Violist

Play the viola in professional orchestras, bands, or chamber groups.
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Quick Stats


Salary Range
Highly Variable

Data from U.S. Department of Labor


What do Violists do?

Most people you talk to might not even know what a viola is. The slightly larger and mellower-sounding instrument is often left in the shadow of its cousin, the violin, but Violists play harmonies so sweet and notes so rich that they leave everyone who listens to them forgetting there are any other instruments in the world.

Bach and Mozart, two of history’s greatest Composers, preferred the softer tones of the viola to the soprano of the violin. Even Jimi Hendrix played the viola when he was younger. You just might be the next big name to bring fame to the underappreciated musical instrument.

Perhaps Violists get overlooked because they often play the supporting role in orchestral arrangements. If you’re a Violist, you end up performing more backup parts and fewer solos. But your instrument offers a cross between the high notes of a violin and the tenor of a cello, letting you serve as the string that knits together the whole orchestra. Without you, the flavor of a piece of music falls completely flat.

This just means you’re extremely proficient at practicing your craft. It’s easy to play the melody, but it takes a talented ear to be able to accurately produce the harmonies. The good news is as one of the few types of Musicians who have to read and play alto clef, you have a niche in the music market. While the violin is more popular, accomplished Violists are more sought after, giving you an easier boost into a spot performing with the orchestra of your dreams.


Should I be a Violist?

You should have an associate's degree or higher and share these traits:
  • Reliable: You can always be counted on to do a good job.
  • Social: You're happiest working on teams or with other people.
  • Detail Oriented: You pay close attention to all the little details.

  • Also known as: Viola Player, Vocalist

    How to become a Violist

    We recommend at least an Associate's degree. Check out these schools offering Violist-related education!
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