The veteran violinist, violist, conductor and pedagogue is interviewed in The Strad's September 2016 issue
Zukerman believes the viola offers all sorts of benefits, even to committed violinists. ‘It gives you information, and that builds knowledge, and also security within, somehow,’ he explains. ‘Learning the clef is useful, as is being on the other side, so to speak, of what happens within a chamber group or an orchestra.
‘Then physically there’s no question that it’s much better to do both. I learned that many years ago from Walter Trampler. He played the viola all his life, but he described to me how, once a month for two hours, he played the violin. “It constricts my muscles, and when I go back to the viola it’s so much easier,” he told me.’
And Zukerman then found that the benefits went the other way: ‘On viola you go out a little further. All of a sudden your muscles are open, so when you come back to the fiddle it eases up the pressure and the constant squeezing. If you start squeezing you’re going to have so many problems, so with the viola we learn how to release.’