Hi, I know how to play the flute and the piano pretty well and I wanted to learn a new instrument. I love the sound of the viola and I was wondering if it would be a good instrument to learn. Any opinions are appreciated.
Well, you could do far worse. Virtually all orchestras are desperate for Viola players, whereas there are only places for 2 flutes and none for pianists. If I have got it wrong and you are good enough to be one of the 2 flautists (or playing the solo in a piano concerto) then perhaps you ought to take the previous comment very seriously. Furthermore, when playing with friends, you should have no problem being the viola in a quartet and the quantity of music available is virtually limitless (and by the best composers as well). Relatively you would have to be a better pianist than a violist to succeed in that direction. The down side, is that it is a very difficult instrument to play (MAKE NO MISTAKE!). Probably not as difficult as the violin or 'celo to be fair (because the dark tone is easier to achieve than the sweet tone required of the violin, or the wide stretches required by the cello). If you do decide to try, you do not need a particularly expensive instrument. I am still using the skylark that I was given nearly 30 years ago. If you do go that route and become proficient then you are not far off being a violinist as well and that would blow opportunties wide open. Good luck!
Just be advised that any violin-family instrument is going to make piano & flute seem like learning to make fudge by comparison.
Get yourself a used instrument.
1.) You're more likely to give up on it than you were with flute or piano. A good live teacher will help, especially in the beginning.
2.) Used instruments are in good supply... that makes them hard to sell but easy to make a deal on. So many others before you have given up on it that pawn shops have plenty of them.
Viola is not as popular as violin/fiddle, because is isn't as good for use as a solo instrument, it's more for harmony/rhythm while the violin steps out and solos. This will leave fewer of them available used.
Still, there should be a ton of them for sale used, because they are no easier to learn than violin.
You COULD put viola strings on a 4/4 violin which is the same size as a 14" viola, and it might serve as a starter.
While the 14" viola and 4/4 violin have essentially the same length body, neck, and length of scale, a viola body is thicker (taller ribs). The viola also uses a bow that's different from a violin bow. Violin bows don't get full sound out of a viola.
The viola-strung violin will not have the same power and tone as a real viola.
Also, viola strings are heavier gauge than violin strings. In the long term, the the violin might be damaged by wearing viola strings.
Or you can snag a beginner viola from eBay for under $100 new.
You'll never be able to sell it for anything noticeable, but you can use it to see whether or not you want to get a decent instrument later or give up on viola.
There's plenty of sheet music available for viola. I find it a bit easier to play than the violin, but it took a while to get used to the different music. There are books of fiddle music for the viola too. It is a versitle instrument, and fun to play. Yes there are far fewer viola players than violin players. That's why I took up the viola, because I could never find a viola player to play quartet with. It's much smaller and easier to carry around than a cello. Becareful or you'll end up like me. I now have and play violin, cello and viola. It takes a lot of practice, but it sure is fun. Try and find some friends to start the string instruments with. Playing togeather makes practice more fun and helps you get to it when others are expecting you to advance with them.
I bought my viola from Crystalcello for about $135 delivered. Do get at least an ebony finger board and pegs. For a cheap viola it sounds pretty good. When I switch the strings from the steel ones that came with it to Dominant strings the sound improves a bunch. Get some hands on lessons if you can. It will help you learn much faster, and plan on a lot of practice. Get a mute if you live with any-one. A carbon fiber bow later will be another BIG improvement for your instrument. Get a GOOD rosin as the rosin most of these come with, if they come with rosin at all, isn't the best. I like the ABC's of strings Viola books if you don't have an instructer near you. I'm on book 3.