interesting Article on “Music and the Brain”

Music enters the brain through the ears. Pitch, melody, and intensity of notes are processed in several areas of the brain such as the cerebral cortex, the brain stem, and the frontal lobes. Both the right-brain and left-brain auditory cortex interprets sound.  Feza Sancar (1999) writes that the right-brain auditory cortex specializes in determining hierarchies of harmonic relations and rich overtones and the left-brain auditory cortex deciphers the sequencing of sound and perception of rhythm.
Many studies have been performed to examine the affect of musical instruction on the brain. For example, researchers at the University of Munster, Germany, (1998) reported that music lessons in childhood actually enlarge the brain. The auditory cortex is enlarged by 25% in musicians compared to those who have never played an instrument. According to the study by Frances Rauscher of the University of California, Irvine, (1997) links between neurons in the brain are strengthened with music lessons. Dr. Frank Wilson’s study (1989) involving instrumental music learning to play an instrument refines the development of the brain and the entire neurological system and the brain reveal that evidence, it is clear that music instruction is essential to children’s education because it improves their academic performance. Curriculum areas that music instruction affects most include language development, reading, mathematics, and science. Music itself is a kind of language full of patterns that can be used to form notes, chords, and rhythms. Exposure to music helps a child analyze the harmonic vowel sounds of language as well as sequence words and ideas. Another curriculum area enhanced by music participation is reading. A child who participates in music activities experiences sensory integration, a crucial factor in reading readiness. Wilson’s study (1989) reveals that music instruction enhances a student’s ability to perform skills necessary for reading including listening, anticipating, forecasting, memory training, recall skills, and concentration techniques. Mathematics is the academic subject most closely connected with music. Music helps students count, recognize geometric shapes, understand ratios and proportions, and the frameworks of time. Researcher Gordon Shaw (1993) found that piano instruction enhances the brain’s ability for spatial-temporal reasoning, or the ability to visualize and transform information.

Our Classes

Private piano lessons at the Royal Academy offers encouraging, focused, individualized instruction given by the highest level instructor and serves to develop the students piano technique, rhythmic training, sightreading skills and general musicianship. At the Royal Academy students can explore the endless opportunities in piano repertoire. We offer lessons to all ages and skill levels as well as all genres of music, from classical to Jazz, blues, rock and pop.

At the Royal Academy guitar students can explore the endless opportunities in guitar repertoire. We offer lessons to all ages and skill levels as well as all genres of music, from classical to Jazz, blues, rock and pop. Private guitar lessons at the Royal Academy offers encouraging, focused, individualized instruction given by the highest level instructor and serves to develop the students guitar technique, sight reading, rhythmic and general musicianship skills.

The Royal Academy offers voice/singing lessons to students of all ages and skill levels, from the beginner to advanced vocalist. Learn to sing your favorite pop tunes, arias or jazz improvisation. Voice lessons at the Royal Academy offers a focused, encouraging, individualized program with an emphaisis on vocal technique, ear and rhythmic training and general musicianship.