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The Weekend Vote weekend vote: Have you ever broken a bow?

June 8, 2008 at 7:52 PM


Not to dredge up any painful memories, not to fan your worst fears, happens.

Mostly with kids, but sometimes we adults take a spill down the steps or have an accident. (Okay, that was a fiddle, but it can't have been too good for the bow, either!)

I've actually broken two bows, both when I was a pre-adolescent. The first, I was holding my fiddle an bow in the "proper' rest position while climbing the stairs after a performance, wearing a kind of dress shoe that my 12-year-old feet were not adept in. Actually, I'm still not so adept in heels! At any rate, the steps, the bow hanging straight down, the awkward shoes = disaster. I tripped on my bow and....SNAP! These days I tell my students to hold their bows up when walking with them.

My very next bow underwent a similar fate. I turned to the bow that had come with a very, very old violin that had been in my grandmother's attic. That bow proved rather cheap; I was tightening it one day, and SNAP! The tip simply snapped off.

Whew. Not pleasant to think of those big potholes in Memory Lane. Have you ever broken a bow?

From Patricia Baser
Posted on June 8, 2008 at 9:11 PM
I was standing in a lesson with the tip of my bow about an inch from the ground. Somehow the bow slipped out of my hand, fell, and broke at the tip.
From Kelsey Z.
Posted on June 8, 2008 at 10:02 PM
The only time my bow has ever ended up broken was not my fault! I had it in for some work in Vancouver and needed it back in time for a wedding I was supposed to be playing at in Calgary a couple of weeks later. The place whole-heartedly assured me it would be there. Two days before, still no bow had shown up in the mail system. My dad phoned and they said they'd put it in the mail immedietly so it would be there the next day. It wasn't there the next day, another phone call. So the day I'm supposed to leave for Calgary we go to the mail and it says we have a package - yahoo! I have a bow for my wedding gig!! - not yahoo. We go there and I'm presented with one of those metal music stand boxes. It had the appearance of having been bent in half. And to my horror when I opened the box, it truly had been bent in half and my bow was nothing but a pile of splinters and hair.
From Bernadette Hawes
Posted on June 8, 2008 at 10:32 PM
Thankfully, not yet. Though I had a scare once when I dropped it and wasn't sure how it landed! Since I use a half decent bow, I would rather not go there.
In fact, I would rather not be thinking about this before bed-time. Don't want nightmares.

Kelsey: nightmare scenario. My heart goes out to you.

From Ben Clapton
Posted on June 8, 2008 at 10:53 PM
I broke someone else's bow. It was an orchestra rehearsal and he just left his bow hanging towards the floor in my path - I didn't see it and then suddenly *snap* - ooh bugger. Thankfully the luthier that I frequent also had a son in the orchestra so I was able to give it to him that day, and get it back to the player on monday, at which point I found out that the bow was his birthday gift which he had received that day.

As such, I've always told my students how to hold their instruments correctly.

From Charles Yoh
Posted on June 8, 2008 at 10:54 PM
I dropped my bow on stage at an orchestra rehearsal. What makes this story particularly painful was that I had bought it just 2 months previously. It was the best bow that I had used up to that point. It broke at the tip. Fortunately I was able to get it fixed. It still worked well, but it was not completely the same afterwards.
From Anne Horvath
Posted on June 8, 2008 at 11:13 PM
Anyone remember the brown boating shoes with the white soles that were so popular in the 80's? When I was 13, during a particularly boring orchestra rehearsal, I was tapping the tip of my bow onto the tip of my boating shoe, and the bow suddenly decided to spectacularly splinter down the shaft into two pieces, half the bow length. I swear, I was only gently tapping! (Why I was wearing boating shoes, I am not sure. I don't boat). It was an inexpensive student bow.

Occasionally, I do get to experience the "break the good bow" dream. Bleh.

From Aurora Mendez
Posted on June 9, 2008 at 12:24 AM
I recently broke a bow for the first time. I was studying Tchaikovsky's Danse Espagnole (from Swan Lake) and my bow broke on the first chord, I played with all my might, while very distracted by I don't know what. The point broke off with the hairs still attached, and the stick stayed with the frog, it was a FREAK accident. Now, I take more precaution with my Bow attacks. Lol
From Emily Grossman
Posted on June 9, 2008 at 12:54 AM
I vaguely remember dropping a bow down the center of a winding staircase...
From Natasha Marsalli
Posted on June 9, 2008 at 1:07 AM
Just before a lesson with a prospective teacher at CIM, I was warming up when the little wooden piece at the tip fell out and the hairs exploded all over the place! Luckily, I spotted the teacher and, after a hurried introduction, I explained what happened and he lent me one of his to warm up on (after knowing me less than 30 sec...what a guy!) and made some calls to get my bow fixed in under an hour (I had another prospective lesson in MI the next day...). So stressful!
From Kristin Mortenson
Posted on June 9, 2008 at 2:51 AM
OK, you're going to think I'm some sort of Black Widow, but I've actually broken three. Yes, I said it.

The first one was when I was 13. We had just bought a nice (for me) Swiss bow from Gene Bearden. Then my youth orchestra went on tour to Albuquerque which was thousands of feet higher elevation than my home in San Antonio. In the middle of an orchestra rehearsal, the bow just snapped! Apparently the hair was shortening as I was playing, and I didn't notice! In tears, I called my parents, who then called Bearden, and he replaced it. No questions asked. Whew!

The second bow that broke was a Dotschkail. Lovely gold-mounted, buffalo-horned stick that I'd bought from a violinist friend of my mom's--former SASO member. Reputable, honest woman. Again, I was chugging away in an orchestra rehearsal (playing long notes, no less), and the tip popped. No excuse, no reason. I was able to get it fixed with a spline repair, but was never satisfied with how it felt. I also was worried that it would open again. (It didn't) So, with oodles of full disclosure, I sold it on eBay, to a very happy buyer.

The last (yes, I say LAST. I'm not going to have this happen again!) bow that broke was an old French bow that I'd had since I was about 11. It was made by August Falisse. It also snapped in an orchestra rehearsal. To be fair, I believe there were a couple of hairline fractures from an overly-enthusiastic violin-case-removal when I was younger. Not completely sure. Anyway, it broke. I've since had it glued and it resides in the Spare Bow holder in my daughter's violin case.

Sorry you asked???

From The Weekend Vote
Posted on June 9, 2008 at 4:55 AM
Wow, it's a pretty high percentage!
From Bonny Buckley
Posted on June 9, 2008 at 5:33 AM
One of my most embarrassing moments, for sure, was knocking my stand partner's bow off the stand and yup, "snap" went the bow, and there I was, totally my fault. Of course it was an accident, but I have never seemed to outgrow my clumsiness. Are you going to poll for the percentage of v people who have broken their instruments too? : ) lol
From Steffen Zeichner
Posted on June 9, 2008 at 5:34 AM
Yep ;x Just a few months ago I returned to Indiana University from Winter break at my home in warm Florida.. I had just had the bow rehaired while I was there, and had the man put on some extra hair to account for the inevitable added tension of a less humid, far colder environment. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough, and while practicing the tip of the bow just snapped off :(

It really wasn't cost effective to repair that bow, so now I sport a Coda diamond, which besides being a fantastic bow, I won't have any issues with changing environments with it :)

From Mary McQuaid
Posted on June 9, 2008 at 5:38 AM
I recently broke a bow and called the store where I bought it, Shimokura Violin in Tokyo. They fixed it for a nominal fee, and I was surprised to see how nice it looked. They stained the mended part to match the color perfectly. Better yet, the sound is just as nice as before. Now I am using it much more carefully than before. This experience has taught me a valuable lesson on how important it is to treat a musical instrument with gratitude and care. When I think of the wood from a living tree that was sacrificed so that I could have my bow, I really feel like apologizing for my carelessness.
May peace prevail on Earth.
From Peter Kent
Posted on June 9, 2008 at 6:07 AM
Just remember to play first fiddle when they pass out parts to Il Signor Bruschino..or use your Coda/graphite/marching bow, to avoid the much dreaded arco col legno a Manhassetto sections.
From Karen Sternkopf
Posted on June 9, 2008 at 6:18 AM
I was a young teen and my sister and I were playing duets in the bedroom. We took a break and when I came back and sat on the bed...well guess what! Next thing I know my mom is angrily asking how I could sit on the "good cherry bow". I have bad aim?
From Pauline Lerner
Posted on June 9, 2008 at 6:26 AM
Yes, I have broken a bow, fortunately not a very good one. I'm too embarrassed to give the details. I'm relieved that quite a few others have broken a bow, too.
From Corey Washbourne
Posted on June 9, 2008 at 7:38 AM
I've not broken a bow... YET. But one of these days it's going to happen. There's a ceiling fan in the room I practise in. At the moment, during winter, it's not in operation; however, I am six feet tall, it is perhaps less than a foot above my head and I hit it at least once or twice a week with a vigourous up-bow. When summer comes around, it'll be a recipe for disaster!
From Joshua Hong
Posted on June 9, 2008 at 8:21 AM
Dropped it on a hard wood floor, snapped near the tip. Two grand, down the drain...
From Eléonore Darmon
Posted on June 9, 2008 at 9:10 AM
During a performance... Brahms Concerto... a bit shocking !
I was playing with this "Husson" bow for 7 years, and I was on the frog of the bow when it broke up on the tip, don't know why... The fatal passage is before the 2nd orchestra tutti... la laaa, la sib siiiib, sib SI [KLAK], si do, do do#, do# ré, ré ré#, ré# Mi... I still have the recording and we can hear that terrible noise [klak!]... I continued a few bars on the wood of the bow whereas the hair were drooping, then I stopped and asked for a bow in the hall...
From Luis Dias
Posted on June 9, 2008 at 10:27 AM
Dropped mine on a tiled floor in church at age 11 or so. Haven't borken one after that. I've still got the bow, but the balance is now off-kilter, although I still use it.
From Liana Goldsmith
Posted on June 9, 2008 at 11:52 AM
My little sister had been learning the cello for a couple of years at this point. She had left her bow on my mother's waterbed. I did not see it on the dark coloured comforter upon entering the room. I then sat on the edge of my mothers bed, sinking to the bottom and snapping my sister's bow! oops!

Apart from that bow, I had never seen a bow break before - until I began teaching violin at a primary school where the bows have plenty of patches and various repairs. Since then, I have seen plenty of bows "mysteriously" breaking while playing, whilst in rest position, among other things...

From Annette Brower
Posted on June 9, 2008 at 1:33 PM
I have not broken a bow. However, I have 6 broken bows from students in the "coffin" (piano bench). All in fun, just the sight of it causes most students to be extra careful.LOL.
From Carolyn Berger
Posted on June 9, 2008 at 2:04 PM
I managed to drop and break my bow 3 days before my junior recital...not good. Although insurance took care of replacing it (and that was about 5 years ago), my current bow still isn't a match for what I used to have. :(
From Virginia Jones
Posted on June 9, 2008 at 3:12 PM
Never swoosh your bow through the air like a windshield wiper, at least not quickly. I tell my students that because it can break the bow. One day it actually happened a student wore off steam by quickly swishing the bow and the whole head of the tip broke right off. I think it was a cheap bow, but this can happen to any bow.

P.S. More hair in a bow would result in more tension to the stick, not less.

From Royce Faina
Posted on June 9, 2008 at 3:14 PM
In the early '80's I forgot to lose the tension on my Pernambuco bow, flew from Houston to Corpus Christi and even with the violin in the over head compartment the hairs snapped like dry spaghetti. As for breaking the 'bow' itself, so far not yet.
From Royce Faina
Posted on June 9, 2008 at 3:24 PM
Oh By The Way, regarding my bow in my post above; Sometime in it's life it has had three tip repairs, and a winding of twine/wire on the shaft towards the tip. Perhaps the winding is a repair such as snapped in two or two? or maybe to add weight to the tip? it's beautifully ballanced though, and the winding is very well done.
From Laurie Niles
Posted on June 9, 2008 at 4:16 PM
This is very therapeutic, I didn't know I'd have so much company in Brokenbowland! Indeed, I'll have to do a poll next time on broken fiddles.
From Bethany Morris
Posted on June 9, 2008 at 6:04 PM
I have broken THREE bows. One I fell on, one was dropped, and one just snapped while I was rosining it one day. Needless to say, I'm very, very grateful for homeowner's insurance, and I now play on my indestructible CodaBow nine times out of ten.
From Becky Jenkinson
Posted on June 9, 2008 at 6:25 PM
I have broken two bows. One was broken when I was a teenager, very angry at my younger (by one year) sister, and I (gasp!) hit her with it. Terrible. It serves now to remind me of my temper. The second incident broke my heart. I was just standing in the dining room with the bow held down, and it slipped. I was crushed to see the tip had broken. It was my favorite bow, and a good one also! I didn't think it was possible to get it fixed, but lo and behold, the master bow "fixer" at the Soundpost in Toronto was able to put a "spline" in it, and glue it and it is stronger than every. Very slight weight difference, but hey, I have my favorite bow back!!! I am much more careful now...didn't realize how easy it is to break a bow!!
From david finch
Posted on June 9, 2008 at 5:53 PM
Although I was trained classically I started playing in 'fiddle contests' when I was 9. A few years later I was at a National Contest and was 2nd after the first round. I made a small error on the the last tune and was annoyed at myself. I played the tune well past the Red light (time limit) and after exiting the stage on the way down the back stairs I threw my bow and it hit a medal door and exploded into about 10 pieces! It was a $400 bow and my parents made me buy the next one. I've since tamed my temper.
From Debra Wade
Posted on June 9, 2008 at 6:36 PM
Never broke a bow - but does it count if a dog ATE my bow?

Two years ago, I was baby-sitting a year old sweet but undisciplined Rottweiler for a non-musical college friend of mine for the weekend. I used to keep my "performance" violin and bow in my open case on a chair. I came home from the grocery store and my bow and violin had been transformed into kindling all over my living room.

If I'd had a gun at that moment - she would have been a dead dog. Needless to say, I'm using my less expensive violin again until I find my new "love".

From Mazz Swift-Camlet
Posted on June 9, 2008 at 6:52 PM
I had (and still have) a short temper. I will never forget, when I went from fiberglass to wood - I didn't know what the difference was and when I got frustrated with a technique I slammed the bow on the ground (which embarrassingly enough I did frequently) and my wood bow shattered in a million pieces. I was shocked.

so we took it to be fixed and the bow maker (I think it was Salchow in NYC but this was already almost 20 years ago so I'm not sure)lent me a bow while he was taking a look at mine. I remember I was practicing at home the next day when we got the call, "looks like he was able to fix it" my Mom said to me. I sighed with relief and relaxed my shoulders - but a little too much and the borrowed bow tapped the floor and broke at the tip. 2 bows in 2 (or 3) days! I wanted to die!!

From Josh Cohen
Posted on June 9, 2008 at 8:20 PM
Given the price of bows, it can be a very painful experience! I once very carefully rested my Hill bow on (what I thought was) a very stable ledge by my chair on a rising stage. Somehow (I go through this to this day, even though it was over 10 years ago!) the bow fell into a gap in the stage and dropped about 15 feet onto a cement floor. The only damage was a chipped frog (tortoise shell). I've never repaired that chip just to remind me of that miraculous day! (And to think before I lay my bow down ANYWHERE!
From Wally Yu
Posted on June 9, 2008 at 8:26 PM
I happened to me once when I was like 9 years old....
From Josh Cohen
Posted on June 9, 2008 at 8:25 PM
Recently I went out and bought (on eBay, I believe) a box of 10 dirt cheap bows. I'll use these (or a carbon fiber bow) to play at outdoor rock concerts, or in other compromising situations (like when I want to sword fight with a guitarist!)
From Laurie Niles
Posted on June 9, 2008 at 10:39 PM
OMG, "The dog ate my bow!"
From Eitan Silkoff
Posted on June 10, 2008 at 1:27 AM
My dog chewed up my bow! and I have broken the ivory tips a number of times. WHY ARE THEY SO EXPENSIVE!? lol
From Martin Seitz
Posted on June 10, 2008 at 7:32 AM
The tip of my bow broke while practising the Bruch concerto. It was quite a shock because it is a very good bow.
The curious thing is - for all who don't speak german - that if something has got a "Bruch" it means that it's broken.
Fortunately it was very cheap to repair :-)
From Mungo Carstairs
Posted on June 10, 2008 at 11:33 AM
Yes - 2 weeks ago - dropped tip down on wooden floor - still bowless - anyone know any pizzicato sonatas? I've tried a nice (Bazin?) bow at £650 but hoping to spend less, more coming on approval tomorrow...
From Efrem Violin
Posted on June 10, 2008 at 9:31 PM
ME? No, I have never broken a bow. BUT, my father, Mischa, playing at the Coconut Grove, with Nat King Cole, back in the early 60's, broke the tip of my favorite Kittle, (he had a few), when he tapped his bow on the stand, OUCH!
It was fixed, that you could not see or hear it. Only we knew it, until he sold it, and revealed the "injury", sometime, in the very early eighties (1980's), I believe.
He passed away, on a vacation, Sept.3, 1984!
From Hannah Wright
Posted on June 11, 2008 at 3:43 PM
it happened twice...:(
From Hope Paolotto
Posted on June 12, 2008 at 4:32 AM
So, I read all of the responses...No one is a hazardous to bows as I am!!!
I have broken...wait for it...7 bows! Not a misprint!! I have genuinely broken 7 bows! The FIRST 3 BOWS as a teenager in my bedroom with a rather short ceiling and a very large ceiling fan. The FOURTH I dropped on the stage during a high school orchestra concert. The FIFTH broke clean about an inch away from the tip while I was putting rosin on it. I was horrified b/c I had just bought the bow the week prior. Turns out the bow was defective and it was replaced by the shop owner. The SIXTH was one of my students' bow that was in really bad condition. I tightened it, pulled it across the ding and pop! And finally the SEVENTH bow I broke while setting up a practice session for a quartet. I set my violin and my bow down (on the floor, btw) to move some chairs and then stepped back to grab the instrument. I didn't realize how close I was and SNAP, I stepped right on the bow. The only bow I own now is a Codabow Classic and I will never own a wood bow again!

PS-Corey---Watch out for those ceiling fans!! Practice in another room!

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