My experience was similar to yours. There was a shortage of violists in my high school orchestra – only me after I volunteered. I had no problem adjusting to the viola and played well enough to play second-chair in the city-wide youth symphony after only one summer of self-teaching and practice. Somehow, alto clef was not at all difficult for me as I learned right away to associate it with the larger instrument, but I struggle with it now sometimes when I play the “violin-sized” viola. What I liked the most about the viola was the bowing technique — I always had a tendency to be a little “heavy-handed” with violin bowing — too intense. The viola is still my favorite – I love the sonority and depth of tone – and it’s fun being in the center of the orchestra, sometimes playing an octave above the cellos and sometimes playing a unique fill-in harmony. Thank you for your post.