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Violas have four strings, C,G,D and A, are an octave above cello and a fifth below violin. I don't understand how I would play the notes below low C on the sheet music. Should I just transpose the music up an octave so that the notes are actually on my instrument? Thank you enter image description here

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    Throw that sheet music away, and look for a playable version. The first bars of the piano part also look like garbage. It looks as if somebody tried to transpose it from the original C minor into A minor, but didn't know what they were doing. The Internet is full of stuff that looks vaguely like music, but isn't! – user19146 Feb 11 '17 at 20:09
  • Both the viola and violin are non transposing isntruments when you talk about the lowest notes they play I think you are confusing matters. – Neil Meyer Feb 12 '17 at 17:03
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Yes, this looks like an error in transcription. I have seen pieces that get transcribed for Viola by merely changing the clef without taking into account the instrument.

For student pieces, the Viola version is often changed to a different key, usually a 5th so that the fingering matches what the violin uses.

So, transcribing up an octave can work, but this can put you into playing higher positions than you want.

The other option is to look for a better transcription that is arranged specifically for Viola, or look for it in a different key that is more suited for your instrument.

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