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Violas are members of the string family of instruments, also including the violin, cello, and upright bass. Violas are often mistaken for violins, as they are both held the same way (under the chin) and are the same shape. You can distinguish a viola, however, by its size (usually 15-16" as compared to violins at around 14") and it's deeper sound. Violas share the same string tuning as cellos, CGDA (with C being the lowest and A being the highest) and are tuned in fourths. They read alto, or C clef, and are the only instrument to do so.
Contributed by Rosie Valentine