wrote about an experience that is altogether too common these days: he bought a violin on the Internet that turned out to be a VSO - a shiny Violin-Shaped Object that did not really serve. Happily, he found a better-quality instrument for himself at a violin shop.This week, adult beginner Michael Kennedy
There are plenty of other such knock-off products: bow-shaped objects; shoulder rest-shaped objects; chinrest-shaped objects; violin case-shaped objects; bottom-of-the-barrel strings and rosin that simply should not be sold.
It's actually pretty difficult to get through this business of learning and playing the violin without having at least a few experiences like this. What I'm talking about is a piece of equipment that you have to replace, not because it became worn out in a reasonable period of time or because you grew as a musician, but because it was so unbearably bad and ill-functioning that you decided you could not use it.
For example, in recent years I bought a case that seemed like it was going to be just great, until I realized that my bow did not fit into it! A case that isn't the proper size for a standard bow, what??
As a teacher, new students have brought me some amazing examples of disfunctional equipment, the most memorable being a VSO that was painted pink (it came that way). Even the parent was a little sheepish there, "We thought it was pretty, but will it work?" Ah, no, and not just because it's pink. I've also had some situations that I found a little more heartbreaking: the well-meaning grandparent buying a VSO online -- the $200 was not a small sum for them, and yet it was an absolutely unusable VSO. Then there are the Chinese knockoffs of everything; some will serve for at least a while, some will fall apart immediately.
A cheap case can be a real problem, especially if it damages the violin. Recently I discovered that the lid to a student's case was chronically pressing the frog of the bow up against the wood of the violin -- a recipe for damage! It needed to be addressed immediately. Other students have had cases that fell apart far more quickly than is acceptable -- they end up with no handle, broken zippers, loose lining, bow spinners that don't work, etc.
Has it ever happened to you, that your instrument, or something you procured for your instrument, let you down so much that you had to replace it before the reasonable life of the object? What was that item, and what is your story? For the vote, if you have more than one such incident, go with the one that caused you the most consternation!
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