Rethinking Viola Pedagogy: Preparing Violists for the Challenges of Twentieth-Century Music
Doctor of Musical Arts
The majority of standard solo repertoire that violists perform was written in the twentieth century, but the pedagogical materials violists study are largely transcriptions of violin etudes, studies, and scales, which were all written in the nineteenth century or earlier. Music written in the twentieth century uses a language and techniques that are quite different from those found in older, tonal music. Because of this, violists are often unprepared for the challenges of their standard solo repertoire, and the pedagogical materials they study do not fulfill their purpose: to educate students in the skills necessary for successful musical performance. The first part of this document is historical, attempting to explain how the viola has arrived in the early twenty-first century without its own unique body of pedagogical materials suited its repertoire. The second part of this document is practical: it proposes a pedagogy for the viola that will help to better prepare students to play our standard repertoire. This part of the document uses an extensive number of musical examples from the standard twentieth-century repertoire to illustrate how the various etudes, studies, exercises, and scales presented can be used to help students in tackling the challenges of twentieth-century music more successfully.