STEP offers instruction in Violin, Viola, and Cello, all members of the Violin family and developed in Italy in the 16th century. These stringed instruments are played using a bow and produce a beautiful sound which is know the world over. These instruments have a long history in classical music, but have also been used in many forms of popular music, including much of the traditional music of Newfoundland and Labrador.
Learning to play these instruments requires a balance between body position, and arm, hand and finger weight. This takes time to develop and is a key ingredient in all forms of instruction offered in the STEP Program.
The violin is the smallest instrument in the Violin family. This means it also has the highest pitch. The sound is very melodic, and produced by drawing a bow across the strings. Sound can also be produced by plucking the strings with a finger (pizzicato).
This instrument is very popular because its small size makes it very portable. The violin is a very social instrument. You can play alone, or with other violinists. You can even play as part of a band. The violin is also known as a fiddle, especially in the playing of the traditional music enjoyed throughout the history of our province. Jigs, reels, polkas, and waltzes are very popular at a traditional Newfoundland kitchen party, or “Time”.
For beginners, learning to play involves achieving correct posture. The time spent in studying good posture allows students to play with greater ease as they develop other musical skills.
Violins come in fractional sizes suited to your child’s stature, making it possible for even two to three year old to begin playing. The minimum recommended age to start private lessons however, is age four or five, since the study of a musical instrument demands focus and discipline.
The cello (or violoncello) is the largest member of the violin family and is played sitting down. The cello has a beautifully rich and deep tone, making it a melodic solo musical instrument, as well as in chamber music ensembles, string orchestras, and as a member of the string section of symphony orchestras.
STEP has a growing contingent of cello players, who add flavor to performances at STEP concerts.
The Viola is a member of the violin family. It is slightly larger than a violin and has a lower and deeper sound. Since the 18th century it has been the middle voice of the violin family, between the violin (which is tuned a perfect fifth above it) and the cello (which is tuned an octave below it).
There is a great demand for violas in orchestra and other ensembles, as the viola is not as well known instrument as the violin. Transferring from the violin to the viola is easy for the technique required to play the violin is the same for the viola.