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The Weekend Vote weekend vote: Has your equipment ever broken down, right before going on stage?

March 11, 2011 at 6:50 PM

This week one of our favorite fiddlers Mark O'Connor shared the story of his chin rest cracking up and needing super glue, right before he went on stage to play the premiere of his Improvised Violin Concerto last Sunday.


It made me think of other panicky equipment-fail moments -- I bet we have some interesting stories among us!

I can think of a few…A major equipment fail happened for me at a very young age at a youth symphony concert. It was between the dress rehearsal and concert, and all the orchestra members were walking, with instruments, up a set of steps to take our break. I tripped over my bow, and the stick snapped in two. Not even super glue could save me from that one!

I also remember other people's equipment fails; for example, a candidate at an audition for the Boulder Philharmonic broke a string while warming up. She ran from dressing room to dressing room in a panic, "Do you have an extra 'A'?" I seem to recall that she found one, she may have even won the job!

Have you had any equipment fails that happened right before a performance? Please share your stories below in the comments section.

From Trevor Jennings
Posted on March 12, 2011 at 7:58 PM

In a church carol concert that was being broadcast live on local radio I was sitting in the first desk, the conductor had her baton raised to start, the red broadcasting light was on, and my E broke halfway along the peg. All our cases and stuff were locked in a secure room a couple of floors up, so I just had to make do with what I had. It worked out all right; the only people who saw what happened were the conductor (a violinist herself) and my desk partner.

From Elizabeth Kilpatrick
Posted on March 12, 2011 at 10:00 PM

 Although I haven't had something break right before going on stage, I did get grease or something on a small section of my bow hair towards the tip once. I noticed it when i was already on stage tuning for a recital. It was to late to get some rosin. It made for a difficult recital! 

From Tanaeya McCoy
Posted on March 13, 2011 at 2:19 AM

Yeah. It's happening to me right now, because I broke an e string (no new ones) and I have a recital tomorrow.

From Pauline Lerner
Posted on March 13, 2011 at 3:41 AM

One of my students, a fourth grader, lost her shoulder rest somewhere between the initial meet up place and the stage just before the concert.  Her mother saw her with her violin onstage, crying because she thought that she wouldn't be able to play in the concert.  Another kid picked up the shoulder rest, not knowing what it was, and gave it to the orchestra teacher, who, in turn, gave it to my student.  My student played in the concert, and everyone was happy.

Like several other people, I once broke my E string while tuning up backstage before a concert, and I did not have a spare.  Another fiddler lent me her extra E string.  Since then, I have always carried spares.

The following incident was extreme. I know a little girl who broke her arm the day before the concert and couldn't play.  She was so disappointed.

From Thomas Cooper
Posted on March 13, 2011 at 5:12 AM

A couple months ago, I had to play a concert in town, so I decided to play the first movement of Bruch no. 1, and the first movement of the Bach Double with a friend.

On the first two chords of the Bruch the WOOD of my bow snapped. Don't ask me how. It just did.

From Deborah McCann
Posted on March 13, 2011 at 12:38 PM

I was putting rosin on my bow, and the hair just went limp over the cake.  Looked down and the tip had a bad diagonal break.  A flaw in the wood decided to make itself known.  I was in a pit, and the conductor just looked at me.

From Tobias Seyb
Posted on March 13, 2011 at 1:58 PM

On the first two chords of the Bruch the WOOD of my bow snapped.

Bruch is not only the name of the composer, but also a german word. "Bruch" means "break" or "crack", an so a double "Bruch" happened to your poor bow.

From Laurie Niles
Posted on March 14, 2011 at 2:37 AM

...and if you haven't seen this one, it takes the cake!

From Charlie Gibbs
Posted on March 17, 2011 at 5:10 PM

Not a concert, but while we were unpacking at the beginning of a multi-day fiddle workshop - before anyone had played a note - someone dropped her bow and broke the tip.  Fortunately someone had a spare bow to lend her, but we all felt terrible for her.

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