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What's in Your Case? 11 Professional Violinists Exclusively Unveil the Contents of Their Cases

Thomas McGregor

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Published: August 21, 2014 at 4:16 AM [UTC]

case photography credit: Arnold Steinhardt

Have you ever wondered if what you have in your case is similar to a what a professional has? Have you ever wondered what a professional violinist considers necessity for their success? Well, you're in luck. I have reached out to eleven of my professional colleagues to find out the answer to the question, "What's in Your Case?"

Brad Phillips - mandolinist, fiddler, composer Chelsea, MI
"In my case... At any given time, there is probably about 6-10 months worth of random string parts from various gigs that I have either written or was hired to play. Or a pile of chord charts and set lists from the last few singer/songwriter gigs. Copies of music (usually fiddle tunes) for students, photos of my family, too many bows, pulverized steel wool, dirty cleaning cloths, a worn-out shoulder rest, extra strings (for both fiddle and mandolin)."

Tom Morley - professional violinist/fiddler/workshop clinician/author of 'Learn to Play Irish Fiddle' & 'Fiddle Club Favorites'. Mobile, AL
"1. Of course I have some rosin–my new favorite is Magic Rosin ( made in the USA, by fine folks in St. Paul MN. It's so pure that it's clear as glass. And adds the perfect grab to every bow. There are a few bows I have that I thought needed rehairing, but one application of Magic Rosin & they sound good as new. Highly recommended. (And it's fun to pick the style you want!)
2. Several good pencils sharpened & ready to use at lessons, and most importantly, symphony rehearsals!
3. A microfiber cloth to wipe my fiddle clean after each use.
Unique items? I don't keep much in my case to begin with! But I do keep a little open A pitch tuning fork, going 'old school'. I'd rather hear the vibrations from the tuning fork than use a tuner or tuner app! And finally, I have a print out of the FAA Modernization & Reform Act of 2012 that states that airlines" shall permit a passenger to carry a violin in the aircraft cabin as carry-on baggage". As often as I fly with my fiddle I've never been bothered about bringing it on the plane–but I'm sure not going to take any chances!!

Oh, two final things–there's always an extra set of strings in the case. And photos of my wife Fran & two cats Finn & Zoey.

That's everything in my case!"

Javier Orman - violinist, songwriter, recording artist. Los Angeles, CA

"My regular shoulder rest doesn't fit in the case, so I always keep an extra one inside the case, for when (not if) I leave the main one behind in a green room far, far away.

I always have two rosins, because they break so easily!

I also carry two 'wristies' gloves for playing in cooler settings. They cover half of the forearm, have an opening for the thumb and a big hole for the other fingers.

After an unfortunate performance many years ago when I broke a string and didn't have a replacement with me, I now carry 3 new sets of strings with me (and one lightly used one in the tube-y thing-y).

I always keep a copy of some FAA legal document that gives me a deep sense of institutional comfort during travel.

Other things that I see as I look through my case at 6:48am at LAX: gum, a pen, two pencils, extra contact lenses, a mute, a bright green rubber band and a piece of cloth."

Melissa Tong - violinist, educator. New York City, NY

"1) The basics ~ rosin, shoulder rest, spare strings, peg dope, practice mute.

2) Clothespins ~ in case of outdoor gig!

3) Ear plugs. Not the foam kind you can get at the drug store, but the baby blues. Another violinist friend, Ben Russell from the Bryant Park Quartet, bought me my first pair and I've sworn by them since.

4) $20 mad money (held by a clothespin, of course) ~ for when you forget your wallet at home but you know your fiddle never leaves your side. Plus it comes in handy and makes you look baller when you forget to bring your mute to orchestra rehearsal.

5) Fresh sharpie ~ you never know when you'll be surrounded by adoring fans. ;)

6) A nail clipper! Must have!!!

Up until last week, I also had "mad money" pesos in my cases left over from a Mexico tour I had a few years ago. And though not technically *in* the case, I do have a carabiner attached to my case strap. Gotta stay hydrated during rehearsal."

Sean Orr - Texas / Irish fiddler. Austin, TX
" Lots of stuff in my cases. Besides the usual rosin, cleaning cloth, & shoulder rest, I usually have business cards, eye drops, reading glasses, list of fiddle tunes I know, paraphernalia from various bands (stickers, CDs, flyers, etc) vitamin packs for when I get sleepy."

Joseph Shuffield - violinist. Austin, TX
" Rosin, cloth, and a second bow are my must haves (also extra strings)--unique to me would include my mute assortment (mutes made with different materials generate different tone colors and I like to experiment), and the red cosmetic sponge I use as my shoulder rest--one side is coated with rubber cement so it'll stick to my violin without damaging the varnish."

Andy Happel - violinist, composer. Portland, ME
"1. I keep three microfiber clothes to wipe off excess rosin and dust to preserve my much beloved Jon Cooper violin.
2. My meteor iron rosin
3. My hydrometer, to keep my violin in check during the changing seasons in Maine and during travel.
4. My violin itself. It's a custom-made Jon Cooper O'Connor model. The label reads, "Fatto per il mio amico Andy Happel." I call it the Calendar violin because it's number 365 and there are so many islands here in Casco Bay, near where I live, early explorers referred to them as the Calendar islands.
5. Valentine card from my wife Margaret, which winks at me every time I open the case."

Taylor Morris - violinist, fiddler, educator. Mesa, AZ
"Things that are must-haves: metronome, practice mute, and lots of pencils. Two items that are unique to me: a pair of headphones (so I can always learn a tune from my phone or iPod) and a small moleskin with staff paper for writing down tunes and ideas."

Diane Gillenwater - fiddle styles teacher, performer, Kansas Fiddle Champion. Tokepa, KS
"A tuner or tuning fork...doesn't matter to me, I'm old school on tuning. A carbon fiber bow as an extra for those late night Kansas jams and a bandanna for cleaning strings or what ever might need to be fixed. Extra items....Hairbrush so as not have last minute Crazy Hair and a bottle opener....for bluevrassers it's a necessity..."

Joy Adams - Henry Mancini Fellow. Miami, FL
"Firstly; Earplugs, and the cable for my pickup.

I doubt any item is unique to me, but I think the earplugs are so, so, so SO very important. Hearing loss in the world of music is no joke. It's usually a result of an amateur sound engineer, feedback issues, or sitting in front of the brass section. Even a loud crowd in a bar can cause damage.

As for the cable, I have missed many opportunities to play because I didn't have my cable and the sound crew didn't have an extra one."

Andy Reiner - fiddler, composer, educator. Louisville, CO
"I keep extra strings and rosin. I also have extra CD' s to sell. I have random papers and setlists and music. And, a goat skin ceramic shaker."

Posted on August 21, 2014 at 8:04 PM
What is the case model on the article photo?

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