V.com weekend vote: With the electricity out, would you practice your violin more, or less?
November 2, 2012 at 3:38 PM
What a week!
When monster storm Sandy hit the Northeast United States, I first was concerned for everyone's safety and well-being, wondering how people were faring with no electricity: no lights, limited computers and phones, no television, no refrigeration. What could they do?
Then I realized something: People could still play their violins! This beautiful instrument, 500 years in the making, does not require electricity. Unless, of course, you have an electric fiddle, but even many of those can either take a battery or be played acoustically. What a nice picture: my east coast friends playing the fiddle by candlelight. I actually did this, about a year ago when a major windstorm blew out the power for 3 days in Pasadena. Pretty fun!
But did people really do it? I thought I'd find out with this week's vote, and you don't have to be a storm victim to vote. Here is the question: if the electricity went out in your town or city for several days, do you think you would play your violin more, or less?
Less. My heat is electric and it would soon be too cold to have my instruments--or fingers--out and about.  obviously, the above applies to winter-ish power outages (that's what we mostly get).
if temperature were no issue, MORE, every time.
I have kids, I would have to keep them busy, but mostly calm (yeah right).
I would have liked to have seen a third choice - "no change".
My sole experience of a power cut was during a pub session a couple of years ago. The cut affected the whole area and lasted the best part of an hour. How did it affect us dozen folk musicians? It didn't - we just continued playing from memory as we always do. After a few minutes the barman found some candles so that we could continue the important business of going up to the bar and getting the next pint.
If there were an extended power cut of more than a few hours I don't think it would have much effect on my violin practice - orchestral rehearsals would be a different matter.
I might have voted NO CHANGE. But since that wasn't one of the choices, I voted MORE -- which was probably the case when I found myself in this kind of situation April 27-30, 2011.
What my neighbors and I experienced those four days in the aftermath of the Alabama tornadoes -- a 103-hour blackout -- was very mild compared to what people on the East Coast have endured in the wake of Sandy. More than half the year here is warm -- or hot -- and it was already warm season by late April. So playing instruments wasn't a problem at all.
For the evening sessions out in the garage, I had to play in near-total darkness about the last 60 minutes each session. All the formative instruction I'd had some years before in tuning and listening and memorization really paid off -- not to mention the old drills in bow control and bow division.
Our heating is controlled electrically. That means we would be cold in winter during a long power outage. In summer I would probably play -even- more.
From Joshua Iyer
Posted on November 2, 2012 at 10:33 PM
Yes, definitely I'd play more. That's one of the things I love about the violin - you don't need to charge it or put batteries in it, because it's a "natural" instrument and you can take it out whenever you want, play it wherever you want (to a certain extent), and bring it with you to practice in the middle of the desert in a place where there is 100% no electricity. I don't know when I'd ever be in the desert with my fiddle, let alone being in the desert at all, but... I suppose you could make it there if you wanted.
I think the cold would be a huge factor; if you have no heat. I'm really feeling for people who are still without electricity; it has got to be really cold.
Also, there's less light, at this time of year, and it makes the day quite a bit shorter. So you have to get dinner really early. And there's all the scrambling to figure out food, with no refrigeration and possibly a very complicated way of cooking it.
So I'm thinking: Short little outage=more practice. Days upon days of outage=survival mode, and probably not a lot of practice!
on many occasions when the power has gone out im thankful for my viola to entertain myself
Yeah, I'd rather vote NO CHANGE. I have several amps at home, mostly for my guitars, but I almost NEVER plug in. I live in the central NY area which did not suffer anything near what the coast did though some were without power here and there.
Well, I did practice more now with Sandy, but mainly during the day. Mostly tried to read through a bunch of different I also found it comforting to listen to music more. Without power for 5 days was difficult and it took a lot of time to do daily tasks such as eating and finding ways to stay warm and cheerful.
Please pray for the recovery of those who lost everything.
I apreciate all the comments, and many others since I last posted.
Power going out durring the winter here in Wyoming is not all that uncomon. Most people have an alternative heating source (i.e., wood or gas stoves/hearters). When it happens I practice more. If it is realy dark I focus on peices that I am memorizing. It would be fun though if I had night goggles and sight read... Hahahahaha!!! sometimes reading music by candle light is really cool!
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