V.com weekend vote: How does your pet react to your violin playing?

June 29, 2019, 1:15 PM · Do you have a pet? And how does your pet react to your playing?

When I was a student, I was a little surprised the first time my teacher's dog, Barney, sat in for a lesson. About halfway through, the big dog opened his lungs and started howling along as I played. Wailing, really. It was a little distracting, but also amusing! I probably would not want a howler every time I practiced, though.

cats playing
Perhaps your pets have formed their own quartet?

Growing up with dogs in the house, I simply practiced in another room -- one of them was extremely sensitive to high pitch. At this point, however, I don't have a pet myself.

Please choose the closest reaction from the selections below, then tell us all about it. If you have more than one pet, pick the most interesting reaction. What kind of pet(s) do you have? What is the strangest reaction you've had from a pet? Is your pet content to listen to you practice, or do you have to practice in another room or out of earshot?

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Replies

June 29, 2019 at 06:23 PM · We have 7 birds (cockatiels and budgies) and they happily sing along. They particularly like the key of G minor for some reason. Sometimes they chirp so much during practice that it actually gets distracting!

During the summer, we bring in monarch eggs and caterpillars to raise and release. Oddly, once the caterpillars get big, they respond by dancing, but only to certain frequencies. This year we had 5 who all danced whenever you played middle C. It was bizarre. Last year we had one who liked a slightly lower frequency -- I think it was open G.

June 29, 2019 at 06:46 PM · My cat loves the violin and vocal and gets very affectionate

June 29, 2019 at 07:12 PM · I kept a cat for a friend while on vacation, and the cat would always curl up in my case whenever I started playing, and would not leave until I stopped. If I made the mistake of laying the music down for a sec, for instance to change from one score to another, the cat would immediately pounce on the sheet music and refuse to get off. He had to be gently lifted off, after which he got back in the case and waited patiently for me to resume playing. Harmonics got the weirdest reaction from him, making him turn his head like dogs often do when they are puzzled or encountering something new for the first time.

June 29, 2019 at 07:18 PM · My Shih Tzu was a rescue for whom there was a lot of evidence of mistreatment from her prior life. She came with separation anxiety, intruder anxiety, unfamiliar noise anxiety, etc. When I first got her I couldn't play my violin at all without terrorizing her. Through gentle and patient effort on my part, she's gotten over that and just sleeps through it now. But I still can't play my electric violin in her presence, no matter how quietly, and I've never tried to play it any other way than very quietly in her presence. She will tolerate the electric if I play it through headphones now. It used to be the case that she wouldn't even let me do that! I can play music on my stereo from fm broadcasts, but cd's upset her. I haven't figured out why that is, but I'm guessing that it might have something to do with the greater frequency range cd's have compared to fm broadcasts. Headphones are the solution there too.

I'm a woodworker, and as you might have guessed by now, that creates problems for her, but even when I'm doing quiet hand tool processes she get upset. If the weather permits, she can go out in the yard, or even sleeps in the car on mild temperature days. I can't even operate my 1958 Singer sewing machine (quiet) without making accommodations for her. (!)

But she's a treasure that l will never give up. She's found that permanent home. And she slowly gets better with time anyway, it's only been 5 1/2 years after all. Patience is the key here. I guess I must be crazy. I should point out that I believe she would charge at a polar bear if she sensed that it was threatening me. Loyalty like that needs to be respected. Fortunately there aren't any polar bears or any other alpha predators around here.

June 29, 2019 at 07:39 PM · Our Seal-Point Siamese brothers, Harry & Ron (yes, it's a Harry Potter thing) come into the "studio" when I'm playing for myself in the afternoon. Harry tends to nestle down in the violin case while Ron finds a comfy pillow to sit on. The daily routine says that when I'm finished playing, then it is time for their Dinner - hence this is the feline dinner music.

When I finish playing, it's time to wipe down the instrument and bow and Ron starts vocalizing - letting me know that he knows it's Dinner time now that the dinner music has ended. Ron yells at me all the way to the kitchen and doesn't stop till there is food in his dish. Harry, meanwhile, is pretty quiet just biding his time waiting for his dish to be magically filled.

June 29, 2019 at 08:50 PM · My cat usually listens. She usually likes to sit either on the back of the couch or on top of the piano, and sometimes on the chamber music shelf in my bookcase.

But sometimes, especially when I'm practicing something that involves a lot of string crossing, she suddenly runs away and hides under the bed. One of my friends has suggested that it's because the bow going back and forth between strings might resemble a snake about to strike, or something like that.

I've been more of a dog person for most of my life, but for some reason dogs have always run away from me practicing viola, while my viola playing seems to attract cats. (At my last apartment, before I ever had a cat myself, there was a neighborhood cat that would always sit at my open window and listen when I practiced.)

June 29, 2019 at 09:04 PM · I don't have a pet. I grew up with dogs and cats, and they were just like members of the family to us. But my playing really didn't faze them.

June 29, 2019 at 09:56 PM · As soon as I play the first note on my violin, Daisymae our seven year old Beagle mix pops up into the bean bag chair in front of me, curling herself up comfortably in her front row seat to totally enjoy her private concert, practice or otherwise! Rescued from a shelter three years ago with many of the same issues Mark's fur baby had/has, with the exception of the violin scenario ~~ she's always seemed to enjoy it!

Our previous dog Shadow, a Brittany Spaniel mix, also a rescue, passed away 6 years ago at the age of 15 . While she wasn't quite the devoted music lover that Daisymae is, she never complained, off somewhere else resting comfortably. However during her last year or so I noticed that whenever I'd play she'd come into the room and lay down by my feet, contently taking in what she could by enjoying what must have been music to her ears, in spite of her hearing loss due to old age!

Elizabeth Dianne

June 29, 2019 at 10:04 PM · My cat and one of my dogs would always just quietly listen while I played, but my other dog always howls non-stop when I play. At first I thought she hated it, but she never leaves the room when I play, so I guess she's just singing along.

June 29, 2019 at 10:27 PM · I don't have a pet, but my father had a dachshund, who died two years after he married my mother, having shown significant jealousy of her. But when dad was practising, he used to howl along.

June 30, 2019 at 12:30 AM · My cat often joins me when I practise, but I believe it's because she hopes I'll stop and feed her.

June 30, 2019 at 12:41 AM · She's a hard-of-hearing sixteen-year-old dog. She couldn't listen if she wanted to, but she does sleep.

June 30, 2019 at 01:33 AM · I mentioned in a post before that my dog starts crying when I play. Not crying like "what a powerful performance", but like "dear god the pain in my ears is overwhelming".

My dog is the only dog I've ever met who hates the violin.

My birds song along sometimes. Other times, they screech incessantly (only while my bow is touching the string—some sort of dirty trick) and I have to move them in order to focus.

June 30, 2019 at 04:54 AM · I’ve been playing for a little over 2 years. I must be getting better because they all used to run as soon as I opened the case. Now they come and join me....except for the Blue Heeler.....she still goes under the bed.

June 30, 2019 at 06:11 AM · My dog lies on my foot.

June 30, 2019 at 09:43 AM · When I was learning as a teenager, my dog would come into the house from outside and howl, similar to Cotton’s I suspect. (Mouth organs did it too). So when I started again I was a bit anxious about this . I don’t currently have a dog, but the cat ignores me entirely, I’ll listen more closely to the birds now.

I love the story of the butterflies.

You have probably already explored this, Mark, but there are anti-anxiety meds for dogs.

Could someone please invent noise cancelling earphones for dogs?

June 30, 2019 at 10:29 AM · What can I say more than my Membership image alongside this post!

June 30, 2019 at 03:53 PM · Our cat used to slink away when she heard the piano or the cello. More quickly with the violin. Now, sadly, she is profoundly deaf and sleeps through it all.

June 30, 2019 at 04:37 PM · I had a dog, Silky terrier,he was always present when I played, but mainly sleeping,quietly.When my mom was with us and sang, that dog opened his mouth and yelled out his loud answer to my mother's singing. It is probably unnecessary to tell you, that dog wasn't my mom's favourite dog then.But now he is a golden memory for everyone in my family- he passed away already four years ago at his old age- he was 16 years with me, always until last day of his life.

June 30, 2019 at 06:30 PM · Rosemary, I did look into anti-anxiety meds for my dog. But I concluded that it was better to just respect her boundaries. She's really a very happy dog who sleeps right next to me every night, often sleeps in my lap when I'm reading, has human friends out in the neighborhood that she's always looking to meet up with, (she doesn't like dogs, unfortunately,) loves going for car rides, and I even have a carrier on the back of my bicycle that she rides in. Whenever I get my bicycle out she jumps for joy and runs to sit beside it, waiting to be lifted into her spot. (Note that the carrier has a harness system and she's safe in it.) She has a special fondness for our USPS mail carrier (he has "Puperoni" treats in his pocket at all times), and she'll run down the sidewalk to jump into his parked truck when she sees him. So as you can see, she's found her niche in the world, and there's no need for meds.

June 30, 2019 at 11:42 PM · When my daughter was working on a Seitz concerto that ended in a double stopped fifth, our dog used to sing along, eventually starting to make anticipatory noises a couple of measures before the fifth. One day, I suggested that she throw in the third of the chord, just to see what he would do. He didn't sing that time! We decided that it bothered him not to know if the chord was major or minor.

July 1, 2019 at 11:27 AM · My four cats just ignore me when I'm playing.

Our house is large, and they have free access to the outside, so they don't have to suffer any of my practice.

July 1, 2019 at 02:58 PM · My one cat (an older Russian Blue/Korat mix) sleeps through it all, though on a rare occasion he will come in and meowl through my shift practice (the Yost seems to make him batty). My other cat (a lynx-point Siamese) will either lay on the carpet in the adjacent room looking in at me through the French doors and will come in any time there is a break in music (such as writing a note, changing sheet music, etc.) and weave around my legs for pets. As soon as I start playing again, she'll go and lay on the carpet waiting for me. Sometimes she falls asleep whilst waiting, it's very cute. She knows that as soon as I am done practicing I'll play with her - so for her the music is her pre-hunt soundtrack.

July 1, 2019 at 06:35 PM · I voted "runs away and hides" but the true answer is "walks out of the room". Our cat loved it when my friends came to play string quartets but eventually I learned that he was just after the attention they gave him. He did not stick around after the greetings.

July 2, 2019 at 08:04 AM · Had a pet mongrel dog, I'm a pianist more than a violinist. Lovable dog always curled up under the piano every time I played. Can't remember any special reactions when I practiced violin.

July 3, 2019 at 12:23 AM · I'm a cellist and my pet dogs always curl up on the couch and relax while I play. One of them is deaf and he doesn't understand what I'm doing so he will run around and pester me (or other quartet members) for attention, sometimes even stealing and running off with rosin until I put the cello down and run after him to retrieve it.

July 3, 2019 at 11:59 PM · One of my cats hates it! She meows and climbs up the front of me sometimes completely suspended on my clothes

July 4, 2019 at 02:09 AM · Currently I have 2 cats. The older one is very mellow and he does nothing. If he is in the room, he may stay. The younger one moves like a rocket ship when I stat to play - violin or viola. My 4 dogs (over the years) have never seemed to care one way or the other. At one time I had two cats who seemed to enjoy the music in other ways. At various times 2 of them would choose to take a nap in the violin or guitar cases. Lesson cats also liked to curl up in one of the cases. Could have added a category for people with more than one pet.

July 6, 2019 at 03:42 AM · Re ~ Shady Lady, our Dog growing up!

My loving Dog, growing up in California, was my best friend & used to sit outside my bedroom window, listening to my violin practise everyday & evening! I noticed early on that Shady Lady would infrequently perk up her ears & not howl but whine in a very high pitch. And after experiencing this occasionally I realised Shady Only Whined when my intonation was off even

slightly!!! My father-teacher observed this and instructed me to pay 1000% attention to the tiniest variation of pitch in upper positions, which I did more than obediently! It was due to real

& unconditional love for my darling, Shady Lady, to not cause her any pain ~ Living there a long time, my violin practising did improve & my repertoire began including major Concerto's for

the Violin! As I improved, Shady Lady stopped her whining altogether & would sleep under my bedroom window, quietly, until USC awaited with a 4 Year Full Tuition Scholarship in Violin Performance!!!!

Needless to say, besides my marvellous teacher-father, Shady Lady proved my best Teacher in a vitally important skill always needed to aspire to Concert Artist-dom, which Jascha Heifetz, in a strange way, complimented after a JH Perfect Pitch Exam, conducted in our original Heifetz Violin Master Class at USC's Institute for Special Music Studies, when Mr. Heifetz asked we 7 pupil's, 'Class, Who has Perfect Pitch?' - to which All raised their hands! Heifetz then rigorously put each of us through his own exhaustive Perfect Pitch Test! Only Two (2) of us passed to be declared by Jascha Heifetz to have Perfect Pitch! I was one of the two!!

Thank You, my dearest 'Doggie', Shady Lady, now up in Dog Heaven in the Music Teaching Section ~

I Love You Forever, dear Teacher . . .

"Lizzie" *

* (aka, Elisabeth Matesky )

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