Murphy's Law with violin,,,

January 24, 2007 at 09:50 PM · here is couple:

1. the bow has a higher tendency to slip off your hand if you are in a room with hardwood or tiled floor than with carpeted.

2. strings break much easier if there are no spares around, even G.

3. the moment you decide oh yes this is the violin i have been looking for is also the moment that you start to attention for one


Replies (85)

January 24, 2007 at 11:13 PM · That piece that you practiced the least is the first piece your teacher will ask to hear in your lesson.

January 24, 2007 at 11:27 PM · The passage you practice in the most detail is the one that you can't concentrate on in the concert and that falls apart.

January 25, 2007 at 12:07 AM · During housefires you can't remember where you put your violin.

January 25, 2007 at 02:07 PM · Pegs will slip or stick capriciously and spitefully.

At any given time a string or peg wants to stay in just a limited number of spots - and rarely the spot that puts it in tune.

Spare strings lying loosely in a case, much like socks in a dryer, will take any opportunity to make a break for it.

January 25, 2007 at 02:18 PM · Your most perfect excerpt will go totally "Deer In Headlights" at the audition.

January 25, 2007 at 02:42 PM · i would hate to plant this in someone's head as if playing solo live is not freaky enough...but with this cold, sniffy season, what do you do! if an urge to sneeze comes up?!

January 25, 2007 at 03:08 PM · LOL AL a similar question came to me the other day. What do violinists do when, in the middle of playing at a concert or whatever, they have to scratch there nose or something. Then again though there is something worse having to use the restroom or, LMAO fart.

January 25, 2007 at 03:31 PM · itchy nose, almost bearable, may be a little twitch by wrinkling the nose and hope the camera is not set at close-up. but, better not overdo it because you may get a sneeze out of that:)

the other end, dunno, my sympathy to the folks on the front rows.

but a sneeze?! that is a like a whole body convulsion. i can see a pianist trying to time it with a 2 hand major forte chords, but for a violinist? oiy oiy...

January 25, 2007 at 03:36 PM · I'm deathly afraid of aquiring a coughing fit in the middle of some very soft, intense slow movement.

January 25, 2007 at 03:34 PM · Apropos of Deer in the Headlights---

I had gone to Germany to audition for an opera house where I knew several people who had set up the audition. I discovered while there that I HATED being in Germany--rabbi's son--quelle surprise! I started with the Improvviso from Chenier and one page into it had a memory slip which prevented me from being able to finish the aria. Needless to say I didn't need to worry about having to live in Germany. My body saved me.

January 25, 2007 at 06:05 PM · These are hilarious!

January 25, 2007 at 06:34 PM · If we're talking about fear of things that could possibly go awry on stage, I suppose leading my list would be having to deal with a huge, horrible insect that might take too close an interest in my proceedings while playing an outdoor solo!

January 25, 2007 at 06:51 PM · The piece of music you need immediately is always at the bottom of the pile of music that's not in alphabetical order.

January 25, 2007 at 07:15 PM · Your shoulder rest slips off the violin just as you start your solo.

January 25, 2007 at 07:22 PM · As you start Ysaye Solo Sonata No.3 (Ballade), after tuning, you find that your A and D strings are not in tune with each other and brace yourself for those open D and A strings together with accents on the second page! It happened to me... And you can't stop!

January 25, 2007 at 08:39 PM · How about---I'm singing Don Carlo and there's a rather extended duet sequence with the baritone. There comes a point when I'm standing there looking at the baritone to go on with the next line so I can go on and then the conductor throws me my line--he'd sung and somehow it didn't register(I AM a tenor after all) and so I'm standing there like an idiot. Fortunately that was my only gaff for the night.

January 25, 2007 at 08:49 PM · the more difficult you think the piece is, the more difficult it is to play well.

the more easy you think the piece is, the more difficult it is to play well.

January 25, 2007 at 08:52 PM · you will nail the most difficult passage in the piece, only to play the first note of the easy part out of tune.

for some unknown reason, you will enter a moment too soon.

at precisely the moment when you must slow down to play a careful passage, your orchestra or your accompanist will decide to speed up.

your A string will suddenly slip a microtone out of tune. you will notice this only when you are due to play solo.

the piece of music you are searching for will not be found. if it is found, an important page will be missing. when you no longer need the piece, you will find two or more copies without trying.

January 25, 2007 at 09:04 PM · A cake of rosin will always break in half the first time you use it.

Your new teacher always demands a bowing technique that is the opposite of what you have learned and is by now second nature.

The most awkward fingering is always the most musical.

It is always easier for the audience than for the orchestra to follow the conductor's beat.

The oboist giving an "A" for tuning up has the widest vibrato of any oboist in the country.

Changing from upbow to downbow always looks funny.

No violin teacher is ever happy.

The fingernails on your left hand are trimmed either too long or too short to play well.

Your fingers always get warmed up just at the end of the piece.

January 25, 2007 at 09:19 PM · If there is a protrusion anywhere in the room, no matter how small, your fiddle will eventually find it.

January 25, 2007 at 09:36 PM · "No violin teacher is ever happy."

I'm happy, Sander. I'm just not ever completely satisfied.

January 25, 2007 at 09:38 PM · Emily: I stand corrected....

"No violin teacher is ever satisfied."

(But to their students, they don't look happy.)

:) Sandy

PS. I had 3 major teachers. All were demanding, and all were wonderful.

January 25, 2007 at 10:55 PM · I got something in my eye and started tearing during a college jury.... was distracted but kept going. The professors thought I was crying! :) Thankfully I actually played fairly well. ONe of those 'special' moments that do happen.

January 26, 2007 at 12:19 AM · All of my bow heads are apparently equipped with hidden magnets, which lead them unerringly to hit the music stand light. They are also like heat-seeking missles when it comes to hitting microphones - especially in quiet moments.

January 26, 2007 at 01:36 AM · Greetings,

the more you sweat in a concert the more likely you are to meet the girl of your dreams before you had a chance ot change,



January 26, 2007 at 01:45 AM · buri, ahh, the pheromone in the sweat is the precise reason why the girl presented herself:)

January 26, 2007 at 01:50 AM · Yuck!

January 26, 2007 at 02:04 AM · There's good days and bad days--I'm always ready but she routinely squeaks and squalls when she wishes.

January 26, 2007 at 02:22 AM · Al, Buri that is absolutely disgusting.

January 26, 2007 at 02:31 AM · Juanita,I meant it--it is one of the most volatile instruments I know. I always refer to it as 'she'.

January 26, 2007 at 02:45 AM · thank god there is another al to take the blame.

January 26, 2007 at 02:57 AM · Buri ddi ti.

January 26, 2007 at 03:52 AM · The easier the double stop, the likelier it is to be out of tune in performance.

(there's a certain truth to this, as if we decide something is "easy" we are less likely to practice it carefully... at least i am...)

January 26, 2007 at 04:20 PM · I'm not a violinist but I have seen this happen over & over again with players who switch, and I always LMAO b/c once they pick up the viola they have no idea what I'm laughing at:

The minute a violinist switches to viola, suddenly they can't find their music, they drop their pencil, their shoulder rest pops off, a peg goes "ZOINGGGG" and once they get tuned again they still can't find their music. Then they switch back to violin and all those problems vanish. It is HILARIOUS.

January 26, 2007 at 04:31 PM · You are at your best the furthest back you sit in the violin section.

January 26, 2007 at 05:03 PM · Sounds like the footbrawl position I used to play, Left Right Out.

I was an excellent footbrawler.


January 26, 2007 at 05:17 PM · Not sure if there's a Murphy's Law about this, but I recently saw an unfortunate lady in the middle of the first violin section break not one but TWO strings in the last movement of Beethoven 5!

January 26, 2007 at 10:09 PM · You always misplace the CD you borrowed from your violin teacher.

When the violin goes out of tune before a concert, each string goes out of tune equally so that they still sound perfect fifths.

The better you treat your book of Back Sonatas and Partitas, the more it starts to fall apart. Somehow it always manages to fall of the stand and get all folded.

January 26, 2007 at 09:27 PM · Well, one of my 2nd year Suzuki students managed to drop his bridge into the f-hole of his violin today. And, you know, if someone loan's a violin out to their younger cousin, it will be dropped and self-destruct in front of an entire class of beginners. For me, violins & cars do not mix. Two years ago, I was leaving one of my schools, and I sat my violin and a newly donated horrible ancient student violin next to my car and forgot to actually put them into the back seat. I backed up and said to myself "I don't remember gravel in this part of the parking lot" (followed by panic). The ancient horrible student violin was untouched, but my case had skid marks on it and my violin had a broken neck. The irony is that the violin is much better with its new neck and my former symphony job was actually still carrying insurance for me so I only had to pay the deductible. That violin is the one I got in grad school after my former violin and I were hit by a car while I attempted to cross the street.

January 26, 2007 at 09:48 PM · Oh, and you will always spill your cup of coffee on your excerpts.

January 26, 2007 at 10:33 PM · Greetings,

Patricia, the more expensibe or rae the usic s the or elikely it is to be the ain reicpent of a cup of coffee you kick over.



January 26, 2007 at 11:06 PM · decipher that! says buri:)

ps. buri, ever thought of writing a book on violin? if you do, swear with your blood that your remember this: write it the way you usually type. a hit for sure.

January 27, 2007 at 12:32 AM · for me it's during a performance that is going really well and I go "wow, this is going so good! I can just relax and enjoy it" and then what happens? Yep, something goes wrong.

February 2, 2007 at 06:21 PM · Kelsey's is right on! A phenomenon that took me 2 years to improve!

February 2, 2007 at 08:17 PM · That piece that you practiced the least is the first piece you will be asked to play when you are teaching a master class

"Pegs will slip or stick capriciously and spitefully." Yes!!! That did happen to me during a solo concert... lots of fun! NOT

"The piece of music you need immediately is always at the bottom of the pile of music that's not in alphabetical order." Yep something like that I can remember during a performance of the Bach AIR where the cellist could not find her part... I played it with viola and second violin.

"The fingernails on your left hand are trimmed either too long or too short to play well."

Don't you hate it when you have to play and your nails are getting in the way....eerrrrrrrr!


February 3, 2007 at 03:56 PM · My friend played his viola recital...and a peg slipped. He made up like 6 lines of the piece and at the cadenza he retuned.

and I know it's not directly with the violin, but I couldn't find my accompanist for my first recital...oh was the fault of the campus phone service, but I had to be moved from first to second on the program! hah.

February 3, 2007 at 06:05 PM · This isn't performance-related, but it is annoying: The better the fishing is and more beautiful and peaceful the river is, and the more bald eagles and herons there are, and the more salmon you see gliding silently past on their final journey upstream, and the longer the drive home is.......

The more likely your one student of the day will leave a message cancelling 12 minutes before their lesson, which you only discover having driven like a mad max and made it home with 30 seconds to

run in the house and get your fiddle out.

February 3, 2007 at 07:17 PM · Quick warm-up methods aren't.

February 4, 2007 at 05:21 PM · No matter the duration of your practice sessions, nor the amount of information you've absorbed. The next day you will find, that the nothing you'd believed was replaced by the something, is now nothing and that the something that once was is now gone.

This has me thinking that it's those damned aliens. First they steal my socks, then they put holes in the remaining ones and then they mad it so what I thought I'd already learned on the violin was suddenly gone. For crying out loud I couldn't even hold the bow properly!!! Thankfully however I'm fairly tenacious and what was misplace will be replaced, no confounded toxic green midget is going to get the best of me.

February 4, 2007 at 04:22 PM · Don't you just HATE those little gremlins? They like to steal my sheet music, make my strings go out of tune, and make me frustrated so my hands get tense and I can't concentrate. Damn little Martians, can't they go home already?

February 4, 2007 at 05:12 PM · The kid with the "perfect" grip, playing position, posture, fingering -you name it- at his or her first lesson will never do it quite as nicely again. Ever.

February 4, 2007 at 05:34 PM · Too true, Sue.

Another one about students: The quiet ones always surprise you.

February 5, 2007 at 01:40 PM · Your best left-hand position is always wrong for the piece you happen to be working on.

February 12, 2007 at 02:08 PM · When you play with a metronome, it always seems like it speeds up or slows down.

February 13, 2007 at 06:01 AM · If you need to bounce your bow it will remain on the string as if magnetically charged and if you must remain on the string the bow will spring to life.....hehe

February 13, 2007 at 10:34 AM · 'If you need to bounce your bow it will remain on the string as if magnetically charged'

or sometimes your normally well controlled bounce gets bigger and bigger until anyone sitting near you is in severe danger (and this is called positive feedback?!)

After reading the comments about sneezing earlier on, how about this for a worrying situation. The more nervous and well prepared you are, the greater the liklihood of having chattering teeth!

February 13, 2007 at 12:56 PM · You always achieve a perfect bouncing bow in a key legato passage.

February 13, 2007 at 06:15 PM · The tuning fork is always in the other violin case, or the other music case. It is always near you, but never readily at hand.

Then when it has been missing for a while and you thought it had gone forever, you find it again when the airport scanner detects a mysterious sharp metal object at the bottom of your handbag. And of course it has to be confiscated. (I did get it back though, thankfully there are some sane people at Bristol Airport)

June 15, 2009 at 10:36 PM ·

 My worst one is suddenly becoming musica dyslexica when my teacher puts a perfectly reasonable piece in front of me. I am thinking "she thinks I can't read music after all and she is right!!!

June 15, 2009 at 11:43 PM ·

The minute you are on stage and say in your head, gee  I'm afraid I sound "beginnish" is the minute when you actually start to sound "beginnish" !!!   : )



June 16, 2009 at 12:06 AM ·

To match with Buri's "hot" topic...

The more you think you are hot on stage, the more you actually start to get as red as a lobster in your face...  (at least you are a Latin or an African person, then nobody will notice it ; )



For the sweat thing, YUK (if you try to date like this) from me too!      Give your phone number for later if you are stuck in such a situation...   lol


June 16, 2009 at 09:38 AM ·

After having rented a violin for almost a year with no mishaps (and having the luck to be the first to play on that violin, thus the violin is in perfect condition), the day after you purchase it and it is finally your own, you will inevitably have some accident that will mark it forever.  Such as hitting the scroll on the edge of the music stand.

June 16, 2009 at 03:29 PM ·

(How nice to see this discussion revived; I forgot how clever you guys are.)

When everything comes together and you play something better than you ever have in your life, your teacher is less satisfied with anything else you play from then on.

When Oistrakh plays scales, it sounds like Beethoven. When you play Beethoven, it sounds like scales.

You always think you know how to count - until you try to play anything by Brahms.

Paganini's Principle: Perpetual motion isn't.

June 16, 2009 at 01:07 PM ·

When I lived in Houston Texas, 1986-88, I flew to Corpus Christi to visit my grandparents and brought my violin.  I neglected to loosen the bow hair and when I opened the case my bow looked like Yeosimite Sam's mustache!  True story!  Not Murphey's Law, just my negligance.... :^(

June 16, 2009 at 02:04 PM ·

I hate to love my violin to death - I just can't seems to stop wiping it. >: (

June 16, 2009 at 04:25 PM ·

if you practice your bowing your intonation will get worce.

if you practice intonation, your bowing will get worse.


the less you hear your own playing the worce you play, the more you hear it the less you want to play at all.


you are a perfect violinist when there is no one around.


if you dont care for the audience you will get nervous. if you care for the audience you will get nervous too. (there is a truth in this)


worlds shortest joke: solo-violist.



June 19, 2009 at 12:13 PM ·

If you watch your fingers, your bowing goes out of wack.  If you watch your bowing, your fingers go out of wack.  If you watch the music, they both go out of wack.

June 19, 2009 at 01:38 PM ·

 On the way out of the violin shop following a soundpost adjustment, you will bang your case against the door frame.

June 19, 2009 at 03:55 PM ·

When you're alone and listening to a recorded performance, you always correctly guess within 3 measures who the violinist is. When anyone else is in the room and you are showing off this auditory skill, you always guess the wrong violinist.

Somehow, the way I play Mozart always makes it sound as if he was the major precursor to Schoenberg.

June 19, 2009 at 05:09 PM ·

Violin can never be played perfectly. 

Violin can never be truly mastered

 As simple as that :)

June 21, 2009 at 04:23 AM ·

Murphey's law?

When I leave my spare bow at home, it seems that something strange happened to the rosin, and my primary bow sounds like $@#%

June 26, 2009 at 01:52 AM ·

Octaves aren't.

Is it me, or does almost every violinist (including many of the famous ones) sound ever so slightly flat?

June 26, 2009 at 03:57 AM ·

Greetings, yes, octaves do sound flat (or dead at least) if you play them perfectly in tune.  Thats why Heifetz would play them slightly out of tune on ocassion. Something silly to do with overtones.



June 26, 2009 at 04:36 AM ·

Your skirt falls to the floor while you are playing at your violin lesson.

You go to visit your former violin teacher after 25 years and are so nervous you can't even tune the violin properly or wiggle out a decent vibrato.


June 26, 2009 at 04:52 AM ·

You play in fortisimo and it makes glass fall off the table only to land on your foot.

You bite your tongue when your getting comfortable playing.

June 26, 2009 at 11:44 AM ·

Ah yes ... flat octives ... hmmmm.  I have my piano tuned with imperfect octives for that reason.  My piano tuner is a former cellist and knows how to tune for those annoying harmonics LOL.  The standard piano tuning always sounded out of tune to me.  When he's done, its like a breath of fresh air.

One of the other Stevens --

June 26, 2009 at 11:47 AM ·


I just realized that if you rearrange the letters of your last name it spells Vibrati LOL. 

June 27, 2009 at 12:24 PM ·

Auditions will run ahead of schedule, and the monitor will come get you two minutes after you took your beta blocker. 

June 27, 2009 at 02:53 PM ·

When you are nervous, you will invariably play everything that you normally play in-tune, out of tune, and everything that is normally out-of-tune, in-tune.....if you have intonation problems, this can be a good thing.  If your intonation is normally ok, well.....

June 27, 2009 at 10:11 PM ·

Your're in the middle of a solo and the prunes kick in!!!!

June 28, 2009 at 11:35 PM ·

Greetings, yes, octaves do sound flat (or dead at least) if you play them perfectly in tune.  Thats why Heifetz would play them slightly out of tune on ocassion. Something silly to do with overtones.

Some forgotten web page explained this to me in a way I could wrap my little brain around, so I will pass it on:

Two things that do not exist are an ideal string, that can bend any amount at any point, and an ideal bar, which cannot be bent at all.  An ideal bar would have no overtones; it would vibrate at some frequency as a unit.  An ideal string is what we think of when we think of how overtones work, but there, um, aren't any...

This becomes important when we think of, for example, the exact middle of the string, where the first (the octave) harmonic occurs.  The node, the part that does not vibrate, while the two halves are doing their first harmonic thing, is zero-sized in an ideal string, so the two halves are exactly one octave higher.

Unfortunately, a real string also acts a tiny bit like an ideal bar.  There is a finite-sized node not vibrating at the first harmonic frequency.  And that part gets subtracted from the string length, so that the two "halves" are not actually halves (octaves).  So in any real string, the first harmonic is slightly higher than an octave.  More so for stiffer strings, less so for more flexible strings.  This is one reason for winding metal strings.

So your strings are not even in tune with themselves.  Sigh...

June 29, 2009 at 04:43 PM ·

When playing in public while having a cold, the moment your adrenalin level decreases, your nose will start running, giving you something to make new adrenalin about.

Don't laugh, it happened to me!

June 29, 2009 at 08:15 PM ·


I can@t help feeling this thread has lost track of the semantics of Murphy`s law to some extent.  I has always assume dit was a kind of minor saying that my family typically explicated by noting thta if you drop a piece of toast spread with golden syrup then it will always fall that way down on the floor.I was a litlte surprised to see that there are actually whole tomes on just this one law available on Amazon.   Clearly academic instiutions have run out of useful things to say about prunes.

But hypothetically assuming the worst case scenario in Barts case for instance,  Murphy@s law might be that one of his family has a running nose virus,  and one running bowels. Bart travels with them in a small car to a cocnert wondering which one he is going to catch.  He gets on stage and halways through the opening of the Brahms he discovers he has both....

Anyway, hereare some aspects to chew on



June 30, 2009 at 12:18 AM ·

Bart could have been playing and the prunes kick in?  oh, I said something like that in an earlier post. Sorry!

June 30, 2009 at 01:25 AM ·

h e may have been having trouble with coles law.



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