Instrument education is an individual training held between the teacher and the student at institutions offering professional music education. The most significant role of the teacher is to serve as a role model and organize the educational process accurately. The student must acknowledge his/her instrument, gain basic target behaviors for playing, and keep these behaviors on a sustainable and effective level (Saraç, 2003, p.25).

Instruments are divided into groups; such as strings, wind instruments, percussion, and plectrum instruments. “Teaching of strings”, which have the closest sound to human voice, is a sub-branch of instrument education. Viola is known to be the second member of strings family, and is called “bratsche” in German and “alto” in Italian. Played with the simultaneous and coordinative movement of right and left hands, it rather looks like violin in terms of appearance and playing technique; only slightly bigger. It is tuned a fifth lower than the violin and uses C and treble clefs. Order of the strings are C, G, D, and A, going from lower to higher (Özay, 2005, p.4).

The methods used in professional viola education are divided into two in terms of their types:

  1. Methods written for viola
  2. Methods written for other instruments and then adapted to viola.

Violin is the instrument scholars mostly wrote methods for, throughout the world. The structural similarity between the violin and viola allowed viola to use methods written for violin, as well. These methods are transposed a fifth lower and are widely used in the curriculum of viola education. Although the methods written for viola are low in number, their levels are rather advanced. This limited number makes these books significant for viola repertoire. The inability to play at the beginning may seem like a disadvantage; however, each of the etudes available in these methods serve as sonata pieces; since they were written by taking the nature of viola into account and aiming for the sound of the instrument. In this study, Hoffmeister’s “EtüdenFür Viola” method is analyzed as one of these methods.

Purpose of the Study

Purpose of this study is to analyze the book Hoffmeister’s – EtüdenFür Viola, which is a vital source for viola education, in terms of right and left hand techniquesin order to provide a source for viola teachers and viola students, and to make contributions to further content analyses in the future.

In line with this purpose, the problem statement of the research is defined as “How Does Hoffmeister’sEtüdenFür Viola Method Appear in Viola Education In Terms Of Right And Left Hand Techniques”.

In the light of main problem statement, two sub-problems have also been specified:

  1. What are the right and left hand techniques available in the “EtüdenFür Viola” Method of Hoffmeister?
  2. What is the content analysis of the first etude in the method, in terms of sample etude analysis?

Research Model

The study, purpose of which is to analyze the book EtüdenFür Viola by Hoffmeister, in terms of right and left hand techniques, is based on qualitative research pattern. Data of the study have been collected through document analysis method. Krippendorff defines document analysis as “a research method used in the collection of valid and reliable information from sources and texts”; while Yıldırım and Şimşek (2008) describe it as “analysis of the sources prepared on a problem statement within certain times, or documents produced by various sources in different times aiming the problem statement, by a researcher”.

Population and Sampling

There are 12 viola etudes in Hoffmeister’s book which is the core of this research. All the etudes available in the book have been included in the study and analyzed. Sampling of the research represents the population.

Data Collecting, Analysis and Discussion

In order to collect the data, an “etude review form” designed by the researcher has been used for the analysis of the etudes. All of the right & left hand techniques used in viola education are listed in the form; and they are submitted to 3 domain experts to mark the techniques available in 12 etudes. The data obtained from the expert opinions have been reviewed and only the common answers have been included in the research outcome. These data are tabulated and provided under related headings.


The right hand techniques used in Hoffmeister’sEtüdenFür Viola can be listed as:

  1. Détaché
  2. Legato
  3. Staccato
  4. Tied Staccato
  5. Crescendo and decrescendo
  6. Use of accent
  7. Bowing on more than one string while playing double stops and chords
  8. Using the different parts of the string
  9. Far string shifts
  10. Ritardando

The left hand techniques used in the method are:

  1. Position shifts between I and VII
  2. Articulation
  3. Playing double stops and chords
  4. Grupetto
  5. Trill
  6. Grace notes
  7. Playing 8th
  8. Chromatic playing
  9. Non-stop chord playing
  10. Paying attention to double flats and maintaining intonation for tonality
  11. Arpeggio
  12. Finger streching in position
  13. Maintaining intonation in ½ position


In the research, the techniques used in Hoffmeister’sEtüdenFür Viola method have been identified and analyzed in terms of right and left hand techniques. In the etudes, it has been found that détachéand legato are the most frequently used bowing techniques in right hand. These are followed by staccato and tied staccato, crescendo and descrescendo, use of accent, bowing on more than one string while playing double stops and chords, playing by using different parts of the bow, far string shifts, and ritardondo. Although most of the etudes in the method requireI – II – III position shifts; the positions of I – II – III – IV – V – VI – VII must be practiced and comprehended in order to be able to play all the etudes. Since the method requires a medium or advanced level of viola playing skills, it does not aim for the teaching of a basic technique; but rather the collective use of several ones. In the master degree thesis, Yayla (1999, p.44) analyzed the methods used at faculties of education and concluded that Hoffmeister’s method is used by viola teachers.


Hoffmeister’sEtüdenFür Viola method must be practiced after the viola studenthas fully learned the bowing techniques, become capable of using it, and gained the skill of playing all positions between I and VII permanently and transitively. Depending on the curricular targets of the institution of the viola student, the etudes may be practiced at different stages in different institutions. The etudes should not be practiced in the order of the method; but rather in anorder depending on the competency and level of the student.

Recently, studies focusing on the analysis and research of methods written for instruments; such as violin, flute, or cello have been increasing. Although viola does not reveal a wide range of variety in terms of authentic method repertoire, different analyses of practiced methods will serve as a guideline for viola teachers and students. Besides their analyses in terms of right and left hand techniques; harmonic and form analyses of these methods are also believed to be useful for viola education.

Keywords: Viola Training, ViolaMethod, Franz AntonHoffmeister, Etude Analysis.