Your teacher tells you you’re starting a new piece. You go to buy the sheet music, only to discover there are multiple editions to choose from.
Which edition do you choose?
The easy answer? The one your teacher tells you to buy. They like that edition and want you to get it for a reason. If they don’t have a preferred edition, it’s up to you to decide. While finances sometimes dictates that choice, here are a few things you should know about choosing sheet music:
What Do I Look For?
Everyone has different priorities when choosing an edition, but here are some things to keep in mind while browsing sheet music:
Is it easy to read? Can you read the notes? Are articulations clearly marked? It’s a good idea to look at different editions in person. Compare them side-to-side and see which one is easier for you to read.
Are there a lot of marked bowings and fingerings? These are easily changed with a quick pencil scribble. However, if too many are already marked in the part it can start to look messy if you need to fix them. Some people prefer to get sheet music with the least amount of bowings and fingerings so they can clearly mark their own.
Does it lie flat? Does the sheet music lie flat on the stand, or would you have to secure it? Would you have to break the binding to get it to stay where you need it to?
Price: More expensive editions cost more for a reason. You may find it helpful, or you may not notice a difference.
Is it Urtext? This only applies to certain pieces, but sometimes it’s helpful to use an urtext edition instead of a more modern one.
We pride ourselves on our sheet music selection at Johnson String. Stop in to compare in person or visit us online. We also do special orders; contact our sheet music specialist, Joan Faber at firstname.lastname@example.org.
They did it! All of the hard work, late nights, practicing, homework and dedication have paid off. If you’re looking for ideas for what to get the grad in your life, we have a few suggestions for you:
This is a great gift in so many different forms. Maybe it’s the Urtext edition of their favorite chamber piece or a piece they have always wanted to learn. All of our folk, fiddle, jazz, pop and world music is included in the Grad Sale, which includes things like Star Wars, Disney, The Fiddler’s Fakebook and more.
While not included in our Grad Sale, our ukuleles start at at just $89, making them budget-friendly in addition to being an accessible instrument. Curious to learn more about the ukulele? Check out our previous post about them.
Upgrade Their Instrument
Our Grad Sale for commercial instruments is back! Selected commercial instruments are 10% off through June 30, and you can take 15% off the bow and case when purchasing an instrument on sale as part of an outfit.
Want to purchase your rental instead? We’re offering double your first year equity when you purchase a rental instrument from us. Keep in mind that while you can always use your equity to purchase an instrument through our sales department at Carriage House Violins, this double first year offer is only available when purchasing your rental instrument.
Always available in any amount.
Still not sure what to get them? You can’t go wrong with a gift certificate! You can purchase one in any amount (call for details) and they are valid on everything from accessories to instruments.
You can check out the products listed here and much more in store or on our website. A heartfelt congratulations to all graduating this May and June. Good luck with your future endeavors!
If you are a violinist, you have probably been asked this question at some point during your musical career:
Can you play viola?
For some, the answer is a resounding “NO.” For others, this question leads to them taking on the viola as a secondary or primary instrument. This can happen at any point, but many students are asked around middle or high school in an effort to even out the sections in school programs. Since the violin is more well-known and recognizable, many students or families initially choose it over the unknown viola. Whenever or whatever reason the switch is happening, here are some important things keep in mind:
Be careful when choosing a viola size.
The viola is unique in that there is no “full size,” unlike other string instruments. The viola began as two separate instruments: alto viola and tenor viola. Technically, in order to achieve an ideal tone the viola should be much longer than it is now–upwards of 19 inches. That length would make it impossible to play. The tenor viola was the closest solution to this issue; however it was still so long that unless you had very long arms and fingers, it was too painful to play for an extended period of time. Modern violas fall closer to the size of the alto violas, with makers striving to recreate the sound found in the tenor violas of the past.
Today, the viola typically ranges in size from 15” to 17”, with most players falling between the 15.5”-16.5” range. Some 14” violas do exist (the same length as a full-size violin), but they do not have the same sound quality/depth. For new players, your best course of action would be to start by trying a 15-15.5” instrument and adjusting up or down from there. You do not want to feel like you are straining to play. It will feel larger, but should still be comfortable.
Learn to read or transpose the clef.
This may seem obvious, but it can be easy to rely on your ears to tell you exactly what you should be playing, especially if you are working on familiar repertoire. Violists primarily read alto clef and it is one of the only instruments that does so. It lies between treble and bass, with the middle line being middle C. This accommodates the instrument’s range well. Like learning another language, practice and immersing yourself will help you learn faster and more completely. Your treble clef skills will still come in handy, as viola music sometimes switches between the two. There are books that can help you make the transition into reading alto clef, which can be found on our website.
Your position will need to change.
It may look like a violin. It may still be held on your shoulder. It may even feel the same.
Keep in mind that violas and their bows are heavier than violins and this will change how you support the instrument. Your arms will be more extended and the finger-spacing of your left hand will be more spread out, which will necessitate changes in your overall position and posture to prevent tension. The best way to discover what you will need to change is:
Find a teacher who plays viola.
Find a teacher who really plays and works as a violist. Even with only one or two lessons, they can be an invaluable asset in finding a position without tension. Many violists are former violinists and will be able to help you with the transition.
Keep your eye on the Johnson String Instrument blog for more posts, and don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter!
Our halls are decked and all is merry and bright here during the Holiday Sale at Johnson String and Carriage House Violins!
Carriage House Violins of Johnson String Instrument
Our friendly and knowledgable staff is here to help with gift ideas for musicians on your list. If you are in New England, we hope you can visit our beautiful new space in Newton Upper Falls, Massachusetts!
Make an appointment to try violins, violas, cellos, and bows in our private trial rooms or recital hall at Carriage House Violins, or visit carriagehouseviolins.com to view our vast collection of instruments and bows. Starting a home trial for a player who needs a new instrument is a great holiday gift surprise!
Wristies provide excellent warmth while keeping your fingers free! Made of incredibly soft and comfortable Polartec polyester fleece, they are water repellent, retain body heat, and wick away moisture. Highly recommended by hundreds of professional string players!
The JSI Deluxe Violin Stands are beautiful handmade hardwood stands designed to hold a full-size violin and bow. The Deluxe Cello Stand holds a 3/4 size or full-size cello and bow. The wood is skillfully and tastefully decorated and finished with a golden brown varnish. The padded suede interior of the stand gently cradles the instrument, and comes in different colors. They provide easy access to the violin, as well as a stunning display for any home or performance environment. A great gift for anyone who wants to display their instrument beautifully!
Strad Rosin for violin, viola, or cello in a violin-shaped box:
This makes a great gift both for the excellent rosin–the formula for which is based on an old Italian recipe–and also for the beautiful box it comes in, handcrafted from root of tuja wood, and precisely carved to-scale in the shape of one of Stradivarius’s famous violin forms! Specify violin/viola, or cello formula.
The JSI Super-Wide stand light illuminates four pages of sheet music with nine LEDs! Runs on three AAA batteries, power adapter (included), or USB. With two brightness levels, a flexible lamp post, and firmli gripping clamps, this light can be adjusted to accommodate virtually any lighting need!