The Nightmare

February 6, 2009 at 04:14 AM ·

Have you guys ever had a violin related nightmare that just stuck with you all week or for an extremely long time?

A couple of days ago, I had a nightmare that I woke up and began to practice, but to my surprise I sounded like I did in my first violin lesson.  My fingers wouldn't work.  All my hard work of relaxing my tense shoulders was undone.  And, I could not read the notes on the sheet music.  It was all a blur.

Fully awake, I got up to practice my violin at 3 a.m. in the morning (the dog started howling).  I prayed that the dream wasn't true.  Well, of course, you all can guess that the dream was just a dream.  However, two days later, I still approach practice with a lurking fear....

Replies (42)

February 6, 2009 at 05:20 AM ·


I don`t usually have nightmares, but people from this list have actually started ot turn up in my dreams.   That is kind of scary....



February 6, 2009 at 06:06 AM ·

There was a guy, a violist. He was really bad. I mean, viola bad. Could just scratch out twinkle. Well, not even. I'm patronizing him. So he has this bizarre dream: he's playing in the Chicago Symphony. Problem is, HES NOT DREAMING! HE IS IN THE CHICAGO SYMPHONY! OH THE HUMANITY!

February 6, 2009 at 06:23 AM ·

Look out for Mendy, Scott. I hope you can run fast.

February 6, 2009 at 02:26 PM ·

The only musical nightmares I've had lately involved 80's soft rock.  I awaken to my own original 80's soft rock compositions, and I can't get them out of my head.

My typical nightmares lately involve road races where I can't seem to get to the starting line and I missed the start time, and I can't find my running shoes, and where are my clothes?!?

That, and nightmares about bingeing on large portions of licorice.

February 6, 2009 at 11:48 AM ·

I have a reocurring dream in which my violin has gone missing, whether it is stolen or left behind or miss placed, the entire dream is of me searching for it.

Recently I had dream in which I was playing the violin...................

It seems to be working...........thinking about playing the violin when I go to bed.

February 6, 2009 at 03:37 PM ·

I had a nightmare that I left my violin in my office at work, and the cleaning crew found it and took turns playiing with it. They carelessly broke my bow and just stuck it back in the case. When I got to work the next day and discovered the damage, I went to my boss and complained. He was unsympathetic, took the cleaning crew's side.

I woke up heart pounding and drenched in sweat. Trouble is, I really HAD left my violin at work (not out in plain sight - had hidden it in a cabinet - but still!). My one-hour commute never felt longer than it did that day. As soon as I arrived at my office I opened the case and found to my great relief that the nightmare had not come true.

February 6, 2009 at 08:11 PM ·

I always dream that my violin was smashed into pieces, or the varnish melted, or the whole shape of the violin distorted.

Got used to it eventually, but still weird to have such dreams.

February 6, 2009 at 08:36 PM ·

You all realise  these dreams have interpretations, don't you?  I certainly would think twice before posting a dream if I didn't know what it meant.  You could be telling the world about your secret obsessions with poop or something.

February 6, 2009 at 09:21 PM ·

My dream which happen last nite [maybe caused by concert night the next day] was about my violin looking perfectly fine. But during performence volume decrease and startled making weird noises. Later I would go behind stage changing all the strings but it would get worse and then the varnish on the violin came off and the wood was rough and my violin just ceased to make a sound.

February 6, 2009 at 09:29 PM ·

Oh Emily, no words can describe you.


February 6, 2009 at 09:35 PM ·

I like to string Emily's last sentences together to make a new story.

February 6, 2009 at 09:46 PM ·

There are a lot of so-called dream interpreters on the web. Just look at what they say about these violin dreams. Which, by the way is the title of Arnold Steinhardt's last book in which a violin dream figures prominently.

My recurring nightmare, other than the one in which I suddenly come to consciousness onstage in an orchestra with a cello between my knees, is "Weird Supermarket",  in which the meat section contains slabs of shrink-wrapped instrument parts on styrofoam trays. The instruments pieces are creepily flesh-like, the flute and saxophone hunks reminiscent of octopus arms. The violin hunks are darker, and the cutaway sections look slabs of steak. The bridges droop sidewise and the strings are pressed flat by the saran wrap.

I could not find this one in an online dream interpreter.

February 6, 2009 at 09:49 PM ·

Get a puppy Stephen...... a Schitt zu.....

February 6, 2009 at 10:14 PM ·

E., your subconscious is talking to you about the things you consider necessities vs. luxuries.  Were it not a disturbing dream to you, the meaning would be different.

I sometimes have nightmares for the purpose of waking me up on time.  They're like the worst, brief,  little short stories you can imagine, only there to lead up to the end, which startles me awake; with only an hour to get across town, say.

I've had a recurring dream or two which were messages to me to discover some answers I needed.  When I did the research, the dreams stopped.  The first dream I only "got" in retrospect I think, and my subconscious went on and did me the favor of prompting the actual research, out of the blue,  since I didn't  understand the dream at the time.


February 6, 2009 at 10:52 PM ·

E. Smith,  your dream represents your uneasiness in shopping for violins as though picking out a steak, when really it should be more like falling in love.  Options have been fragmented like butchered meat, and you need to find a particular "cut" for the right price, only you don't know just what that is.

That's just my take on it.  (At least it doesn't symbolize the need for a bowel movement, like having dreams of bingeing on ropes of licorice.) 

February 6, 2009 at 10:55 PM ·

PS I composed another soft love rock song in my sleep last night.  Lyrics and everything. 

February 6, 2009 at 10:55 PM ·

Jim, I posted my dream because I think it's fascinating and creepy, and the image its memory evokes is terrific; I would love to have the means to recreate it in a photograph. But I wouldn't be so quick to ascribe meaning to it. Dream-images are unconnected fragments that we stitch together with narrative and embroider into memory during our waking lives.

February 7, 2009 at 12:28 AM ·

Emily, how can violin and obsession with poop be related? However, it was so funny!  We are as bad as Mozart...  to laught about this but can't change musicians...


February 7, 2009 at 01:27 AM ·

when you play the Nutcracker every Christmas year in year out it was bound to happen....during the Chinese Tea Dance, the printed notes began marching to the right of the page and proceeded to actually fall off the printed music and onto the floor...

Yes, it was only a dream...

February 7, 2009 at 01:43 AM ·

I'd like to have the same nightmare as Charles Pikler that Scott described, with the same reality upon awakening :) 

Run Scott, run!  ;)

February 7, 2009 at 02:22 AM ·

"how can violin and obsession with poop be related? "

I was under the impression that violinists ate a lot of prunes.....


My nightmare with the violin actually starts after I wake up......I'll dream that I am playing a song beautifully.  When I wake up, the feeling of playing(and physical feeling of playing) is still there, so I go to my violin, pick it up, and.....nope.  Not even playing wonderfully in dreams can make my 1 year of playing sound decent.  sigh

February 7, 2009 at 02:28 AM ·

prunes are meant only for prudes.......

February 7, 2009 at 02:55 AM ·

I've certainly had a selection of violin related nightmares:

1) Missing violin - looking everywhere and not able to find it.

2) Violin thrown in a garbage truck just as the crusher thing is coming down to compact the garbage

3) Evil man picks up violin and smashes it against a wall...  I REALLY did wake up in a panic after this one.

I often have music related dreams but apart from the above they don't tend to be nigntmares.  My SCARIEST nightmare is that of falling from a very high building or plane.  Sometimes I actually have the feeling of "falling" out of my own body back onto the bed as I awake in panic even though I am safely curled up under my duvet.   Very disconcerting, any dream interpreters on here?!

By the way Jasmine - that's a very cute puppy dog you have as your profile photo - is he your "best friend?"   My old dog used to sleep just in that position too - we were told it was because he had greyhound/whippet blood in him. 

February 7, 2009 at 02:55 AM ·

 "I often have music related dreams but apart from the above they don't tend to be nigntmares.  My SCARIEST nightmare is that of falling from a very high building or plane.  Sometimes I actually have the feeling of "falling" out of my own body back onto the bed as I awake in panic even though I am safely curled up under my duvet.   Very disconcerting, any dream interpreters on here?!"

Rosalind, this is the "hypnic jerk" that Fiona Apple famously sings about in her song, "Oh Well".

February 7, 2009 at 06:19 AM ·

WOW! This thread took off.

"By the way Jasmine - that's a very cute puppy dog you have as your profile photo - is he your "best friend?"   My old dog used to sleep just in that position too - we were told it was because he had greyhound/whippet blood in him."

Hey Rosalind, yes, that's Xheus.  He's my little brother!  He's going through the adolescence phase right now.  You know, he lies on his back all day, farts, talks back, and eats you out of house and home.  But I love him and wouldn't trade him for the world.  By the way, he is so jealous of my violin.  He purposefully interrupts me while I am practicing.  So, my nightmare might become a reality if Xheus doesn't leave me alone!!  You can look at my blog to see Xheus from puppyhood to now.


February 7, 2009 at 12:19 PM ·

I like how you spelled Zeus as X.h.e.u.s. Clever!

Maestra Grossman! If you don't have a poster/picture of the Peanuts Character "Lucy" sitting in her box saying that the, "doctor-is-In" Get one! ;)

February 7, 2009 at 06:54 PM ·

February 7, 2009 at 04:27 PM ·

Yeah, Royce.  We were trying to be different.  My brother and I were inspired by his Dragon Ball Z charatcers.  A lot of them have zzzz, strong sounding names.

February 7, 2009 at 06:43 PM ·

Okay, you guys cursed me.  Last night I dreamed I was shopping for concert black pants before symphony rehearsal.  I found a real cute pair, but I was hoping to fit into a smaller size because it was the only size they had.  Luckily, they were stretchy.  Meanwhile, a snooty young man tripped over my belongings while walking past and made a snide comment, lips curled into a sneer.  He would have been a handsome man, were it not for the sneer.

I had just enough time to run over to rehearsal, but I was cutting it really close.  As I walked down the hallway, I saw the same snooty young man carrying a cello.  I guess we had a new cellist.  He had no problem going about as if he owned the place, while I searched for my seat and found none.  The rest of the dream carried on like musical chairs, with me dragging a chair out of the corner and someone else sitting in it before I could grab my fiddle.

February 7, 2009 at 08:47 PM ·

E., that's what it would mean if I had the dream, anyway.  I once had a tarot reader say to me she couldn't tell anyone anything they didn't already know.   Which makes her a bit useless maybe :)


February 9, 2009 at 02:50 AM ·

I never had any violin-related nightmares before until last night:

In the dream I was holding my violin in my hand and found out that the belly has some kind of soft rot on it and the wood is so weak and fragile that it is flaking off. Then I looked at the fingerboard and somebody sliced 1/4 of it.

It made me freak out as it felt very real...


February 9, 2009 at 04:57 AM ·

Mine is more of a semi-concious dream than a nightmare.

I think about getting old and arthritic, and not being able to get my left hand in position..... but for some reason, I keep trying and trying- just getting more frustrated as I go.


Emily, this one is easy to interpret; since I keep trying and trying, I must have a fear of prunes!

February 9, 2009 at 11:46 AM ·

And remember Roland.........

      the Prunes Shall always be with you..............


Ohboy won-ton Cantaloppie

February 9, 2009 at 02:36 PM ·


ugh, had one last night… I was at a concert for what I think was Vengerov Virtuosi but Vengerov looked more like the piano soloist I just did a gig with. I was an audience member for the first half and somehow got recruited to play Vivaldi with the group in the second half, but for the second half the performers went to the top of a tower… or a church to play from there. When I got there I realized I had forgotten my violin in the concert hall so I went back for it, but couldn’t  remember where the hall was because my surrounding became a mix of 2 different places and I spent the rest of the evening wandering the streets.
For me it’s always a variation of the same theme. In my student days, high-pressure/performance situations were exams, so my nightmares would be something along the lines of missing/  showing up late for/ being unprepared for/ not being able to find the exam. Now it’s the same for concerts

February 9, 2009 at 04:22 PM ·

Last night, I had a dream that i was in New york and i left my violin in a cab. This could have to do with Philipe Quint, as the nutcase actually DID this. But it was quite annoying searching the whole city for my violin... 

February 11, 2009 at 01:58 PM ·

Last night I dreamed that my daughter's violin suddenly swelled to the size of a small cello. It had outgrown its case and sat precariously on a kitchen chair, like a guest in the house.The wood had stretched and thinned as it swelled, so it was now fragile as an eggshell. Your thumbs would go through its back if you picked it up.

February 11, 2009 at 03:18 PM ·

My occasional violin nightmares (like so many already described) invariably have to do damage to the instrument. Sometimes it's inflicted damage (I step on it); sometimes it just falls apart while I'm trying to play it.

As distressing, in a different way, are the occasional dreams in which I'm playing really, really well -- an exhilarating sensation like flying as I rip through some incredibly difficult piece, my fingers and bow arm just doing everything perfectly on their own. The deflating feeling when I wake up and realize it was just a dream is, momentarily, as distressing as an honest-to-goodness nightmare.

February 11, 2009 at 06:42 PM ·

Very funny stories. I wanted to share some information about nightmares and "power dreams". Power dreams are where you are the President, or can play violin much better than in real life for example.Years ago I participated in a clinical study for sleep disorders related to recurring nightmares and power type dreams. The only criteria was they had to be repeating dreams. What I learned is that sometimes we have them due to some anxiety that is happening in our lives. Take for example the anxiety of smashing your instrument in the dumpster or forgetting what to play, or where the concert hall is. That type of thing. Usually, after the anxiety is resolved during our waking hours, the dreams end. The reason most often however we have dreams that reoccur is that our bodies like the adrenaline we get from the nightmare. So it becomes less about the dream and more about the body getting hooked on the fear rush, (flight/fright stuff). We get the rush and then feel like we are really living and try to recreate that by repeating the dreams or similar fear/power dreams.

Believe it or not, the Doc that did the study taught us to visualize the dream, prior to going to sleep and ending it in a rather boring way. For example, you loose the violin but find it near the door where you put it. Then you go to bed and the issue is resolved.  Strange but true. I have no nightmares that repeat now after having variations on the same dream for many years. Sleep walking based upon a similar idea but more serious because you can fall or burn your house down. My nightmares were pretty tame when compared to other people in the study. Mine were at least a bit humorous. Some people in the group jumped through windows while they were asleep and were seriously injured. They had no recollection of it at all and their family members would tell these wild stories. Their families had to follow them around or they would go outside in the middle of winter, completely unaware. Imagine sleep walking and trying to play violin or any kind of music...That would be something to see...and hear!

February 12, 2009 at 07:01 AM ·

Most interesting dream last night (after watching Pirates of the Caribbean)...

Cops stand around a dead body, hypothesizing and investigating what I can only expect to be a grisly murder.  Officer Johnny Depp walks over to me (don't know why I was there), and asks me if I saw anything.  I reply, "My violin is missing."  Johnny Depp gives me that look, you know, the Jack Sparrow one that says, "You're off your rocker."

"You can talk to our robbery department, but could you show a little sensitivity to the more important situation over there," Johnny frowned, pointing his pen towards the scene of the crime.  

"Freeze!" I jerked out of my weird state and looked in the direction that Johnny was now running.  I got up, and curiosity pulled me after his Deppness. 

I followed him into a dark alley.  There he was aiming his gun at--


my violin who was holding a knife, dripping with fresh blood....




Needless to say, I will approach practice with some caution tomorrow.



February 12, 2009 at 03:54 PM ·

Oh, Jasmine! I've been giggling for several minutes over your last post... you might need to bribe your instrument with a really nice set of strings, and perhaps a bottle of very effective cleaner/polish...

February 12, 2009 at 05:02 PM ·

I've had dreams about:

1. Smashing my violin to pieces against the wall.

2. Walking on stage to perform with an orchestra but I have no idea how to play the piece.

3. Being asked to perform as soloist in the orchestra but instead of putting me in front they put me backstage to play and expecting me to project.

4. Everyone can play the violin except for me, I mean everyone!

All these have been nightmares... except for #1

February 12, 2009 at 06:41 PM ·

lol Marina smashing your violin against a wall is a good dream?  What about sitting on it "accidentally" and then call your teacher to cancel your lesson and have a free weekend?  In this economical crises I think that we should all take the Oistrakh method (he really did this!): cut the hair of your bow to have a few days off is less expensive than destroting the whole instrument!


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