"VIOLÀ, VIOLA: The ﬁrst question I want to pose is: why are there so many viola jokes? After all, the rumours that viola players are failed violinists are only partially true. The latest joke I’ve heard is one that I especially like and for a very particular reason: ›What can violinists do better than viola players?‹ The answer: ›Play viola!‹ Although this may sound rather nasty, I would like to point out that being a viola player only truly began as a profession in the 19th century, when professional orchestras started consistently needing them. Violinists used to play the viola when it was needed.
Of course, I am not, in any way, saying that the viola is not a legitimate instrument. Quite the opposite. It is actually quite an exquisite one. In fact, missing out on playing the viola is a big mistake for any violinist. Many great players have started to play the viola parallel to the violin, much as it used to be in the old times. Take my dear friend Julian Rachlin as a bright and shining example.
So what I am proposing is: if you switch to the viola or even start on the viola in the ﬁrst place, don’t neglect the violin! If you are a violinist, don’t miss out on the opportunity to play the viola – a wonderful instrument with its own gorgeous timbre. Learning to read the clef is certainly easier than you may suspect. In fact, why not start with these duets?" – Aleksey Igudesman.