What is a Viola Teacher?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

A viola teacher is a skilled violist (viola player), who instructs others on how to improve performance on this instrument. Such teachers may have extensive formal education or they may merely be skilled at playing the instrument and teaching others. Level of education required to be a viola teacher depends on a variety of factors, including where instruction takes place and degree of instructor’s talent.

A viola teacher may instruct students in music theory.
A viola teacher may instruct students in music theory.

Most often, a viola teacher is someone who trained extensively to play the viola, and perhaps other string instruments like the violin or cello. Training usually begins in childhood, frequently before people reach their preteens. Instruction only does so much, and person who would play professionally or semi-professionally must have a very good ear, some natural talent, and excellent work ethics. Students who begin this instrument usually do so at school, but they also may take advantage of private lessons and participation in youth symphonies to hone their skills.

Talented students in mid to late adolescence can become viola teachers. They can give private lessons to beginners, modeling these lessons on what they were taught. Giving a few lessons at this age is a good way of determining whether teaching should be part of the violist’s career. Beginning students can be the most challenging because of resistance to practice, and this can give people a good sense of whether they have the skills to inspire others to have a strong practice work ethic.

When these early experiences as a viola teacher are positive, people can determine how best to make this a life and career choice. Some violists choose to go to college and major in music education, which, with a teaching credential, gives necessary training to take jobs in elementary and secondary schools as band or string instructors. The availability of these positions depend largely on the school district and its music program.

Talented violists might proceed to joining orchestras or other ensembles, or they get music performance education first and then obtain work. As part of their work, they become principally private instructors, offering lessons, or they may also find positions working with youth symphonies as coaches, or as section leaders. The viola teacher may additionally instruct in violin, cello, or bass.

Degree to which these teachers are compensated may depend on area, price setting, credentials of the teacher, and how well teachers are known for their skills or performance. Those with more visible performance jobs, such as by holding first chair in a well-known orchestra, may be more sought as teachers. Over time, teachers also develop a reputation for skill, or lack thereof, and may get more applications from students that are principally from word of mouth references.

A viola teacher may approach this field from numerous directions, and performance skill and possibly education may be of use. Probably most important in sustaining the job is creating a reputation for being a successful and helpful teacher.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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