EXERCISES FOR VIOLINISTS LEARNING ALTO CLEF
While various transposition schemes can help a violinist quickly play viola parts, actuallylearning to read the clef aids in passages with accidentals and facilitates choice of fingerings higher than first position. First, learn to recognize the printed notescorresponding to the open string pitches. Then, build on the fact that intervals look thesame on the staff regardless of clef, and that you already know what a printed intervalsignifies in terms of possible left hand shapes between fingers.In the exercises below from Hans Sitt’s
Practical Viola Method
, use your visual, tactileand aural senses of interval recognition to become oriented in alto clef on viola. While itwould be possible to play these exercises exclusively by ear or tactile sense, make theadditional association of note names as you play. After learning the exercises in firstposition with open strings, play them again with 4
fingers instead of open strings, andthen in other positions and with shifts. Test yourself by skipping around to play any bar atrandom.The Rolla
can also be played to some extent by ear, but there aresurprising twists and turns, and it is valuable experience to identify each key by name asyou travel through the exercise. Try starting at various random points to test your readingskills.Scales and arpeggios, especially those of one-octave shifting up one string, as well asSchradieck volume I, Sevcik Op. 8 shifting exercises, the first position double stopexercises by Marjorie Trott, and
by Katrina Wreede are effective resourcesto solidify both clef reading skills and left hand accuracy. Take care to insure that the 4
finger plays high enough in first position to match the corresponding open string. Noticewhich keys fall more naturally into second, half positions and fourth positions than intofirst and third..