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What Popular Songs Can I Learn To Play On The Viola?

Freshen up your viola practice by learning some popular songs. Classical works are classics for a reason and shouldn’t be ignored. Yet there's no reason to ignore some fun, easier to master, crowd-pleasing popular songs too.  Learning to play pop music on your viola will keep you motivated, stretch your musical sensibilities and challenge your technique in exciting ways.

These easy viola songs are available as digital downloads and prints. Sheet music isn’t expensive and, in some cases, it’s free. You can enliven your practice with sheet music pop songs by the latest artists and build your personal repertoire.

These songs will help maintain your enthusiasm and sharpen your skills:

Star Wars, Main Theme for Viola, range: D4-A5. This well-known classic is worth the $3.99, it features the instrumental solo part in G Major, but you can also purchase the complete orchestral music for an additional charge.

Eleanor Rigby by The Beatles. This string quartet score is $5.25 to download and wonderfully great to practice because everyone knows it and loves it. Viola range is E3-G5, and you can buy just your viola part for $2.99.

The Entertainer by Scott Joplin. Ragtime music was THE popular music of the early 20th century. The Entertainer was so popular, it made Joplin the first famous black composer in America. This free sheet music is for intermediate players, with a presto tempo and viola range of D4-A5.

Just the Way You Are by Bruno Mars. This sheet music is created for the viola range F3-C5 and costs $3.25 for one print and digital copy. If you can't get enough of Bruno Mars, you can also check out Grenade, for the range A3-D5, also $3.25.

The Star-Spangled Banner written by Francis Scott Key. Truly a must-have, the National Anthem sounds so beautiful on the viola. The range, of course, is large, Bb3-F5, but this B flat Major composition is worth the $2.99 download price.

All of Me by John Legend. This is a moderately slow arrangement for viola, range G3-E5. The sheet music costs $3.25 for one print and a digital copy.

By the Light of the Silvery Moon composed by Gus Edwards. This is another icon of early 20th century American music. It has a light, lively beat which provides a different change of pace from some of these slower tempos. The sheet music costs $2.99, and the arrangement is for viola range E3-F4. Searches on YouTube for a viola cover turned up nothing – so you can be the first!  Here's a traditional piano rendition:


Let It Go (Movie Version) from Disney’s Frozen. No popular song list would be complete without this lasting tune. With a range of F3-Eb5, you can reproduce this lovely piece of music and include it among your favorites. It costs $3.25 to download.

A Thousand Years by Christina Perri. This $3.25 download includes the instrumental part and solo for viola, range Eb4-Bb5. This popular song is well worth learning and adding to your repertoire.

Despacito by Luis Fonsi was named the Latin Grammy’s Song of the Year (2017) and has been covered in every style and language from Gaelic to Korean. Time to throw your hat into the ring with this arrangement for viola, range G3-Bb4. This sheet music costs $3.25.

Classic Rock for Viola. This collection is an excellent addition to your practice routine with 13 titles of some of the best classic rock, including, More Than A Feeling by Boston, White Room by Cream, and Behind Blue Eyes by The Who. For a mere $10.99, this book of sheet music for viola offers hours of utterly cool practice. If for some reason these rock classics are unknown to you, here’s a taste: 

Queen for Viola, by Queen. Queen rocks on every instrument and in every way. This music book is also $10.99 and includes 14 Queen classics from Bohemian Rhapsody to We Are the Champions, and beyond.

For any musical lovers out there, check out Broadway Favorites for Strings – Viola. This is a collection of 11 songs arranged for the viola from Broadway blockbusters including Phantom of the Opera, Beauty and the Beast, and The Sound of Music, among others. The book is a paltry $6.99.

Finding music that will help keep you interested and engaged during practice is one of the best ways to advance your skills. Learning popular songs will also improve your confidence to perform for others, and nothing enhances performance skills like actually performing! Learn some new tunes and get excited.

What is your favorite popular song to perform on the viola? Let us know in the comments below.

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