Viola Lessons IN BURR RIDGE


string instrument

Before the start of the 16th Century, the term “viola” was already in use to describe string instruments that bore similar characteristics of the violin family: the viola da braccio, which was played on the arms, had low ribs, four strings across a curved bridge and a round back; and the viola da gamba, which was played at the legs, had high ribs, five to seven strings across a flatter bridge and a flat back. The first actual visual evidence that we have of the viola is one that is painted into a famous fresco in the Santuario di Saronno's dome near Milan, along with a number of period instruments that fit the criteria for the violin family.


In 1597, a Venetian composer, Giovanni Gabrieli, wrote Sonata pian’e forte, a chamber piece wherein one part was specifically assigned to the viola. During the 16th and 17th centuries, the viola was mainly used in the orchestra and the opera. In the later period of the 17th Century came another form of composition – the Concerto Grosso. It was a form of Baroque concerto that consisted of a small group of solo instruments (called “concertino”) and a string orchestra (called “ripieno”) which included the viola. Famous Concerto Grossi composers included Vivaldi and Corelli.

The first known viola sonatas published in England in 1770 were written by William Flackton, a bookseller, publisher, organist and violist. Mozart wrote an entire Sinfonia Concertante for Violin and Viola in 1775. Joseph Schubert, another violist, penned a Viola Concerto in E-flat Major, which debuted in Dresden around 1800.

The viola is generally considered to have reached something close to its modern form in the 1600s and early 1700s, but experimentation continued into the 20th century. In the 1930s luthier Arthur Richardson and player Lionel Tertis set out to consolidate all the best parts of their favorite viola designs into an instrument that was ideal in every way, including a full tone and a smaller size. The Tertis viola is still highly respected today.

The viola often plays the alto voice in string quartets and symphonic writing. Viola soloistic roles in orchestral music include the symphonic poem Don Quixote by Richard Strauss and the symphony Harold en Italie, by Hector Berlioz. In the earlier part of the 20th century, more composers began to write for the viola, encouraged by the emergence of specialized soloists such as Lionel Tertis and William Primrose. English composers Benjamin Britten, Rebecca Clarke, Ralph Vaughan Williams, among others, wrote chamber and concert works featuring the viola. Paul Hindemith, who was a violist, wrote a substantial amount of music for the instrument, including the concerto Der Schwanendreher. The concerti by Béla Bartók, Carl Stamitz, Georg Philipp Telemann, and William Walton are considered major works in the viola repertoire.

The viola is primarily an orchestral and chamber music instrument, but it is also heard in jazz, folk, rock and pop music as well.

Famous classical viola players include Lionel Tertis, Paul Hindemith, Walter Trampler, Theophile Laforge, Vadim Borisovsky, Maurice Vieux, Lillian Fuchs, William Primrose, Frederick Riddle and Ernst Wallfisch. Well known jazz viola players include Leroy Jenkins, Mat Maneri and Will Taylor.

Rock/pop bands that have used the viola include The Who, The Cure, The Beatles, Van Morrison, and the 10,000 Maniacs. Folk musicians Mary Ramsey, Helen Bell, and Nancy Kerr have used the viola in their work.


Hannah K Watson

Violin/Viola Teacher
Hello! My name is Hannah and I am a Chicago-based fiddler, vocalist, performer, recording artist and violin teacher. I earned my degree in Music Composition and Violin Performance from Columbia College of Chicago in 2012. I have since been performing professionally for 15+ years earning tons of experience both performing on stage and recording in the studio. I was classically trained in my youth but quickly gained knowledge in a plethora of other styles including expertise in country/fiddle, classical, improvisation, and film music. Being fluent in a wide range of genres, I believe I am able to offer students a well-rounded and wider scope of playing skills and an engaging variety of music, which also allows me to make lessons more personalized. I believe students learn best with a healthy mix of 3 main ingredients involved in every lesson: 1. Foundational Skills - scales, exercises, violin basics. 2. Fundamental Elements - violin hold/posture, music theory. 3. Fun Creative Expression - learning specific repertoire, ear training, improvisation, etc. While maintaining these 3 building blocks, I do my best to adapt to each student's individual interests and unique learning habits while keeping every lesson interesting and personalized.
Diego Diaz

Diego Diaz

Violin/Viola Teacher
Diego Diaz began his musical training at age nine and started playing violin at age eleven. Now a first-year Master of Music Performance student at Roosevelt University, he studies with Almita Vamos. Past studies have included Bachelor of Music Performance at Western Occidental “Lisandro Alvarado” University where he studied with Dr. Francisco Diaz. Mr. Diaz also studied at the Latin-American Academy of Violin with Jose Francisco del Castillo. For many years, Mr. Diaz belonged to “El Sistema”, the system of Youth and Children Orchestras of Venezuela where he developed both orchestral and pedagogical skills.

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