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Viola and Concert Attire

I’m a violist, which means I have problems. The viola, which is bigger than the violin, is too big.  It’s too long and too heavy and there’s no way to play it completely comfortably—or to avoid the occasional visit to the orthopedist, for that matter. These are just the facts, and we live with them because we love to play.  For me, a major problem in performance, for years, was the awful sensation that the instrument was about to slip out from under my chin and off my shoulder.  I found accessories that helped—a good chin-rest and a good shoulder rest for support—but the best step I ever took was simply to stop playing in suit jacket, tuxedo, or tailcoat.  The idea was to remove all encumbrances.  Even a turtleneck is more fabric than I like to have between me and the viola, because every layer of fabric pushes the instrument a little farther away, makes me stretch my arm a little more, and makes the instrument feel less secure.  What’s funny is that when it comes to concert dress I’m still something of a traditionalist, and I wear all black. But now I’m a traditionalist without a collar.

A Minute with Miles -  a production of ETV Radio made possible by the JM Smith Corporation.