The alto voice of the violin family, the viola looks like a large violin, but it has a deeper, richer voice than its soprano sister. Violists are always in demand because there are fewer of them than there are violinists. Everyone has heard of the violin. Far fewer know about the beautiful lower voice of the viola. All of the orchestral string courses include note reading, ear-training, theory, technique, and ensemble playing.  A year of piano instruction is recommended (but not required) before undertaking an unfretted instrument, as stringed instruments require a rudimentary understanding of pitch for daily tuning and successful finger placement.