Cat and Violin

April 11, 2008 at 04:34 PM · I don’t usually let my cats in my practice room, but I often think about them when I practice because doing so helped me with bowing, fingering and even phrasing.

This evening, Oscar Da-Mao (the largest and sweetest male cat of the three in our house) sneaked into my practice room and lying in front of with his belly up and loudly purred while I was practicing. I reached out with my toes to rub his belly while keep practicing. All of a sudden, my Viotti sounded so gentle and sweet!

Does your cat help with you practicing or playing? If you don’t have a cat, what other living creatures or tangible objects around you helped improving your technique or musicality or both?

Replies (36)

April 11, 2008 at 04:49 PM · My cat will wake up from his sleep, sit up tall and give me dirty looks when i'm out of tune.

April 11, 2008 at 05:34 PM · I'm convinced I must be improving because normally my cat (Walter) heads under the bed the minute I start playing, but lately he actually will sleep near the living room where I play.

But my dog (Chubby) is my most ardent supporter - no matter how good or bad I sound he just curls up near my feet and watches me play.

April 11, 2008 at 05:52 PM · I had a flutist friend whose cat would jump up and try to grab it while she was playing. Not very helpful, I think!

April 11, 2008 at 06:12 PM · My dog Duffy goes over and takes up her "guard the door" night time post, and the cats, Spot and Mom Cat try to get in the case. I have to put it up on the bookcase to keep them out. Apparantly the dog thinks we'll be attacked (I'm new at this, but not that bad!) and the cats are afraid we're going to move again. The cats are 19 and 17 yrs and we've only moved twice in that time, but I guess it made a big impression...

April 11, 2008 at 06:42 PM · Black Cat loves the high notes. The higher, the better. Artificial harmonics send her into gleeful hysterics. She rubs legs, purrs, rolls around, and makes happy mews. This has been going on since she was tiny. (Black Cat is a little strange).

Grey Cat loves to sit in cases. He is not picky, but seems to enjoy cello cases most of all.

I don't know how much their presence helps or hinders. Practicing can get terribly lonely, so it is nice to have the company.

April 11, 2008 at 07:06 PM · yixi, i love that cat's name,,,you need to explain so that others won't confuse Mao with the Chairman!

my friend named his dog: dee--oh---gee.:)

April 11, 2008 at 10:42 PM · LOL Al! Da-Mao means big cat in mandarin. My very first Canadian cat was called Mao Zhuxi or sometimes Chairman Miao, but he was not a nice cat so I soon renamed it Fo (Buddha), but then he turned somewhat mysterious and never allowed any petting or cuddling. What’s in a name, eh?

April 11, 2008 at 10:48 PM · My friend's dog howls the whole time she practices. It would a bit annoying to me but she's gotten used to it.

April 11, 2008 at 11:07 PM · We have four cats. Only one shows any interest when I practice. When I start playing, Bobby comes upstairs and sits at my feet, rubs against my legs, purrs and chirps. I'm hoping that means he enjoys it, and it's not a request to 'please turn that thing off.'

April 11, 2008 at 11:12 PM · My metronome helps me practice. It's called Doctor Beat because that is what it says on the front of it. Oh...and a nice snifter of Cognac helps me practice also. I usually end up practicing pretty late, after the kids have gone down so I also use one of those big, solid metal practice mutes. I named it "Big honkin'", as in "'re waking the kids up...put on that 'big honkin' practice mute."

April 11, 2008 at 10:57 PM · I have a lean XXL striped cat that has become quite the critic. He is always laying around near by during practice and will roll on his back and stretch whenever playing above sixth position. Will also twitch his ears at any scratch, squeek or out of tune note. I think he was hired by my teacher...

April 12, 2008 at 12:43 AM · I am the sole benefactor of a cat that was originally a wild street cat on an island of Malaysia, picked up from an open sewer as a tiny kitten. She fitted easily inside a coffee mug. Due to her tiny original size her name is 'Kid'. Somehow with great luck the authorities allowed her to come to Australia, after quarantine.

I am also the servant of a Cape Baron goose, who goes by the name of 'Bubba'. I often tell Bubba she would make a fine trumpet player.

April 12, 2008 at 12:58 AM · one of my dogs always finds me to lie on the bed while I practice, and only howls with high notes. the puppy howls a LOT, and not in a happy way! sigh... : )

April 12, 2008 at 03:46 AM · Hacker (yes, that is the cat's name), will wait with anticipation until I take my viola out of the case then jump up and curl himself up in it. He fills the case body and his head hangs over the edge. This says alot since my viola is a 16". He will stay there and listen to my entire practice session, then move himself out slowly to make room for my viola when I'm done.

Tommy on the other hand, will run and hide under my bed when I practice.

April 12, 2008 at 07:00 AM · Greetings,

my cat, Po. loathes the violin with such astonishing depth of rage I am surprise dhe hasn`t attacke dit. Sibnce I taught him to express his feelings using a wide variety of gestures and facial expressions he has learnt to signal vomiting as I appraoch the case , after which he runs out the room.



April 12, 2008 at 12:29 PM · My Great Dane loves to lie at my feet when I practise either the cello or the violin. when I practise cadenzas he tries to hide his head underneath the bed.But he has never left the room. my cat runs away when I go into my room to practise and does not come back till I stop.

April 12, 2008 at 04:50 PM · Buri, my cat hates the violin too. All I have to do is open the case and she starts whining.

April 12, 2008 at 05:18 PM · Buri, how do you teach your kitty to express himself? And what does he do when he wants to tell you he wants to puke? That's so funny!

What's with cats and cases, Wolfgang want to sleep in it, but due to his size, it won't fit.

April 12, 2008 at 05:22 PM · Mara and Buri, might your cats be totally frustrated for not having the right fingers to play the violin? Let them try the piano see if they can beat this one:

April 13, 2008 at 01:36 AM · My cat will perk her ears up if I play out of intonation.

April 15, 2008 at 12:57 AM · The only animals that ever enhanced my violin playing were my teachers. (Just kidding - all of my teachers were great.)

:) Sandy

April 15, 2008 at 01:51 AM · For me,cats seem to be abhorrent

creatures from hell,

so very sneaky

and totally unwilling

to any emotion.

just mal-contents to an

unspecified interpretation

of basic nuance.

totally uneffected by a dead-on A major key.

April 15, 2008 at 02:34 AM · The first cat I ever had would curl up in my case when I practiced. I adopted my 2nd cat and at first she was shocked when I played, not having grown up with the violin. But she loves it now, as she knows it means I'm staying home for at least awhile. :) She curls up in a chair right next to where I'm playing, and I could almost swear it increases my concentration.

April 15, 2008 at 02:58 AM · I had a dog for a while and he used to howl when I practiced, or else would just go and hide somewhere else. I'm told that's not uncommon for dogs, although they seem to prefer the viola. What I have noticed, in my peripheral vision while practicing, is that there are lots of birds landing on the branches of the pear tree outside my window. I wonder if it's just coincidence... It does make me feel good, however!!

April 15, 2008 at 03:43 AM · Birds are just about as musical as any animals can get. Last spring for the first time I saw a pair of seagulls doing the mating dance outside the window while I was practicing. I’m sure it had something to do with Bach’s Sarabanda in Partita #2.

April 15, 2008 at 04:02 AM · The cats I catch are now A strings.

May 10, 2008 at 12:00 AM · My cat has a phobia of cellos. My friend came over with his cello one day and my cat came up and sniffed at it. My friend started playing and my cat jumped and ran and hid in the basement.

May 10, 2008 at 12:12 AM · Your cat probably thought it'd eat him. Cellos are merely fat violins. :)

Just kidding.

I like to practice when there is a piano nearby, so when I'm frustrated with how my lack of technique effects my phrasing I can stop and play my piece on the piano instead to hear what I want it to sound like.

Three cheers for the piano. Even if Perlman looks down one it. :\

May 10, 2008 at 12:15 AM ·

May 10, 2008 at 12:20 AM · Hmm I don't know how helpful it is, but the cats always like to sleep in my case, so I have to vacum it out... we had a Great white Pyrenese (dog) that howled like no other when I played, he would smash his head to the floor and cover his ears with his paws, that was always a little discouraging... :P

May 10, 2008 at 01:24 AM · These are all hilarious! My cat is not nearly so responsive/entertaining but he will occasionally leap into the case and curl up and I must say, he looks very comfortable and happy there.

May 10, 2008 at 05:52 PM · When I practice, my cat wanders in, curls up comfortably on the couch, score in hand (that is, score in paw), and with a pencil in the other hand (er, paw), watches and listens to me carefully. He then scribbles little comments (which I have yet to be able to decipher). Although I was able to sort of read one of them once. It said, "When you play, me owww." I'm still not exactly sure what that means, but I'm working on it.

:) Sandy

May 10, 2008 at 05:59 PM · LOL!My husband frequently has to apologize for our cat paw prints on his students' assignments that he was marking. One day he received a student paper with corners crewed by possibly a pet bird. He wrote the comment on the margin of the student paper: “Hungry?” If I were him, I'd give the student a bonus point for the collaborative effort:)

May 10, 2008 at 08:40 PM · Sander, you've obviously got yourself a descendant of Hoffmann's Kater Murr...

May 11, 2008 at 04:14 AM · I don't have a cat - but my parrot lets me know when I've reached a certain volume. She has a particular screechy sound - I call it her "jungle" call - that she does when I'm playing loudly up high on the E string. She also tends to take a bath when my quartet rehearses and we play loud rhythmic stuff. It's pretty hilarious.

During tonight's rehearsal she added in her imitation of my metronome in a passage we had been playing with the metronome initially. We had turned the box off, but Mini (the bird) thought we still needed help!

The dog just sleeps and gives me that particular exasperated sigh.


May 12, 2008 at 08:18 AM · sometimes while playing my piano I hear all those sunbirds outside. I wonder.

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