Right now I am listening to the accompanying CD to the viola part of The Lord of the Rings music. It arrived today, together with the violin version, and another book of favourite pieces of music arranged for viola with CD.
This is revolutionary progress in instrumental music. When I started learning the violin I had to listen only to myself screeching away and it was discouraging to say the least. I bought Stepping Stones for my son with CD and even the first piece is delightful because there is a très sympa piano accompaniment. It totally changes the enjoyment factor of learning. From solitary scraping, you are immediately part of an ensemble and it's much easier to hear that you need to change the sound to make it sweeter, quieter, louder, more confident or whatever.
I got home and, having made a much-needed cuppa after taking time off work to help out at an 'Anglo-Saxon' day at my eldest's school for an hour playing 'Happy Families' and remembering why I just had to get out of TEFL teaching (boredom), got out my viola (dusted it off), and tuned it up to the CD. The CD has two accompaniments to each piece: one with viola showing you how to do it (really well...!); one a karaoke version where you're on yer own (*shudder*). I am very rusty, but even I managed to play along as the pieces are not too hard technically. You can be part of an orchestra in your own home. It's FAB.
This is definitely the easiest and most pleasant method of getting back into playing the viola. The last time I had a long break was when I went to Bristol ex-poly to do my Masters. I arrived and joined the orchestra not having played for ten years. The opening ceremony in the cathedral began with the orchestra and a piece of music where the viola is super exposed at the start, can't remember which one it is now. Viola players are usually pretty thin on the ground, and there were two of us, so I was absolutely terrified. Luckily the other guy was good so it was easier to play confidently. My goodness though, talk about throwing you in at the deep end!
Will have to say good-bye to my finger nails!