Tyler Watson

Professor Ramos

English 101

September 18, 2017

How I Learned to Play the Viola

            In the seventh grade, I decided to join my school’s orchestra and learn how to play an instrument called the viola. The viola is “a musical instrument of the violin family that is intermediate in size and compass between the violin and cello and is tuned a fifth below the violin.” When I first joined I did not know anything about how to play instruments or how to read music. On my first day of class I had to pick between two instruments which was either the viola or the cello. I didn’t get as many options because I joined later in the year so there was no room in any of the other instruments sections. I decided to go with the viola just because it was smaller compared to the cello and I did not want to have to carry around an instrument that was so big with me all the time.

On my second day of class I was told that I should buy a book from a music store that was supposed to help teach you how to read music for the viola. Later that day I went and picked up that book at a local music store my teacher recommended and began to study. At first, I was pretty confused but once I started memorizing the name and position of one note at a time I started to understand more. The next day in class while the other kids in orchestra were practicing a few songs they planned to perform I was in a separate room next door with a few other kids that my teacher Mr. Webb had pulled out along with me. There were four of us in the room next door and I had not met any of them before. I then found out I wasn’t the only new person in class learning the viola and there was actually another person who was just starting out with the viola too and the other two people were here to help both of us learn as well. Once we were done talking with them I got an instrument provided from the school that I could use at school and take home and then we immediately began to practice.

After around one week of studying the book I was able to remember what each note looked like and the what the name of each note was most of the time. I also was getting the hang of how to hold the instrument correctly and the correct way to handle and use the bow. I continued to practice at home and at school and a few days later I was pretty familiar with the correct finger positioning for each note as well. While we were in class Mr. Webb walked into the room while we were practicing and said “Alright now I’m going to test both of you to see if you are ready to play with the rest of the class now.” We first had to show him the correct way to hold the instrument which was the easy part and we both did this correctly. Then, he began to show us music notes and we had to name each note that he pointed at. I actually did pretty good and I only got one note wrong, unfortunately for the other new student she got around half of them wrong which led her to have to practice a few days longer before joining along with everyone else. Once we were done Mr. Webb said that starting tomorrow I would be able to join the rest of the class and he gave me the music that everyone else was practicing in class.

The next day I got to sit in class with the rest of the viola section and practice the songs that we were preparing to perform. There were only around five violas including me in the orchestra which was not too big but I liked the people around me so I was fine with this. Mr. Webb began to conduct the orchestra as we played which I did not even know what he was doing at the time. On this day, I also learned that we had to perform these songs that I had just received in two weeks at a concert which made me pretty nervous considering I had never performed on stage for anything like this before and I did not have as much time to learn the songs compared to everyone else either. By the time the day of our concert was closing near I had practiced hard at school and occasionally at home enough that I was able to play all three songs we had to perform so I was not as worried anymore. On the day of the concert I had to dress up nicely in a white button-down shirt and black slacks with black dress shoes which I was not used to wearing. The concert was taken place at my future high school and we got to perform with students from other middle schools and students from the high school as well. We performed all of our songs fairly well and it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be because we performed in such a large group that I felt pretty comfortable.

As the years went on I continued to play the viola from seventh grade in middle school all the way until my senior year in high school. Over the years I improved on how I played and I even learned new techniques in playing such as vibrato. My main literacy sponsors that really helped me learn to play the viola and read music would be the music book I bought, the other students in my class, and my teacher. The music book was what really helped me to read music while my friends in class and my teacher helped me more to learn how to play and use the viola. Learning to play the viola actually helped me on many things such as learning to read music, learning to perform in front of crowds, and it also gave me a lot of knowledge about music too.


Work Cited Page

“Viola.” Merriam-Webster, Merriam-Webster,