Renting a violin in Rome (or any foreign city that you might be visiting for a week)

October 16, 2007 at 04:27 PM · I'm going to be spending a week in Rome in November and was considering the possibility of renting an instrument from the shop of Claude Lebet. Although my family and I will be staying at one place the entire week, with an 18 hour layover in Paris (yay!) on the return home, I am reluctant to cart my violin around so much, particularly since we will take public transportation and/or walk to our overnight destinations (and I have an 8 yr old to watch after). (My concerns are not so much security as the cumbersome nature of it.)

Has anyone rented an instrument in the foreign city they are staying in? Has anyone ever been to Claude Lebet's shop (in the Piazza de' Ricci)? The shop, apparently well-regarded, is in an 18th(?) century palazzo, so it would be fun to go check it out, regardless, but I'm a bit shy in foreign countries where I speak the language at the level of a preschool child. So, renting a violin would be a fun way to get myself into the shop and spend some time there.

Would appreciate anyone's comments, advice and/or musings on their own similar experience.


Replies (26)

October 16, 2007 at 04:55 PM · Renting violins is not a commom practice in Italy (and perhaps in Europe in General), I think.

October 16, 2007 at 07:10 PM · Yeah, I agree. Instrument rentals are fairly uncommon in Europe, and especially for a week...Why would you bother renting an instrument for such period of time...It sounds like it would cost you a fortune in insurance and fees. Plus you'll be on vacation. Are you really going to...actually practice? One week without practice is nothing, so just enjoy your vacation. And if you really want to bring an instrument, get an extra cheap piece of crap from Ebay and bring it with you. It will cost you less than renting an instrument, and you won't be devastated if the airline doesn't allow you to carry it on board! Also, the cheapo cases these things come with are generally extra light, so it won't be that bad to carry it around while visiting Paris. Finally, when you're back from your trip, you can always use the cheap violin to break in your new sets of strings!

October 17, 2007 at 01:58 AM · Thanks for the replies, Luis and Bernardo. I know, it was a rather strange idea, but that's what this forum is for, yes? Asking those rather strange questions. : ) And then I saw that Claude Lebet's shop did advertise rentals starting at 50 euros. But it still is, most likely, money better spent elsewhere (even if they'd do it for just a week, which they might not).

As for not practicing for a week, no way, dude! I'm the kind of person who clings to that little routine of practice even when I travel, and it really pays off for me (if only to clear my head for a few minutes, and keep my fingertips at the right toughness). But good call, Bernardo, on a "junk" violin, which actually I do have, and have used on past trips (my first violin from 3 years ago, a battered Chinese fiddle that doesn't sound as bad as it looks). And, you're right, it has a light case. Just don't relish the lugging it around, in addition to the other bags/stuff. But hey. Last time we traveled overseas, to London for a week, two years ago (and yes, I brought the Chinese fiddle), my son was six. He's eight now - time to put him to work, heh heh.

Thanks for your comments and help!

October 17, 2007 at 02:22 AM · Terez, I relate to your practice dedication--obviously.... And I also relate to your not wanting to lug things around while traveling--been there.

But it came to mind, that if it were me, I'd take the Chinese box, and do some kind of festival or something that I can't make myself do at home--like arpeggios or something.

While I work them in my program for example, a week focus on really focused shifting and so forth would really be a nice thing to have under my belt.

Besides, who would want to be caught up in learning new material while enjoying such a beautiful country. Let me carry your bags! ;).

October 17, 2007 at 03:24 AM · I am sorry Terez, but surely the Sistine Chapel and the Louvre beat out Sevcik Op. 8 any day...

Leave the violin at home, give it a rest, and enjoy your vacation. It won't be a major set back for you musically or technically while you see the sights, eat the food, and drink the wine. Enjoy your trip. The violin will be waiting for you when you get back.

October 17, 2007 at 03:39 AM · So go to five or six different shops, one per day, and play their violins for an hour. No fees, and you don't even have to carry it around with you.

October 17, 2007 at 04:37 AM · Greetings,

BTW your chances of getting to see the Last Supper are about zero. Since that stupid book came out tour groups have been buying up all the tickets six months in advance.

But don`t worry- they weren`t eating prunes.



October 17, 2007 at 06:35 AM · ignorant of the consequences for their actions,the would-be renters of the violin entered the violin shoppe completely in a state of fugue,for they had no knowledge that prunish additives were included in their entree before attending an Event @ La Scala.

everything suddenly broke loose,once they entered the shoppe--seams were split and wooden corner blocks suddenly became unglued---to the dismay of all concerned.

perspective clients were kindly suggested to vent elsewhere-hence they departed,violinless...

on the return trip to their hostel,the participants concerned the dialogue w/less intrusive communicative correspondences and subsequently engaged in a quite serious discussion of metronomes available to rent within the area.

then,all was well within the village...

October 17, 2007 at 06:58 AM · yes, I think that`s what happened...

October 17, 2007 at 12:51 PM · >BTW your chances of getting to see the Last Supper are about zero.

Yes, especially since I'm going to Rome and not Milan. : )

But I'll have you know, I'm bringing a bag of prunes with me to Italy. (I'm not joking here, either. Five a day for life, that's my motto...)

October 17, 2007 at 12:54 PM · >everything suddenly broke loose...

Oh, dear. Following the prunish additives in the entrees? I'm not sure I want to know what "everything" entails. (Or would that be 'entrails'?)

And there you are in Italy, no public facilities within a one-mile radius. Ah, Italy...

October 17, 2007 at 01:02 PM · Lebet often lends to my techer a wonderful Petrus II Guarneri for concerts and recordings. If you need more detailed information I can ask him.

He makes very wonderful violins and well-done copies and I'm thinking seriously to buy a Lebet.

Ah as for me I solve the problem with all-bran

October 17, 2007 at 01:31 PM · I don't think you'll be able to carry prunes--and a lighter--on an airplane.

October 17, 2007 at 01:31 PM · I think Bob is on to something...Put on your best pair of shoes, go to a fancy violin shop, and announce you are shopping for an upgrade in the six-figure range. So you can practice for free, play some really nice fiddles, and go on your merry way. Genius!

October 17, 2007 at 02:20 PM · Rodolfo Marchini is quite good "liutaio" in Rome, he is a dealer and makes new instruments too. But I would say the truth.

October 17, 2007 at 04:53 PM · >I think Bob is on to something...Put on your best pair of shoes, go to a fancy violin shop, and announce you are shopping for an upgrade in the six-figure range. So you can practice for free, play some really nice fiddles, and go on your merry way.

Okay, I'll tell my alter ego to do that. The more timid Terez will stay behind and practice on the cheap fiddle she ended up bringing. I mean, the "try violins in different shops each day" is fine if you're an experienced violinist (or cheerfully un-self-conscious), but as a beginner-ish student, I'm not about to grandly announce that I'd like to play one of their violins (even a four-figure ranged one) and then creak my way through my scales/arpeggios/fiddle tunes. That, in truth, was one of the things I hated most about violin shopping last year. I don't like doing my practice time in public. (Which makes my "Artist Debut at DFW" blog post - archived in May or June of this year - all the more ironic to me.)

And, just in case anyone is now worrying that I'm going to eschew Rome and its sights in favor of huddling in a dark hotel room and fiddling away during daylight hours, let me assure you that "practice time" comes after it's too dark to tour, the museums have closed, and I've got 45 minutes to kill before cocktail hour, during which time my son will fret about there being no computer there for him and what's he supposed to do nooooooooowwwwwww? Cue for Mom to widen eyes in surprise, mention she needs to go practice the violin for a spell, in the privacy of the bedroom (I got us an apartment, not a hotel room, for this very reason) and would Dad please entertain son and/or otherwise threaten him?

It's not just a fiddle. It's an escape route. Zen in a box. And it's coming with me.

But thanks, everyone, for your suggestions here. Great fun to read (and, er... reject)!

October 18, 2007 at 01:32 AM · Well,when you go on a great expedition--as you are,with your family--there will be no time to practice the violin amidst the myriad of experiences which should become enfolded,right before your eyes.

After all,it's a family affair---so just try to have the very best time you can w/the people you love the most !

October 18, 2007 at 06:51 AM · I rented a violin in Paris for about a year but don't know if it would have been possible to rent for a short stint...but if you are traveling for a few days or a week, just enjoy the vacation!

October 18, 2007 at 01:48 PM · Thanks for your comments, everyone! I'll tell you what, though - my violin teacher is going to be SO distraught to hear that all of you have advised me not to bring my violin along when I travel.

Which I'm still going to do, BTW. I know who I am and what I need at the end of a day of stimulus. (Albert understands... don't you? Be my advocate here!)

October 18, 2007 at 10:49 PM · Greetings,

I think you are approaching the situation from a somewhat negative angle. I suggets you treat this as the most marvellous elarnign opprotunity. Have you ever really sat down with a piec eof music and just learnt it si well in hour head and in body movements that you just picke dit up and played it. The firts tiem I ever did that as a teenager I was on a boring family holiday and I worked for a couple of hours a day on Adios Montanas Mios by Sarasate and just turned up at a lesson and played it and it went perfectly. That just blew me away. I had no ideas such a thing was possible. If you cna develop this skill it will really help you get into the idea that the isntruemnt is just a tool, albeit a very sexy one, and it is what goe son in heart mind and body that produces the end result,



October 20, 2007 at 02:30 AM · My brother just started as a tour guide in Rome. So maybe you'll be going on one of his tours!

December 15, 2007 at 07:37 AM · Some of my students go out of town for a week or two on business or to visit family (in the U.S.). They've asked me whether they can rent a violin for just a week or two. I don't think so, but I'd appreciate advice from someone who knows more about the issue than I do.

December 15, 2007 at 08:02 AM · I think it's a region by region kind of thing. I had a friend who rented one in Switzerland once.

December 15, 2007 at 05:25 PM · You may think this is nutz, but why not just bring the music with you and mental practice? I mean actually hold up your air violin, start with scales, being careful about where you are in your "bow" and working for smooth bowings and even string crossings. Then move on to your pieces, trying to hear the notes in your mind as you go through the playing motions. Try to "hear" the notes you normally play slightly out of tune and work on fixing those mentally. If it's hard for you to hear "yourself" in your mind, tape yourself in advance and put yourself on your iPod--then you can listen to YOU and fix yourself mentally.

I find that mental practicing actually *does* help fix many things, and it certainly makes you aware of what you are (or are not) doing. And it's harder than you think to bow beautifully in the air. You can hold a pencil (or a sawed-off violin bow; I have a couple of them that I use for students' exercises) and go to town. Of course people probably won't be throwing money into your air case, but at least you won't be lugging around a violin at the Louvre. (Which, BTW, I tried to do three weeks ago and they ABSOLUTELY DID NOT allow it. I had to check it, which was very distressing, as my violin is neither Chinese nor eBay purchased.)

Good luck!

December 16, 2007 at 03:54 PM · Kristin – actually, the trip has come and gone, I brought the violin and had a rather entertaining experience rise out of it. (I blogged about it HERE.) But you do have a solid argument for the “mental practice,” except that in my case, part of the reason I like to bring the violin is to keep my fingertips at the right level of callus and the finger stretching/flexibility easy. And, I like hearing the music. Carrying the violin, fortunately, was problem-free, with a new backpack case cover I’d bought. Your story of having to check your violin in the Louvre is a horror! I guess it makes sense, that people have to check all bags, but seems to me they should have let you carry the violin around, out of its case, at the least. Poor you! Poor violin!

December 16, 2007 at 04:05 PM · >Some of my students go out of town for a week or two on business or to visit family (in the U.S.). They've asked me whether they can rent a violin for just a week or two. I don't think so, but I'd appreciate advice from someone who knows more about the issue than I do.

Pauline, when I started playing the violin 2 1/2 years ago, I had no idea how long I'd be renting a violin or taking lessons, as the whole endeavor had simply been to do research for my novel. (In truth, I'd been thinking "four or five lessons and I will have learned all I need to know." Ha. Funny, that. How about four or five decades?!)

Anyway, I walked in, said I wanted to rent a violin, the clerk asked how long, I said I didn't know, he said, okay, let's start with a month and that will be $20 plus a credit card number to serve as the deposit (or whatever). And that was it. I was out the door in ten minutes with a violin paid up for a month. Now, some of those violins can be junky, but mine turned out to be quite okay. So, what's to stop your students from doing the same, paying for a month and then using it for just a week? Why would any store be against that, if they had the inventory on hand, not being used?

Granted, if you have students who are unwilling to play on "just any violin," all bets are off. That would be a different issue, then. It's an interesting experience playing on a cheap fiddle after you've gotten used to the subtle nuances of your everyday fiddle, but it has certainly been worth it for me, particularly when I return home to the "real" violin and play on it for the first time. Ah, what a feeling! : )

Tell you what, I'm going to ask the guys at the music store where I take my lesson about this. I'll let you know what they say.

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