Viola Music Graded for Difficulty

Links to other sites
Annotated Index


This page lists viola music for learners, at successive levels of difficulty or 'grades' from early learner to preparation for music college.

This listing does not attempt to be a complete list of music for viola learners. It is just an unofficial compilation of the viola pieces set in recent years by the three Examining Boards which organise British nationwide music exams. So the list does not contain music for complete beginners, or many tutors, studies, or fun books such as Christmas albums and 'play along' recordings. Also most of the composers, arrangers, and publishers are European.

The three Examining Boards are :
Associated Board Of The Royal Schools Of Music, London (ABRSM).
Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London.
Trinity College London.

There are ten levels of exam, from Preliminary, through Grade One to Grade Eight, to a Recital/ Performer's Certificate, all pre- music college training. Sometimes the different Examining Boards disagree about the difficulty of a piece. In these cases the piece has been put at the lower level (on reflection, it would have been more encouraging to put them at the higher level!). In multi-movement works, different movements may be assigned to different grades.

The next level up, not included here, is a professional Performing / Teaching Licentiate. There are extensive lists of professional repertoire for violists in the main viola site resources.

The ABRSM also has exams for several instrumental ensembles. The current syllabus lists for viola and piano, and for string quartet, are given below.

Some of the items may be out of print.

As well as the solo viola and viola ensemble lists compiled from exam syllabuses, this listing includes viola duets and music for learning treble clef. These sections have been compiled from suggestions from viola mailing list members.

The Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music has a web site which gives the full listing of their current syllabuses for all instruments.
The site also includes syllabuses for various instrumental ensembles. The ensembles involving viola have been included below.

Guildhall School of Music and Drama has a site which does not contain their syllabuses, but the syllabuses can be ordered from the site.

Similarly, the Trinity College London site gives some information about the special style of their exams, but not the full syllabuses, and publications can be ordered from the site.

Another source of graded viola and string ensemble music suggestions, which includes methods and studies as well as repertoire, is the American String Teachers Association (ASTA) String Syllabus, Volume 1, edited by David A. Littrell. This can be ordered on-line from the American String Teachers Association.

Confusingly, the American and British grading schemes are different : UK Grades 1 to 8 cover roughly the same range of standards as ASTA Grades 1 to 5. Guides to equivalent ASTA levels are given below, based on the works which appear in both UK and ASTA listings, but no claims are made for the correctness of these equivalents !

Internet sites with online catalogues for online ordering of sheet music :

Bristol Music Shop (UK)
J W Pepper
Shar Music
Sheet Music Plus
Sheet Music Service
Southwest Strings
Theodore Front

The Looksmart search engine has a 'sheet music and books' category with many links.



Preliminary level players are able to play C, G, D one octave scales. This section is roughly equivalent to American ASTA Grades 1 and 2.

This section includes UK Grades :
Preliminary Grade
Grade One
Grade Two
Grade Three


Grade Four players are beginning to shift and play vibrato. This section is roughly equivalent to American ASTA Grade 3.

This section includes UK Grades :
Grade Four
Grade Five
Grade Six


Most amateurs do not go to this level, which is roughly equivalent to American ASTA Grades 4 and 5 and to Donald McInnes' Viola Repertoire List Level I.

This section includes UK Grades :
Grade Seven
Grade Eight
Recital/Performers Certificate


This section includes :
Easy to Intermediate pieces for Violists learning Treble Clef
Viola and piano - both parts at same level of difficulty.
Easy to Intermediate Viola Duets - includes a few multi-viola works.
String Quartets for learners.

Professional viola repertoire lists are given in the resources section of the main viola site.

Top of Page

List compiled by Lisanne Bainbridge :

Version 5 : May 1999