These are offered in the spirit of fun, after all; I played the viola at one time myself...
Q: You are lost in the desert. You come upon a good Violist, a bad Violist, and a large white rabbit. Of which of the three do you ask directions?
A: The bad Violist. The other two are mirages.
Q: How do you stop a bus load of Violists from going over a cliff?
A: You don't.
Q: How do you teach a Violist down-bow staccato?
A: Write a whole note, put a down-bow mark over it, and then label it "solo".
Q: What's the definition of a quarter-tone?
A: Two Violists playing the same note.
Q: What is fifty Violists at the bottom of the ocean?
A: A good start.
Q: What is the difference between a Viola and a coffin?
A: The coffin has a dead person on the inside.
Q: Why is a doublebass better than a Viola?
A: The doublebass burns longer.
Q: Why does a Viola burn longer than a cello?
A: The Viola is always in its case.
Q: What's the difference between a Viola and a trampoline?
A: You take off your shoes to jump on a trampoline.
Q: Why do violinists switch to Viola?
A: So they can park in "handicapped" zones.
Q: A Violist and a conductor are in the street. You are driving and cannot avoid them both. Which do you hit?
A: The Violist. Business before pleasure.
Q: Define a true gentleman.
A: One who can play the Viola, and won't.
Q: Why are a Violist's fingers like lightning?
A: They rarely strike the same spot twice.
At a Viola Congress, the rumor went around that one of the participants could play 32nd notes. Many Violists clustered around their colleague and asked him if it was true. He assured everyone that it was, so they asked him to prove it and play one.
Q: Why isn't a Viola like a lawn mower?
A: Nobody minds if you borrow their Viola.
Q: How is a Viola different from a lawn mower?
A: You can tune a lawn mower.
Q: Why are Viola jokes so short?
A: So violinists can remember them.
Q: Why are violins smaller than Violas?
A: They're actually the same size -- it's the violinists' heads which are larger.
Q: What is the best recording of the Bartok Viola Concerto?
A: Music Minus One.
The personnel manager broke up an intermission disturbance on stage between the principal oboe and the principal Viola. When asked what the problem was, the oboist said the Violist had knocked his reeds all over the floor. "He had it coming," blustered the Violist. "He turned down one of my pegs, and now he won't tell me which one!"
Q: How is a Viola solo like wetting your pants?
A: Both publicly humiliating, neither fortunately make much noise, but briefly do give one a nice warm feeling.
A Violist went backstage after a piano recital to congratulate the soloist. "I especially liked that piece that began with the trill," he commented. The pianist was confused: "Trill? Which piece was that?" "The one that went [sing Für Elise]."
Q: How many positions does a Violist use?
A: Three: 1st, 3rd, and Emergency.
A man went into a pawn shop on Manhattan's East Side one day to browse, and noticed an unusual statue of a golden rat. When he asked the proprietor about the piece, he was told that if he was interested in the statue he could have it only on the condition that he, the customer, would never come back to the shop again. "I've had a lot of trouble with that piece, and I want to get rid of it,"
said the owner. The man agreed on the conditions of the sale, put down his money, and went out with the statue.
On his way up the street with the golden rat under his arm, the man became aware of a scuffling sound behind him. By and by he realized that rats were following him as he walked, and with every step he took, more rats were joining the scores already behind him. The man started to panic. There were so many rats after three blocks that traffic stopped in the streets. The man began to run, and headed towards the East River, millions of rats in his footsteps. At the end of the piers he stopped and threw the golden rat out into the water: past him rushed virtually every rat on Manhattan island, and every one jumped off the dock after the statue, and drowned.
The man was flabbergasted. He walked back to the pawnshop. The owner tried to lock the door of the shop when he saw the man arriving, but the man got in too quickly. "Look here," said the proprietor, "I told you I never wanted to see you again in this shop!" "Don't worry," said the man, "I just had the most fantastic
experience of my life. It was terrific! I just came back to see whether you had a statue of a gold Violist."
Q: What is fifty Violists buried up to their necks in sand?
A: Not enough sand.
Q: If a Violist and a singer fall off a cliff at the same time, which will land first?
A: Who cares?
Q: Why don't Violists have hemorrhoids?
A: Because all the assholes are over in the violin sections.
Q: Why do Violists make effective rapists?
A: It's hard to fight back when you've got your hands over your ears.
Q: How is a Viola different from an onion?
A: No one cries when you cut up a Viola.
Q: What's another difference between a Viola and a lawn mower?
A: The lawn mower vibrates.
Q: What's the difference between a Viola and a vacuum cleaner?
A: A vacuum cleaner has to be plugged in before it sucks.
A man went on a safari in Africa. The first night out in the wilderness he was disturbed by the sound of drums, which went on all night long. Since the man was still moderately jet-lagged from his trip, he slept a few hours in spite of the noise, but the next morning asked his guide if the drums always sounded all night. "Drums never stop," said the guide. "It is bad if drums stop."
The second night the man was kept up again by the drums. The next morning he complained to the guide, who only shook his head, explaining "Drums never stop. Bad things happen if drums stop."
The third night the drums were louder and closer and more insistent than ever. The man didn't sleep a wink. In the morning, exasperated, he woke the guide, and shouted at him. "The drums! When will they stop?!" The guide, merely shook his head calmly. "Drums never stop. Bad things happen if drums stop."
"But what could happen? What could possibly be that bad?!" cried the man. "Bad things," replied his guide sadly. "Drums stop, Violas start."
Q: What is the requirement for a finalist in the International Viola Competition?
A: A finalist must be able to hold his Viola from memory.
After a long orchestral career, a Violist decided in his final few weeks of concerts to be adventurous and use fingerings in the third position. He practiced his excerpts carefully at home, and on the night of the concert, at the crucial point, shifted into third. His finger broke. After going to the hospital to get the bone set, the man collected disability forms from the symphony office, filled them out and sent them in. A few days later he heard from the insurance people that none of his claims could be met. "We're sorry," explained the adjuster, "but Violists are not insurable above first position."
Q: Why is it that Violists never practice?
A: The spirit is willing, but the Flesch is too hard.
Violinists have the Dont etudes; Violists have the Kant etudes.
Q: Why is a Violist like a Scud missile?
A: Both are inaccurate and highly offensive.
Q: What is the difference between a Violist and a seamstress?
A: The seamstress tucks frills.
Q: What is the range of a Viola?
A: About 30 feet, if you kick it hard enough.
Q: How do you tell when a Violist is out of tune?
A: The bow is moving.
Q: How do you know when there's a Viola section at your front door?
A: They never know when to come in.
Q: Why aren't Violists like terrorists?
A: Terrorists have sympathizers.
Q: What is the difference between a Viola and a chainsaw?
A: A chainsaw blends with chamber ensembles.
Q: How is a Violist like a terrorist?
A: They both sabotage Boeings.
Q: What's the difference between a shame and a tragedy?
A: A shame is a busload of Violists going over a cliff. A tragedy is two empty seats on the bus.
Q: What is the ideal length for a Viola?
A: About 12 inches, from the base to the lid of the urn.
Q: Why does a Viola make such an excellent murder weapon?
A: Because it is the classic blunt instrument, and never has any fingerprints on it.
Did you hear about the Violist that was so bad that the other members of his section knew it?
Q: How is a Violist different from a dog?
A: The dog can stop scratching.
A Violist came upon a shepherd tending his extensive flock. "If I can guess how many sheep you have here, can I have one of them?" he asked. The shepherd, confident that the stranger couldn't come close to guessing, readily agreed.
"Great! OK. You have 895 sheep."
"That's amazing! You're right. Well, you get one of my sheep. Now, if I can guess your profession, can I have my animal back?"
"Well, sure, that's fair, though I bet you'll never get it."
"You're a Violist."
"Well, that's correct! How did you know?"
"Put down my dog," said the shepherd, "and I'll tell you."
Driving home from a quartet gig one day, a Violist heard the scream of sirens from his neighborhood. As he got closer to his own street the noise increased. He could smell smoke, and the glare of emergency flashers was everywhere. Turning at the last corner, he was horrified to see that it was his own home, or at any rate, what was left of it, which was on fire. The police stopped him from going any further.
"What happened, what happened?!" the violist cried.
"I'm so sorry sir. The conductor of your orchestra came in here a couple hours ago, after you'd left home. He raped your wife and killed her, kidnapped your children and set fire to the house as he left. Sir? You should sit down sir, you don't look well, sir."
The Violist, his mouth open, was past hearing the policeman. "The Maestro," he murmured. "Just think, the Maestro came to my house!"
A Violist in the symphony was involved in a car accident and became paralyzed from the neck down. Management moved him back a stand.
Q: How many Violists does it take to mix up a batch of chocolate chip cookies?
A: Three. One to stir the dough, two to peel the M&Ms.
Q: What can you deduce when you see a Violist drooling from both corners of his mouth at once?
A: You know that the stage is level.
Q: Why do violists walk around when they play?
A: To get away from the noise.
Q: How many violinists does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: Just one, he simply holds it up and the world revolves around him.
Q: How do you get a violist nervous?
A: Put a sheet of music in front of him.
A string quartet consists of a good violinist, a mediocre violinist, a person who wishes he could play the violin, and a person who hates violinists.
Q: When the Dont Violin Etudes are arranged for cello, what are they called?
A: The Wont Etudes.
Q: Why is one of baseball's best pitchers named Viola?
A: Because he can throw you a curve at any time.
Q: Why do most people hate violists at first sight?
A: It saves time.
Q: Why are orchestral concert intermissions only twenty minutes long?
A: So that you don't have to retrain the violists.
Q: What's the difference between an oboist and a violist?
A: The oboe player sustained brain damage after taking up the instrument.
Q: How do you get a viola player out of a tree?
A: Cut the rope!
Q: You are driving on the road late at night in very stormy weather and come across a dead snake and a dead violist?
What's the difference?
A: The skid marks are in front of the snake.
Q: Why did the chicken cross the road?
A: To escape the viola concert.
Q: What do viola players do in their spare time?
A: Write dumb viola jokes.
A guy calls up a conductor and says, "I'd like to speak to your viola player." The conductor says, "Our viola player is dead." The guy hangs up.
Five minutes later, the conductor's phone rings again. "I'd like to speak to your viola player." The conductor again replies, "Our viola player is dead." The caller again hangs up.
Five minutes later, he calls back again. "I'd like to speak to your viola player". The conductor answers, "I told you, our viola player is dead. Why do you keep calling?".
"I like to hear it!"
Q: What's the difference between a chainsaw and a viola?
A: If you absolutely had to, you could use a chainsaw in a string quartet.
The violist in the back of the orchestra section turned to his stand partner when the page was filled with sixteenth notes and said, "You'd better take this. I have a wife and kids."
Did you hear about the violist who dreamed he was playing in the Chicago Symphony, and then woke up and found that he was!
Q: How many violists does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: None. The piano player can do it with his left hand
Q: How else is a coffin different from a violist?
A: A coffin is a wooden box that holds a dead body.
Q: What do you call a perfectly tuned viola?
A: A physical impossibility.
Q: How can one tune a viola perfectly?
A: Have Nolan Ryan throw it against a wall.
Q: Why did Einstein play a violin instead of a viola?
A: Because he was intelligent.
Q: Why is a viola like a lawsuit?
A: Everyone is happy when the case is closed.
Did you hear about the violist who got up to the fifth position and couldn't get down again?
Q: What's the best place for a violist to learn all the positions?
A: The Kama Sutra.
Q: How many violists does it take to change a light bulb?
A: None. They can't get up that high.
A musician was driving across a bridge when he saw someone poised on the railing, eady to jump off. He stopped his car, ran to the railing and grabbed the man before he could leap. He noticed that the would-be suicide was carrying a viola case under his arm.
"Don't jump!" he urged. "Just think of never seeing another beautiful sunset; of never hearing the birds sing again."
"I don't care", said the desperate man.
"Then think of your loved ones, your wife and children, who will never see you again."
"They are part of the problem," was the answer.
"Then think of the music. If you jump you'll never hear a recording of William Primrose again!."
"Who's William Primrose?"
"Go on and jump!"
Q: Why is the well-known viola solo like a premature ejaculation?
A: You know it's coming, and there's nothing you can do about it.
Q: How does a violist practice birth control?
A: By using his/her personality.
Q: How do you keep your violin from being stolen?
A: Put it in a viola case.
The string quartet always rehearsed at the home of the first violinist. The violist kept on inviting the others to rehearse at this place once in a while, and finally, the others agreed to do so.
When they arrived at the violist's house, they found a large and completed jigsaw puzzle sitting on the table in the study. They admired it and one of the members of the quartet asked their host how long it had taken to put it together. The violist replied, "Six months."
"Six months?" asked the cellist. "Why so long?"
The violist looked shocked. "I thought that was quite an accomplishment! The box said '2 to 3 years'!"
The musician was walking on the beach, enjoying his vacation. Without realizing it, he kicked a bottle lying in the sand, and it hit a rock and broke. A puff of smoke erupted from the bottle, and before the musician stood a genie.
The genie bowed low to the startled man, and said, "Oh, kind sir, thank you a thousand times. You have liberated me from my two hundred and fifty years of imprisonment in that vile vessel of glass. I am indebted to you and am your humble servant. I ask you to please make a wish; any wish of your choice, be it large or be it small. Be certain that it shall be granted."
The musician thought for a few moments, and finally answered, "Yes, there is something you can do, not only for me but for the whole world. The situation in the Middle East has become horrendous. There are killings and shootings every day. The Arabs and the Jews have only hate for each other. There is no peace at all. Can you put a halt to the constant turmoil and bring peace and love to these nations?"
The genie scratched his head, and answered. "You know, I have been sequestered in that bottle for two-and-one-half centuries, and I do not know the countries you are talking about. Would you, perhaps, have a map of the area that I may see, and you can better show me to what you refer?"
The man, obviously concerned and preoccupied with the Middle East situation, and spending much of his reading time studying the ongoing events in that area, just happened to be carrying a book that contained the necessary maps, and produced them for the genie to study. After much thinking, the genie replied that his unfamiliarity with the scene was a bit too great, that the problems presented seemed enormous, and that he was not able or equipped to come up with an instant solution. He said, "I feel I must decline to grant the wish you ask, but if you will ask of me some other request, I will hope to do better with it, and satisfy you."
Disappointed, the musician answered, "OK, in that case, I play in an orchestra. It would really sound very good, if only the viola section had better intonation. They are hopeless. Can you do something to get them to play in tune?"
The genie again scratched his head, and this time thought for a very long time before replying. Finally he said, "May I see that map of the Middle East again?"
Q: How many violists does it take to tune a viola?
A: Five. One to hold each peg, the other to turn the viola round.
Q: What's the difference between first and second desk in the viola
A: Half a tone.
Q: And the difference between first and last desk?
The conductor of a great symphony has a heart attack an hour before performance. The assistant director is on sabbatical. The artistic director asks if there is anyone in the orchestra who has any experience conducting. A modest man from the viola section steps up to say that he had some minor experience conducting a student orchestra in Vienna. HeÕll have to do. That night he conducts and at the end his performance is greeted with a 20-minute standing ovation and raves in the next dayÕs press. He conducts again the next night and the night after to similar acclaim, and takes over the job. Only at the close of the season does the regular conductor, now recovered from his heart attack, resume the podium. The violist returns to his old seat in the viola section. "Good to see you," the violist seated next to him says. "Where've you been?"
Q: What's the difference between a violin and a viola?
A: 1. The viola burns longer.
A: 2. The viola holds more beer.
A: 3. You can tune the violin.
Q: How do you get a violist to play a passage pianissimo tremolando?
A: Mark it "solo."
Q: What's the definiton of "perfect pitch"?
A: Throwing a viola into a dumpster without hitting the rim.
Q: Why do violists stand for long periods outside people's houses?
A: They can't find the key and they don't know when to come in.
Q: How was the canon invented?
A: Two violists were trying to play the same passage together.
Q: Why is a viola solo like a bomb?
A: By the time you hear it, it's too late to do anything about it.
Q: Why do violists leave their instrument cases on the dashboards of their
A: 1. So they can park in "handicapped" parking places.
A: 2. If someone mistakes them for mafia, they might get some respect.
Q: Why don't violists play hide and seek?
A: Because no one will look for them.
Q: Why do violists smile when they play?
A: Because ignorance is bliss and what they don't know can't hurt them.
Q: Why shouldn't violists take up mountaineering?
A: Because if they get lost, it takes ages before anyone notices that they're missing.
Q: What is the definition of a cluster chord?
A: A viola section playing on the C string.
Q: Why shouldn't you drive off a cliff in a minivan with three violists in it?
A: You could fit in at least three more.
Q: How many violists does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: None. They're not small enough to fit.
Q: Why do people tremble with fear when someone comes into a bank carrying a
A: They think he's carrying a machine gun and might be about to use it.
Q: Why do people tremble with fear when someone comes into a bank carrying a
A: They think he's carrying a viola and might be about to use it.
Q: What's the difference between the first and last desk of a viola section?
A: 1. half a measure.
A: 2. a semi-tone.
Q: Why can't you hear a viola on a digital recording?
A: Recording technology has reached such an advanced level of development that all extraneous noise is eliminated.
Q: Why is viola called "bratsche" in Germany?
A: Because that's the sound it makes when you sit down on it.
Q: Why can't a violist play with a knife in his back?
A: Because he can't lean back in his chair.
Q: What instrument do violists envy most?
A: The harp. You only ever have to play pizzicato on open strings.
Q: What's another name for viola auditions?
A: Scratch lottery.
Q: What is the difference between a violist and a prostitute?
A: 1. A prostitute knows more than two positions.
A: 2. Prostitutes have a better sense of rhythm.
Q: What is the similarity between a violist and a prostitute?
A: Both are paid to fake climaxes.
Q: How do you get a dozen violists to play in tune?
A: 1. Shoot 11 of them.
A: 2. Shoot all of them.
A: 3. Who the hell wants a dozen violists?
Q: What's the latest crime wave in New York City?
A: Drive-by viola recitals.
Q: How does a violist's brain cell die?
Q: How do you call a violist with two brain cells?
Q: Why do violists have pea-sized brains?
A: Because alcohol has swelled them.
Q: What is the longest viola joke?
A: Harold in Italy.
Q: What do you call a bunch of violists in a hot tub?
A: Vegetable soup.
Q: Did you hear about the violist who played in tune?
A: Neither did I.
Q: Why did the violist marry the accordion player?
A: Upward mobility.
Q: How do you transcribe a violin piece for viola?
A: Divide the metronome marking by 2.
Q: Why do you always bury a viola player three feet under?
A: Because deep down they are all very nice people.
Q: How do you keep a violist from drowning?
A: Take your foot off his head.
Note: the following joke is very funny in German, but doesn't translate
well into English.
Q: Was sind die drei Lagen auf der Bratsche?
A: Erste Lage, Notlage, und Niederlage.
Q: (What are the three positions of the viola?)
A: (First position, emergency, and defeat.)
Conductor: "Start three measures before the da capo."
Principal violist: "Hold on! We don't have measure numbers."
At a rehearsal, the conductor stops and shouts to the bass section: "You
are out of tune. Check it, please!"
The first bassist pulls all his strings, says, "Our tuning is correct: all
the strings are equally tight."
The first violist turns around and shouts, "You bloody idiot! It's not the
tension. The pegs have to be parallel!"
Radio presenter, Tim Pollard, on BBC Radio Jersey, when introducing a piece
of music by the well-known British composer, Eric Coates, said:
"All Eric Coates ever wanted to do was to write music to entertain. But for a while he was a professional viola player."
After his retirement the violist arrived home carrying his viola case. His
wife saw the case and asked "What's that?"
(In Germany it is a standing joke that some players leave their instruments in their lockers, removing them only for rehearsals and performances.)
A violist and a 'cellist were standing on a sinking ship. "Help!" cried the 'cellist, "I can't swim!"
"Don't worry," said the violist, "just fake it."
A 'cellist and three violists walked into a restaurant. Presently a waiter
came over to serve them.
"Good Evening, sir," he said to the 'cellist. "And what would you like
"I'd like a rump steak, medium rare," replied the 'cellist.
"Would you like anything with that?"
"What do you have?"
"Salad?" suggested the waiter.
"No, thank you," said the cellist.
"Oh, they'll have what I'm having."
A violinist noticed at the end of each rehearsal break, one of the violists
would look at the inside flap of his jacket before he sat down to resume
rehearsal. This continued for several decades, and the violinist became
quite curious about it. One day, during hot weather, the violist took off
his jacket and went off on break. The violinist waited until everyone was
off the platform, looked around, and sneaked over to the jacket. He pulled
back the flap and saw a little note pinned on the inside. It read: "viola
left hand, bow right."
A viola player decides that he's had enough of being a viola player--unappreciated, all those silly jokes. So he decides to change
He goes into a shop, and says, "I want to buy a violin."
The man behind the counter looks at him for a moment, and then says, "You
must be a viola player."
The viola player is astonished, and says, "Well, yes, I am. But how did you
"Well, sir, this is a fish-and-chip shop."
Once there was a violist playing in the Winnipeg Symphony. He wasn't that
wonderful a player, so he sat at the back of the section. One day he was
cleaning out his attic and discovered an old lamp. He gave it a rub and out
popped a genie.
"For letting me out of my lamp I'll grant you three wishes!" he said.
The violist thought for a moment and replied, "Make me a far better
musician than I am now."
The genie told him that this would be done. He was to go to sleep, and in
the morning he would be a much better musician. The next day he woke up to
find himself the principal violist of the Symphony. Well, this was just
great, he thought! But he knew he could do better. He rubbed the lamp
again, and out popped the genie.
"You have two more wishes!" he said.
"I want you to make me a better musician than I am even now!"
Once again, the genie told him to go to bed, and when he woke up it would
be so. When the violist awoke, he found he was now the principal violist of
the Berlin Philharmonic. Well, the violist thought this was pretty grand,
but knew he could do better yet. He rubbed on the lamp again, and once more
out came the genie.
"This is your last wish." the genie said.
"I want you to make me yet a better musician still!"
Yet again, he was told to go to sleep. The next morning, he woke up to find
himself back in Winnipeg, sitting in the last desk of the second violin
When "Oetzi," the famous glacier-mummy, was found in the Alps,
archeologists and anthropologists were mystified by the riddle of "Oetzi's"
nature, the chief question being: "How did he get under the ice-fields?"
Thanks to a joint venture operation by leading music-anthropologists the
mystery has found its solution: "Oetzi" must have been a violist. How else
could the glacier have caught up with him?
In order to save money, the musicians decided to build their Union Hall
themselves. As they proceeded to do the job, gradually the hierarchy of the
musicians was reflected in the jobs that they did. The violists found
themselves at the bottom of a ditch doing the nastiest of the digging.
Above them, supervising, was a trumpet player. One violist turned to
another and asked, "How come we're working down here and he's working up
The other responded, "I don't know, but I'll go up there and ask."
The violist crawled up to the top of the ditch. "Why are we down there
digging while you're up here supervising?" the violist asked the trumpeter.
"Because I'm smarter than you," was the reply.
"Huh, I don't understand," the confused violist said.
"Allow me to demonstrate," said the trumpeter. He walked up to the nearest
tree, put out his open hand in front of the tree and said to the violist,
"Hit my hand!"
The violist reared back with his fist and shot a punch at the trumpeter's
open hand. At the last instant, the trumpeter moved his hand out of the way
so that the violist's fist went slamming into the tree.
"OW!," cried the violist, "I see what you mean." He then returned to the
ditch and his friend waiting below.
"Well," said the other violist, "did you find out why he's up there and
we're down here?"
"Yes," said the violist, whose hand was still throbbing, "it's because he's
smarter than us."
"I don't understand," said his friend.
"Let me explain it to you," said the violist. He then took his open hand
and placed it in front of his own face.
"Now," he said, "hit my hand with your shovel!"
A group of terrorists hijacked a plane full of violists. They called down
to ground control with their list of demands and added that if their
demands weren't met, they would release one violist every hour.
Once upon a time there was a hospital where they made brain
transplantations. A client asked about the prices.
The doctor said, " Well, this Ph.D. brain costs $10,000...this brain
belonged to a NASA top scientist and costs $15,000...oh yes, here we a
violist's brain as well. It costs $50,000."
The client asked, "What? How's that possible?"
The doctor replied, "You see, it's totally unused."
A noted bon vivant and comic was recently flying to Berlin. He decided to
strike up a conversation with his seat mate.
"I've got a great violist joke. Would you like to hear it?"
"I should let you know first that I am a violist".
"That's OK. I'll tell it real slow!"
A psychiartrist walks into a brain shop, and says to the propriator "Hello.
I am here to do some reasearch on human brains. What do you have in stock?"
"Well," propriator began, "We have some Harvard MBA brains at $10 a pound.
We also have a few NASA brains going for about $100 a pound. And, just in
today, we have some fresh violist brains."
"How much are they?" the scientist inquired.
"$1000 a pound."
"Wow! That's expensive! Every orchestra has them. Why are they so expensive?
Are they really high quality?"
"Well, no, they're about average. But, do you know how many violists you
have to kill to get a pound of brains?"
A violist and a percussionist were walking in a park. The percussionist saw
a dead crow and said to the violist, "Look, a dead crow."
The violist looked up and asked, "Where?"
One day Timmy came home from school very excited. "Mommy, Mommy, Guess
what? Today in English I got all the way to the end of the alphabet, and
everyone else got messed up around 'P'!"
His mother said, "Very good, dear. That's because you're a violist."
The next day, Timmy was even more excited. "Mommy, Mommy, guess what! Today
in math I counted all the way to ten, but everyone else got messed up
"Very good, dear," his mother replied. "That's because you're a violist."
On the third day, Timmy was beside himself. "Mommy, Mommy, today we
measured ourselves and I'm the tallest one in my class! Is that because I'm
"No dear," she said. "That's because you're 26 years old."
Two years ago an orchestra was on tour in France. One evening they decided
to go find some snails so they could have escargot for dinner. Everybody
was given a bag and send into the vineyards.
Gradually everybody came back with their bags filled with snails. All
sections were there except the violists, who returned several hours later.
The concertmaster asked, "Were have you been for so long and why are your
"Well," they said, "I don't know how you managed, but it was a disaster. We
saw a lot of snails, but they were quick! Just as we went to get them,
rush...and they were gone!"
For sale: Viola, German, 19th century, 405mm. Excellent condition. Recently
Established string quartet requires first violin, second violin, and a 'cellist.
Entry Exam For The BBC Symphony Orchestra--Viola Players
The pass mark is 10% but be careful--over 45% and you are overqualified.
1. Who wrote the following:
a) Beethoven's Symphony No. 6
b) Faure's Requiem
c) Wagner's Ring Cycle
2. Tschaikovsky wrote 6 symphonies including Symphony no. 4.
Name the other five.
3. Explain "counterpoint" or write your name on the reverse of the paper.
4. Which of the following would you tuck under your chin?
a) a timpani
b) an organ
c) a 'cello
d) a viola
5. Can you explain "sonata form"? (Answer yes or no.)
6. Which of the following literary works was made the subject of a Verdi opera?
a) First among Equals -- Jeffrey Archer
b) Macbeth -- William Shakespeare
c) Noddy and Big Ears -- Enid Blyton
7. Domenico Scarlatti wrote 555 harpsichord sonatas for which instrument?
8. Arrange the following movements in order of speed, starting with the slowest first.
c) Very Quickly
d) At a Moderate Pace
9. Where would you normally expect to find the conductor during a performance?
10. Which of the following wrote incidental music to A Midsummer Night's Dream?
a) Des O'Connor
b) Mickey Mouse
c) Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy
d) Terry Wogan
11. Which of the following is the odd one out?
a) Sir Colin Davis
b) Andrew Davis
c) Sir Peter Maxwell Davies
d) Desmond Lynham
12. Arrange the following words into the name of a well known Puccini opera.
13. Within five minutes, how long is Chopin's Minute Waltz?
14. From which of the following countries did Richard Strauss come?
b) Sri Lanka
15. For what town were Haydn's "Paris" Symphonies written?
16. Which is the odd one out?
a) Fantasy Overture Romeo and Juliet -- Tchaikovsky
b) Romeo and Juliet -- Berlioz
c) Romeo and Juliet Ballet -- Prokofiev
d) Ten Green Bottles -- anon.
17. From which song do the following lines come?
"God save our gracious Queen, Long live our noble Queen."
18. Spell the following musical terms.
19. Tosca is a character found in which Puccini opera?
20. Arrange the following letters to form the abbreviation for a well-known British broadcasting corporation.
C, B, B.
Q: Why are so many violists dating drummers?
A: It makes them feel superior.
Q: What is the difference between a viola and fingernails scraping the blackboard?
Q: What's the difference between a chainsaw and a viola?
A: After you put gasoline in a chainsaw, people don't throw lit matches at you.
Q: What's the most famous TV show to feature a viola?
A: A Popiel infomercial; the viola was used to make crinkle-cut fries.
Q: How do you get a viola player to play softer?
A: Put WD-40 in his rosin.
Q: If a tree falls on a viola in the forest and nobody hears it, is there a sound?
A: Yes. The sound of applause (as soon as word gets around).
Q: Why should you never leave your viola sitting in a parked car?
A: A nearsighted thief may think it's a violin and break a window.
Q: What's worse than a viola ensemble performing Bach transcriptions?
A: Not much.
Except maybe 200 2nd graders with accordions accompanying a 75-year old retired wrestler on bagpipes, performing a Philip Glass arrangement of the Variations on the Brady Bunch theme song.
Q: Why don't orchestrators indicate scordatura in viola parts?
A: The instrument is already detuned; it would just confuse the player.
Q: What do you call the cadenza in a viola concerto?
A: Comic relief.
Q: Why are viola parts written in alto clef?
A: It makes it harder to prove that the wrong notes aren't copying errors.
Q: What do the Beatles and a viola section have in common?
A: Neither have played together in over 20 years.
Q: What's the most common tuning system for violas in Western music?
Q: Who makes the best viola mutes?
A: Smith & Wesson.
Q: What do you call two viola players playing in unison?
Q: What's the difference between the first and last desk of a viola section?
A: Usually not more than a couple of beats.
The string trio had been killed in an auto accident, and they were standing before St. Peter in front of the Pearly Gates. The violinist stepped forward and addressed St. Peter, saying "Umm...Hi, I guess I'm ready to go in."
St. Peter responded, "OK. But first, you have to pass the test."
"What's the test?", asked the violinist.
"How do you spell God?", St. Peter asked.
"G-O-D," responded the violinist, and she walked on through to Heaven.
Next, the cellist stepped forward and asked St. Peter, "How about me?"
Once again, St. Peter asked, "How do you spell God?"
"G-O-D," answered the cellist, and he passed through.
Finally, the violist stepped forward and confidently said, "Hey, St. Pete! G-O-D. That sure was easy."
He began to step forward when his way was blocked by two seraphim. He turned to St. Peter and demanded, "What's the problem?"
St. Peter answered, "Don't be so hasty. How do you spell chrysanthemum?"
Ten-year old Susie comes home from her first day of school all excited.
"Mommy, mommy; the music teacher is going to give me music lessons at school. And look, he gave me a viola to play. See? Isn't it pretty?"
"That's nice, dear."
The next day Susie comes home from school full of excitement.
"Mommy, Mr. Jackson showed me how to play 4 notes in first position on the C string!"
"That's nice, dear. Wash your hands, it's time for dinner."
And the next day Susie comes home from school, again full of excitement.
"Mommy, Mr. Jackson showed me how to play 4 more notes ... on the G string!"
"That's nice, dear. Wash your hands, it's time for dinner."
On the 4th day, by 5 o'clock Susie hasn't come home. 6 o'clock passes. 7 o'clock...
Her mother is frantic. She calls the police, Susie's friends ... no word at all.
Finally, at 11:30 Susie comes home - carrying her viola case, exhausted, with a somewhat vacant look on her face.
"Susie, where have you been? Daddy and I have been worried sick. Are you OK?"
"I'm sorry Mom. I know I should have phoned you, but I got a last minute call to sub with the Philharmonic."
An American orchestra had just arrived in Europe for a two-week tour. One hour before the first concert, the conductor became very ill and was unable to conduct, and the orchestra suddenly had to find a substitute. The orchestra manager asked everyone in the orchestra whether they could step in and conduct, and the only person who was willing was the last chair violist. The manager was very nervous about this.An American orchestra had just arrived in Europe for a two-week tour. One hour before the first concert, the conductor became very ill and was unable to conduct, and the orchestra suddenly had to find a substitute. The orchestra manager asked everyone in the orchestra whether they could step in and conduct, and the only person who was willing was the last chair violist. The manager was very nervous about this.
“We can’t audition you,” the manager said.
“No problem,” replied the violist.
“There’s no time to rehearse. You’ll have to do the concert cold.”
“I know. It’ll be all right.”
The violist conducted the concert, and it was a smashing success. Since the conductor remained ill for the duration of the tour, the violist conducted all of the concerts, getting rave reviews and standing ovations at each one. At the next rehearsal after the tour, the conductor had recovered, and the violist took his place at the back of the viola section. As he sat down, his stand partner asked him:
“Where’ve you been for the last two weeks?”
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