V.com weekend vote: Have you ever forgotten your instrument for a lesson, rehearsal or performance?

September 6, 2019, 2:43 PM · My adult student stood in the doorway looking rather sheepish - and also rather empty-handed.

"I forgot...my violin!" she said. "Do you have one that I could borrow for the lesson?"

I knew that she had driven all the way across town for the lesson. Apparently she realized she'd forgotten the violin after she was more than halfway there, so I understood why she had not turned back to get it.

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Fortunately, I did have a spare full-size violin for her to use. (Scaring up a fractional-size violin is a little more difficult, on those occasions when a younger student forgets!)

I couldn't be very judgmental about it, because I've been in the same shoes. Quite a while ago, I actually forgot my violin for an orchestra performance. The performance was 60 miles from my home. I had been so preoccupied with leaving on time to fight rush-hour traffic, packing a change of clothes, having a snack and some water on hand - that I forgot the most important thing, my violin! I was at least halfway there when I realized my very big problem, so I stopped and called some friends who lived closer to the gig. Thankfully someone was able to bring me a fiddle. Whew!

Have you ever forgotten your instrument for a lesson or an event that definitely required your instrument? If you are a teacher, have you had this happen with students? What did you do to solve the problem? Maybe you have never forgotten your instrument!

Please choose the answer that best describes your most memorable incident of forgetfulness, and then tell us about it in the comments.


September 6, 2019 at 08:09 PM · Before our quartet played at an amateur concert, our cellist realised he'd left his cello in his case! Of course it broke the tension...

September 6, 2019 at 09:09 PM · I have brought the wrong instrument, my viola when I needed my violin. Fortunately, my house was just 10 minutes away so I could sheepishly go home for the violin.

September 6, 2019 at 09:11 PM · Never the instrument. Have forgotten the music, the day/time of the rehearsal/performance, a planned get-together to play some chamber music, sometimes forgotten the directions to the venue... However, when I do remember, I always bring the instrument, even if I can't remember where I'm supposed to be going.

September 6, 2019 at 09:30 PM · Never my violin, but when I opened my case, oops no bow! Fortunately being only 10 minutes away, my husband kindly went back home for it! Soon after however, I bought a second bow and it's never even happened once that either one was left behind!

Musically yours, Elizabeth Dianne

September 6, 2019 at 10:15 PM · I said I forgot my instrument. But the truth is more subtle. I needed my viola and I brought my violin. So far, two votes for that one (Sue and me). Like her, I was able to go home and grab my viola and only missed 20 minutes of rehearsal.

BUT. I showed up for a community orchestra concert, and one of the violinists forgot her violin. She had driven an hour and a half. Well, I was playing violin too. But again, because I lived close to the venue, I was able to go home, grab my daughter's violin (she had just transitioned to full size), and return with about 10 minutes to spare.

Moral of the story: Live in a small town, and count on your friends.

PS three cheers for George Wells. I always enjoy whatever he writes.

September 6, 2019 at 11:46 PM · Although I haven't forgotten an instrument when needed - yet, bearing in mind my advancing years - I remember an occasion when my chamber orchestra was giving a concert in a village church well out in the country. After the concert one of our elderly lady violinists came out with her violin, placed it on the ground behind the car trunk, got distracted by a conversation, got into her car and happily drove off, leaving her violin sitting in the church car park.

Fortunately, an orchestral colleague saw what happened, picked up her violin, got into his car and chased her for 10-15 miles along winding dark country roads back to her house in town, pulling up behind her just as she arrived home. As she got out of her car to go round to open the trunk he had just enough time to get out of his car and present her with her violin! Refreshment indoors was then on the agenda.

September 7, 2019 at 02:14 AM · Because of performance anxiety, I forgot my viola the day of my first (and so far only) solo performance with orchestra! I actually made two trips back home: one for shoes, one for my viola and my orchestra music (because I was also principal violist of the orchestra). It ended up being ironically quite helpful: I was too busy trying to get back in time for the concert to worry about my solo performance.

September 7, 2019 at 03:26 AM · I’ve accidentally brought viola instead of violin! Oops.

September 7, 2019 at 04:03 AM · The viola-violin switch seems to be a common theme! :)

September 7, 2019 at 04:36 AM · I had a Christmas Eve gig at a large church with a nursery, so I was bringing my four-month-old daughter with me, planning to have her in the nursery while I played. I was so focused on packing the diaper bag and making sure that I had everything I needed for her that I was all the way across town and nearly at the church before realizing my violin was still at home. One frantic call to my husband later, he was on his way with my violin, arriving at the church with just minutes to spare.

Not my proudest moment.

September 7, 2019 at 04:52 AM · Last year I forgot my violin going home from Dartington Summer School. My wife and I were waiting for the train when I suddenly realized I had forgotten it. I went back and got it, and we took a later train.

I still don't understand how this could have happened: I had carried my violin around and played on it all week.

September 7, 2019 at 02:43 PM · On the way to a rehearsal (and as soloist!), when already in the car, something 'hit' my mind to turn around to check the back seat, and Wham!!! No violin case w/violin & bows there! In such a rush to be ahead of time to practise some passages in the violin concerto, I had actually forgotten to bring my violin case with me!! My partner looked shocked & graciously turned back to fetch a necessary violin to perform on! It was so dumb, I was a bit out of sorts, losing the extra warm up time one had planned for!!

Having learned such 'things' can happen, I try to slow it down since that incident to Calm my own pre - concert (& rehearsal) nerves! I guess we're all in such a whirl multi-tasking, we might forget to bring our heads if they weren't attached to the rest of ourselves because life is at such a fevered pitch!!

Btw, reading about the gentleman's (above Reply), mention of the Dartington Summer School, located a ways from London, memories of a Summer Artist in Residence @the Dartington

very fine Summer School, came rushing back bringing 'I wish' nostalgic smiles w/a touch of 'Those were the Day's' tears from long ago ~ How goes Dartington now, Bart Meijer?! Whilst at RCM on my initial 2 Year Fulbright, I so enjoyed a guest artist teaching residency & performance as a violin soloist at Dartington, & during your beautiful English Summer!

This Week end Vote Subject is 'Real' and enjoyable to read, hearing of other crazy instances of fellow musicians thus far!

Kudos to Violinist.com Editor, Laurie Niles ~

Elisabeth Matesky

September 7, 2019 at 03:14 PM · Frequently wrong instrument violin/viola perhaps I should get a five string

September 7, 2019 at 04:51 PM · There was a span of several years during which Strads and other valuable fiddles were being left in restaurants, cabs, trains, on the front porch, on the roof of a car, on a luggage cart ---- from which places they were sometimes returned, sometime stolen, sometimes just left by the roadside to be found and kept. No such incident seems to have happened lately; maybe people are being more careful?

September 7, 2019 at 04:52 PM · For a while I was leaving my viola on a wall hanger when I wasn't playing. It did make it easier to practice for 5-10 minutes when I had a spare moment. But then I was playing viola in church one Sunday morning and I showed up for the pre-service rehearsal without my viola. I had just grabbed the empty case on my way out the door and forgotten the instrument hanging on the wall. Fortunately I only live 5 minutes away so I could rush back and get it in time for the service! Since then I haven't used the wall hanger very much. It seems like asking for trouble.

September 7, 2019 at 06:05 PM · I grabbed my case to head for an opera, arrived at the hall and opened the case to find there was no violin inside. The music pocket was stuffed full of music so it felt heavy enough that I never noticed the lack of violin. A colleague who lived close to the hall brought over an instrument.. a very modest instrument.. which I performed on with considerable embarrassment and shame.

September 7, 2019 at 07:30 PM · I forgot either my violin or viola for taking home from the train after a concert. Fortunately everyone involved was honest to a sufficient degree and they had it at one of the stations. If there's a next time, things might not go so well!

September 7, 2019 at 07:34 PM · On the evening of our performance, my E string snapped. Our conductor had a friend who lived nearby who supplied me with a violin to use during the performance.

September 7, 2019 at 08:07 PM · I definitely forgot my instrument for a youth orchestra rehearsal later in the day after a concert (had gone home, taken everything out of car, changed, and went back) - to top it off I was sitting concertmaster! Luckily the conductor had his instrument with him and was understanding (I think he'd attended the concert earlier in the day). Fairly frequently though, I used to forget my shoulder rest, until I came to the conclusion that I should always completely pack my instrument cases when I close them.

September 7, 2019 at 08:30 PM · I once picked up one of my violins at the luthiers', which was just in for regular service. Ever in a hurry, I handed my credit card to the office manager, grabbed my Musafia case (which had all those familiar scuffs), and went home. Opened the case later that day, only to find there was no violin in the case. There was, however, a calm voicemail that my violin was still in the safe. Now I check.

September 8, 2019 at 12:22 AM · I promised to play a little something at a friend's 70th party on the other side of town. I was more than half way when I realized my violin wasn't with me. I decided not to return home for it, but was very disappointed to disappoint my friend.

September 8, 2019 at 03:52 AM · The only time I’ve arrived truly violinless was for a rehearsal, fortunately end of year soirée where playing was optional, but i’ve had lots of near misses.

Have forgotten either music or stand on several occasions

I’ve often wondered how the conversation would go with my teacher...

September 8, 2019 at 03:52 AM · Our concertmaster brought an empty case to rehearsal. By a strange stroke of luck, I had brought my double, because of an earlier rehearsal on violin (I play viola in that orchestra) so he did Swan Lake solos on my fiddle. Lovely to hear it for once.

September 8, 2019 at 12:08 PM · I disagree with your actions... loaning an instrument for the Lesson (performance is different consideration due to multiple people affected.) although I was upset at the time, as a student I showed up for a Lesson with my Viola (same teacher both fiddles) for a Violin Lesson. Teacher rejected me. This taught me a Very Valuable Lesson-be mindful. Over 50 years, and I’ve never mixed up which instrument to take to jobs.

September 8, 2019 at 01:04 PM · Last time, we forgot my son's violin at my parent place, and left to airport (to go home to another country), which is 3h drive from my parent's town. We realized it on the halfway. So we ordered a taxi- to pick it up and deliver to airport. Taxi had to take a coomercial high-way and pay extra to be on-time.

It costed us more than airplane tickets...

September 8, 2019 at 03:33 PM · I need reading glasses. Following the afternoon rehearsal, I went home to change into formal wear for the concert. Unfortunately, I forgot to transfer my glasses into my jacket pocket. The concert passed literally in a blur, with me busking/faking the fast passages and craning forward for the slow movements. My desk partner gave me some very strange looks.

September 9, 2019 at 12:18 AM · Never forgot the violin, but once I forgot the method (Suzuki). Luckily I had the Danny Boy sheet with me, so we started to study it.

Once a string broke on the way to the school, so I had to use a violin from the school.

September 9, 2019 at 12:18 AM · Never forgot the violin, but once I forgot the method (Suzuki). Luckily I had the Danny Boy sheet with me, so we started to study it.

Once a string broke on the way to the school, so I had to use a violin from the school.

September 9, 2019 at 03:18 AM · Once I forgot it for a rehearsal. I had agreed to purchase tickets for an event we all wanted to attend and hurried out of my house to purchase the tickets on the way. The ticketing system was down so i continued to rehearsal. Got there and realized no violin. It was a folk music rehearsal and I played another musician's mandolin instead as either way I was the melody for that night's music.

September 9, 2019 at 05:50 PM · My last theatre job was in the cast of "Singin' in the Rain" at Boulder Dinner Theatre. Where, in addition to my singing, acting and dancing duties I played violin. Backstage with a mic for "Fit as a Fiddle" and onstage with piano for "You are my lucky star". Wonderful cast, wonderful production, wonderful show. Well, not so wonderful one night when I forgot my violin. I lived too far away to go get it, so I called my ditzy roommate to come deliver it, begging. Which he did, taking his sweet time, and making me miss "fit as a fiddle". As you can guess, I was promptly called up to the producer's office, and told that would not be happening again! Which it didn't, I made sure. Cheers!

September 10, 2019 at 11:29 PM · I went to a bluegrass jam after a viola lesson, so I had both instruments along. Well, both cases, anyway. When I got to the bluegrass jam I found that I had no fiddle - so I jammed on my viola. That turned a few heads.

September 11, 2019 at 07:26 PM · In reply to Ms. Matesky, about Dartington: my fiancée and I went there for the first time in 1977. I remember many violin students whom I admired for their dedication and for the depth of their playing. The violin workshop was given by Roger Raphael, who was very kind, and the masterclass teacher was Ida Haendel. Both classes were well attended and had a large audience. In the orchestra we played Mozart's Jupiter symphony and English repertoire (Warlock, if memory serves me). In the evenings there were concerts by, among others, the Lindsay Quartet, James Galway, and Murray Perahia (who gave the piano master class).

Nowadays some things have changed. It has become more expensive to attend. There are far fewer young music students, and far more older people. The attendance for the instrumental courses (violin workshop and master class) is down to only a few people. There were only three in the violin workshop, which was given by Helena Jirikovska and Adela Stajnochrova, the violinists of the Skampa quartet, in residence during the week. Tuition was superb.

I remember a year when Simon Fischer gave both the workshop and the master class. A detailed account of my experience is here. There is also an impression written by Allison Packer.

To summarize, all is well for now, but the lack of appeal to the younger generation is worrisome.

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