How to Play the Viola: Beginner Basics

by Anne Leaman

This teaches people who have never played before the basics of playing viola and one song.


  • 1 Viola
  • 1 Bow
  • 1 shoulder rest
  • Instructions

    Step 1

    First, you must tighten the bow. Turn the screw in the very bottom clockwise until the wood of the bow is slightly curved. This is a loosened bow.

    Step 2

    This is what a tightened bow should look like.

    Step 3

    To hold the bow properly, make your fingers into a lama shape with your thumb tucked under and your pinky and pointer fingers up in the air and the middle and ring over the thumb.

    Step 4

    Make sure your thumb is under the ring and middle fingers.

    Step 5

    Now it's time to pick up the bow! Put your bow in between your thumb and middle and ring fingers. Your pinky should be standing up and your pointer should be resting on the bow above the other fingers

    Step 6

    Your thumb goes under the bow between the bow hair and the stick. It should be between the leather casing on the bow and the frog(the very bottom of the bow).

    Step 7

    Now you must put the shoulder rest on so it is comfortable to play. Put the rest on by sliding it on the sides of the bottom of the instrument.

    Step 8

    To tune the viola, use the tuning pegs and a digital tuner. To make the top string(A string) go higher, turn the tuner clockwise. To go lower, turn it counterclockwise.

    Step 9

    Tune the D string, second highest, G string, second lowest, and C string, lowest, the same way.

    Step 10

    If the strings are very out of tune, you will use the tuning pegs. When making the string go higher, do not turn it too far or your string will snap. Do not be worried if the string gets loose.

    Step 11

    Next, place your left hand on the body of the viola.

    Step 12

    Lift the instrument above your shoulder.

    Step 13

    Place the instrument on your shoulder.

    Step 14

    Put your chin on the chin rest and make sure the shoulder rest is feeling good. Make sure when to hold the instrument, you stand with good posture. And pick up the bow.

    Step 15

    Now, it's time to play twinkle twinkle little star. Play the second string from the top twice. It should sound like a D on the tuner which should still be on the tuning pegs.

    Step 16

    Now play your top string, the A string twice.

    Step 17

    The first finger on the A string is also played twice and it should look like a B on the tuner. Make sure it's in the right spot.

    Step 18

    A string once

    Step 19

    Third finger on D string twice. It should sound like a G check on the tuner.

    Step 20

    Second finger on the D string twice. Make sure this finger is close to the third finger spot. It should sound like an F sharp(F#)

    Step 21

    Play the first finger on the D string once. It should be right across from the first finger on the A string. It should sound like an E.

    Step 22

    A string twice

    Step 23

    G or third finger twice.

    Step 24

    F# or second finger twice.

    Step 25

    E or first finger once.

    Step 26

    D string twice.

    Step 27

    A string twice

    Step 28

    B or first finger twice.

    Step 29

    A string once.

    Step 30

    G or third finger twice.

    Step 31

    F# or second finger twice.

    Step 32

    E or first finger twice.

    Step 33

    D string once. You're finished. Great job!