Why Do We All Joke About Violas?
Q: Why should every household have at least one viola?
A: You should always keep a supply of extra firewood at hand in case of emergencies.
Q: What is the best way to get all of the members of an orchestra's viola section to play in tune at the same time?
A: Have them play a measure in which they have a whole rest. (And even that may not work!)
We've all heard Viola Jokes . . . and WE ALL WANT TO HEAR THEM AGAIN!
(By the Way...Don't Miss the Amazing VIOLA-MATIC Video a Little Further Down the Page! Not for the faint of heart!)
Would YOU Pass? - Do You Have What it Takes to Play Viola?
Why Wouldn't The Violist Play on Her A-String?
My Own Alto Clef Memory Trick
The lines are (Top to Bottom)
G E C A F
Which I remember by
Giraffes Eat Candy And Fruit
Viola Players and Innovative Thought!
The principal violist for the symphony orchestra approached the conductor and handed in his resignation with great flourish.
"I've had it! I'm tired of the terrible pay. I'm tired of the jokes I'm hearing about how dumb my instrument and I are. I've been working for years on my new invention, and as soon as it hits the market I'm going to retire. It's got a huge profit margin! Demand is going to be incredible because I've never yet seen one in the marketplace."
"What's your invention?" asked the conductor.
The violist looked around to make sure he would not be overheard, leaned close to the maestro's ear and whispered, "A kickstand for tricycles!"
A Recent Submission
Little Johnny Jr. was practicing his viola dilligently, and doing the very best that he could, but try as he might the sounds just weren't overly pleasing. In fact the family dog had tried covering his ears to no avail, so he started to howl. The extra sound didn't deter Johnny, in fact it just made him practice all the louder. You can imagine the response from the dog.
Johnny Sr. tried to continue reading his newspaper, but just couldn't concentrate with all of the noise. In a loud voice he finally asked, "Johnny, can't you play something that the dog doesn't know?"
Here's One We Heard Recently
Q: What is the Difference Between a Viola and a Chainsaw?
A: The Sound's About the Same, The Difference is All in the Grip!.
Q: Why do violists place a cloth between their chins and their violas.
A: Violas don't have a spit valve.
A violist arrived late for a rehearsal of the local choral society's annual performance of Handel's Messiah.
As the violist sat down the conductor asked, "Would you like a moment to tune?"
"Nah." responded the violist. "It should be okay. I've left the pegs right where they were last year."
Everybody Seems to Laugh at the Viola
Why? Isn't It Obvious?
Most of us have heard viola jokes throughout our musical lives. Why do we tell jokes about violas and violists? I'm not sure, but the jokes portray the viola as unattractive and violists as...shall we say a little slow?
We respect cellists. We tolerate trumpeters. We smile sweetly at vocalists. We revere violinists! We even celebrate bagpipers every March 17. But violists? Well, at the right you'll see what one prominent violist's pet canine thinks of his master's instrument. Click Here for a Better Look at the Dog's Shirt!
For some reason it seems that the viola and those who play the instrument just don't receive the same acclaim. If I ask people to name a famous violist they are usually silent. If I say, "Yuri Bashmet," folks usually respond, "Gesundheit!" And when they look at the instrument the uninformed say something like, "There's something wrong with that fiddle." Upon hearing it they say, "He really should tune that thing!"
Do you REALLY think that would help?
Oops! See! I did it right there! No respect for the viola! This page is dedicated to demonstrating just what I am talking about here!
The principal violist of the local symphony orchestra decided that he was going to build a new viola for himself. He went to the local lumberyard to get some wood.
"I'm building a viola," he told the salesman as he pointed toward some boards. "My viola's just about as wide as these boards here, so, I'll use one of these."
"Okay," said the salesman. "And how long do you need it?"
"How long do I need it?" asked the violist. "Once I paid for the board, I thought you'd let me keep it."
What is a Viola, Anyway? - No, It's Not Just a Big Violin
A viola and a violin are very similar in appearance, at least until you begin to examine them closely.
Everyone is familiar with the violin. It's distinctive shape and sound are familiar to folks of all ages. The violin is a 4-stringed wooden instrument. The strings are played with a bow or plucked by the violinist's fingers. Those strings are tuned, from highest to lowest, to the notes E, A, D, and G. A 4/4 (or full size) violin is typically played by an adult. The size of smaller instruments are indicated by the fractions 3/4, 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, 1/16, and even 1/32 for the very youngest children!
So how is the viola different.
First, let's discuss tuning. The viola is tuned a "perfect fifth" lower. The viola's highest string is tuned the same as the violin's A. The next two strings are tuned to D and to G. The lowest string is tuned to C. The fact that these strings are lower than those of the violin comes from the length of the string, how tight the string is pulled, and how thick the string is. A thicker string does not need to be pulled so tightly, so that is precisely what you will find on a viola. Overall, the strings are thicker than on a violin. (This means that the viola will be slower to "speak" than a violin, and will require slightly more effort to produce a good sound.)
Secondly, the viola itself is different from a violin. Instead of measuring a viola in terms of a fraction as with a violin, the viola is measured in inches...the length of the instrument's body. Whereas a "full size" violin has a body length of about 14 1/4 inches, violas can reach anywhere from 12 inches to almost 18 inches. The lower half of the viola is usually broader than a violin, and the instrument if thicker (belly to back) than a violin. All of these are necessary to create the deep sonority sought by violists.
But the larger size of the viola can cause problems. More about that in a bit, but first...
A Lost Viola?
A well-known violist recently had the misfortune to lose his viola. His friends were upset when they found out that the violist decided against advertising in the newspaper or even putting up posters in the area where he had last seen the viola.
"What difference will it make?" asked the violist. "It won't help! I am almost positive that my viola can't read!"
More Funny Business
More Viola and Violist Jokes to Tickle Your Ears When They're Not Listening to Viola Music!
I'm sure that you've heard about the violist who was upset that he couldn't listen to viola music on his radio during the evening. There was an AM dial, and an FM (whatever that meant), but there was no PM..
Q: Why are a violist's fingers dancing across the fingerboard often compared to lightning bolts?
A: They never strike the same place twice! Their targets seem randomly chosen and randomly timed. And when they strike, disaster follows!
Q: Why don't more turkeys play the viola?
A: They carry their drumsticks with them everywhere they go.
(Some people say that ONLY Turkeys play the viola!)
Rumor has it that the U.S. Marines, looking for Weapons of Mass Destruction during the most recent Gulf War, raided a rehearsal of the Viola Section of Baghdad's symphony orchestra.
A violist was walking home one day, dejected and sad, he had sat in the last chair of his community orchestra's viola section for eight years and never once advanced.
As he walked by a trash bin, he looked inside. There, to his astonishment was a brass lamp. The violist pulled it from the trash and rubbed it to remove the dirt so he could see it better.
POOF! A genie appeared, and looked at his new master.
"Oh, you're a violist. You need all the help you can get. We normally give three wishes...for you I'll make it five. Anything you want!"
The violist was amazed at his good luck. He pondered the situation for a moment.
"Genie, I want you to double my music skills!"
The Genie nodded. "DONE!" and the Genie disappeared.
The next rehearsal the violist sat down to play and was amazed at the sounds coming from his instrument! As one, the rest of the viola section stood and moved back one chair, leaving the Principal Viola chair open for him. First Chair! After 8 years! The violist was so excited!
On the way home he pulled out the lamp, rubbed it, and the Genie appeared. The violist gushed over his good fortune, while the Genie just nodded, knowingly.
"Genie, I want you to double my music skills again!"
The Genie disappeared. The violist walked the rest of the way home, and found a note inviting him to an audition for a viola position with the Terre Haute, Indiana Philharmonic. The Violist had never been to such a huge place as Terre Haute, and so he was excited. He drove to Terre Haute, auditioned, and was granted the Principal Viola position there.
You can guess what happened from here. A tenfold increase in skill placed him in the middle of the Viola Section in the New York Philharmonic! He was thrilled! Another increase of skill by one hundredfold earned him the Principal Violist position with the prestigious Berlin Philharmonic.
"How fortunate for me!" said the violist. I doubled my skill, then doubled it again, then multiplied it by ten, then by a hundred, and look where it got me." He puffed his chest out with pride. "I have one wish left."
He rubbed the lamp and the Genie appeared.
"For my last wish...INCREASE MY MUSIC SKILLS ONE THOUSAND TIMES!"
The Genie trembled. "Are you sure?"
"A thousand times!" the violist repeated.
"But you might not like..."
"I said increase my skills a thousand times! That will make me 4 MILLION TIMES BETTER THAN WHEN I STARTED. GENIE, MAKE ME A THOUSAND TIMES THE MUSICIAN I CURRENTLY AM, AND DO IT NOW!"
The Genie shrugged, "If that's what you want."
The violist closed his eyes, and felt himself being transported to a faraway location. He imagined himself playing concerts for European Royalty. He imagined Juilliard and the Curtis Schools of Music fighting over who would get his services this year. He was filled with confidence...and pride...and could hardly wait to see where he would find himself next. The motion stopped.
The Violist opened his eyes and found himself back at the rehearsal of his original community orchestra. He was in the percussion section standing next to a 14-year old boy. The violist was holding a triangle and a kazoo.
"What???" the violist gasped. "There must be some mistake. I play a triangle and a kazoo???"
The boy spun and faced him.
"Maybe next year if you practice really hard. This year you just hand me the musical instruments when I point to you."
The conductor of a major symphony orchestra returned to the podium after a brief pause in the rehearsal, when suddenly a knock-down drag-out fight erupted between the principal violist and the violinist who sat beside him. The conductor jumped between the two men.
"What's going on here?" he demanded.
The principal violist burst into tears, and the other man smirked silently.
"Maestro," gasped the principal violist between sobs, "my viola isn't in tune anymore. This guy turned one of the pegs and he won't tell me which one."
Ten minutes later everything was all sorted out. Smiles reigned throughout the viola section. The violist called out, "Everything's okay now Maestro. We've got all the pegs parallel again."
And Every Violist Deserves a Little Help
Just in case a little too much time goes by, and your violist gets a little rusty, this shirt will help him get back into playing form Presto.
Great Reading About Violas and Violists - Reading for Fun, or Reading to Learn, Reading About Violas is Great
How Scary is THIS?
Viola -- Problems and Innovations
One reason that it seems so easy to make fun of violas and violists is the issues presented by the viola, and the lengths to which violists have to go to play it, as opposed to the relative ease of playing the violin. The viola is notorious for causing shoulder and neck problems due to its length and thickness.
The larger instrument required to produce the deeper sounds can be very awkward to play in the same position as the violin. In fact, many people believed that it would be easier to play an instrument so configured in the same position as you would play a cello, positioned between your legs, rather than holding it up.
Lionel Tertis was a marvelous violist who sought to create an instrument with all of the desired sound characteristics, which was comfortable to play. Together with luthiers Arthur Richardson, Wilfred Saunders and Laurence Cocker numerous designs were developed...the result of which was a wider lower half of the instrument and deeper ribs (making the viola thicker belly to back).
This "solution" really is helpful. The sound produced is rich and full. And the instrument is easier to hold. But the strain put on the arms and shoulders of a violist are still problematic. Corrective surgery is common among professional violists! I've even heard it said that all violas should come with the business card of a good orthopedic surgeon.
A Solution to the Problem? - It looks funny, but this is no joke!
David Rivinus is a luthier from the United States who has taken the problem seriously. The instrument pictured here is his "Pellegrina." This viola is actually accoustically correct in that the sound produced is said to be the equal of the traditional design. The shape of the instrument allows the violist to play with a more natural position. This tremendously reduces the physical strain on the instrumentalist's arms and shoulders. This New York Times Article discusses the instrument and those who play it!
So now we know what a viola is...how does it sound. We'll get to that in just a moment!
What Does a Viola Sound Like? - William Primrose Plays Paganini Caprice 24 on the Viola
Jascha Heifetz Plays Paganini Caprice 24 on the Violin
A Viola Quartet!
They call themselves the Absolute Zero Viola Quartet, and I really enjoy the music these folks produce! Be sure to visit their website at www.absolutezeroviola4.com!
Now You've Heard the Violin and the Viola...
Which Performance Did You Prefer, the Viola or the Violin?
Care to Learn About Violas and How to Play? - Here are some Excellent Resources!
What's Your Favorite Viola Joke?
Please read through the page, and leave your joke in the comments area!
Type in your joke and tell me if you'd like to be identified on this lens if we use your joke!
Will The Fun NEVER STOP?
Why do Violists get so terribly nervous whenever they see a light switch?
ALL THOSE POSITIONS!!!
Q: How do you know when a violist comes to your door?
A: You can hear him call out, "Pizza Delivery!"
Why do violists consider their instruments sacred?
Because a person bows the instrument, but only God knows what's going to come out!
What do you call someone who hangs out with musicians?
Did you hear about the violist with perfect pitch?
I didn't hear about him either.
(Alternative Answer--The viola lands in dumpster every time he throws it.)
A couple was having marital troubles. They went to a counselor to see if their marriage could be saved.
"You need to communicate more," the counselor implored. "You need to interact with one another! If we can't get you chatting some this marriage is doomed. So I want the two of you to go to the symphony concert this evening!"
The couple looked at one another, then back at the counselor.
Finally the wife spoke. "But doctor, I thought you wanted us to talk with one another more."
"That's right," said the counselor.
"But during a concert you're supposed to be quiet," said the husband.
"The soloist is playing the Walton Viola Concerto this evening," said the counselor. "Fifteen minutes in you'll be talking just like everyone else in the hall."
The principal violist of the local symphony orchestra called the local chapter of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals to report his neighbor for abusing an octopus. PETA sent out representatives immediately since this was obviously going to be a major news event. The news crew simply turned off the camera and left when the offending individual answered the door wearing kilts and carrying his bagpipes.
Why is a Viola Like a Court Case?
Everyone's Happy When the Case is Closed!
A Few More Smiles From the World of the Viola
A violist got tired of hearing all the viola jokes. He decided he needed more respect from his fellow musicians, and so he decided to trade instruments.
After careful thought he walked into the local music store and asked to see the most prestigious instrument he could think of.
"I'd like to see your accordions, please."
The store owner pointed to a display at the very back of the store, and the violist hurried down the aisle. Twenty minutes later he was back.
"I'll take the big gray accordion!"
"You're a violist, aren't you?" asked the store owner.
"Yes, how did you know."
"Sir, that 'big gray accordion' is a radiator."
Q: Why are intermissions at the symphony limited to twenty minutes?
A: More than that and you have to retrain the violists.
Q: How do you put a twinkle in a Violist's eye?
A: Shine a flashlight in her ear.
Q: What's the difference between something written in Alto Clef and something written in Greek?
A: Some people can actually read Greek.
A violist had not advanced a single chair since he started at the back of the section when he auditioned 9 years ago. Frustrated, he decided to do whatever was necessary to improve his position. He went to the conductor with an offer.
"Maestro," said the violist, "I'll do anything for you if you'll even move me forward a single chair. I just can't stay where I am any longer."
The conductor realized that it really wouldn't matter a whole lot which chair the violist sat in, so he decided to cooperate.
"I'll move you up a chair if you do a chore I've been putting off."
"Of course, Maestro, anything." Replied the violist.
"Take this can of paint and this brush," said the conductor. "Go out in front of the house and paint my porch."
The violist eagerly took the paint and the brush and hurried out the door. An hour later the violist came back in through the back door (violists always use the back door) and told the conductor that the job was done.
"You did the entire porch?" asked the conductor.
"Yes, Maestro," answered the violist, "Inside and out. But that car's not a Porch, it's a Ferrari."
Q: What is the difference between a vat of grapes and a vat of violas?
A: You take off your shoes to stomp on the grapes!
Can't Get Enough Music Jokes? Look At These!
What Do YOU Think About Violas and Viola Players
There sure are a lot of jokes about violists and their instruments! But there seems to be a large number of at least semi-talented people who play viola. In fact, two of the best string players I've ever met play or played the viola!