The worst sensation!

February 17, 2011 at 08:16 PM ·

The question is, what is the worst sensation/feeling you have experienced during your violin career/life?

I have a few to list. To start this thread off, I'll offer this as an example:

"One" of the worst feelings I have experienced is the sensation of a popping string!
ps: The feeling gets amplified when it happens right after you got eager to practice

Looking forward to your creative responses!


Replies (22)

February 17, 2011 at 09:42 PM ·

Yes you're right

I hate putting on the E string for the first time when it's new and hearing the whole violin crack...

That makes me sweat and I'm so afraid it will burst.  I keep my face far away...   (It's psychological, no one has ever died from receiving a E string in the face from what I know)




Also when someone unexpected arrives home and "pls pls play" and you're stiff and not at all warmed up.   I love to play for people but NOT on the go and unexpectedly. (that's because my hands are naturally freezing and I can't hardly play if I'm asked unexpectedly)


Of course, the classical one:  when you've played badly at an event and you would rather go home or...cry and that you have to fake to be happy and almost pleased with your performance when people congratulate you.  (otherwise you will get called pessimist and negative and no one wants that reputation.  It's a major turnoff for people.  It's just a matter of beeing professionnal and respectful to these people who sometimes really thinks it went well because they don't know you and think that was... your best) 




February 17, 2011 at 11:00 PM ·

I've got a good one!  In high school, during my first concert as concertmaster for the youth symphony, I jumped the gun on entering during the first piece.  We were playing the Handel Water Music.  I came in with the french horns in the first measure (one measure early).  I remember the conductor looking at me.  I was so embarassed.  Everyone knew I had screwed up!  I hope no one has to experience that.

February 17, 2011 at 11:18 PM ·

I stopped by a music store one day, and although I am generally very shy about playing for others, I decided to see how the violins compared against mine. I looked at a couple student violins, and asked to play one. The shopkeeper tuned it and handed it to me.

I could not keep in tune! I played horribly! After a few attempts, I gave up and handed it back. I think it may have been the tuning, but I am sure my nerves didn't help.

February 17, 2011 at 11:24 PM ·

I would add the thoughts of "Oh my, this is the 75th time I'm playing a crooked bow stroke in front of my teacher" and "Why do my limbs stop working when I'm playing in front of anyone?" which I believe are almost  inevitable in the first few years...

February 18, 2011 at 01:47 AM ·

 There's also that ominous sensation of knowing you overstretched something somewhere in your body in the process of playing.

February 18, 2011 at 04:21 AM ·

What about breaking your bow?  (Shudder.)

February 18, 2011 at 05:58 AM ·

 These are more light-hearted than I expected! I remember breaking my bow felt horrible, as does each time I accidentally chip wood off the corner of my "child"! Feeling unprepared for a lesson...or being chewed out by an adjudicator (mostly) unnecessarily. I also remember the confusion when I tried to pick up my bow and my arm could not hold it...but the worst sensation ever is the fear of never being able to play again. Depressing, but a real fear when you have no idea why you aren't healing. 

February 18, 2011 at 07:22 AM ·

From a luthier's perspective, Id have to say the worst sensation is the everlasting second between  letting that razor sharp knife slip and looking down to see how much life juice is draining from your hand .  From a player's perspective, it would have to be starting out an already fast piece at way too fast a tempo during a solo performance, and realizing you, and your audience, is just going to have to hang on as you ride it out!

February 18, 2011 at 10:14 AM ·

The worst sensation is showing up for your first rehearsal blind with an orchestra and they have been reheasing some crazy Contemporary piece for weeks and you are seeing it for the first time. Then, you discover with horror that there are only two violinists in your section that have showed up. The first thing the Conductor does is have your "section" play a particuliarly bizarre passage that is in the key of D flat (5 flats), changes time signature twice, all you see are naturals and sharps, and he gives you absolutely no clue about what the tempo is and just jumps in! To add insult to injury he decides to have the two of you play one at a time. :o)

 Or, my recent concert experience: My E string snapped at the tail on measure 32 of the last movement of Tchaikovski's 4th, so I had to play the entire movement with it wiggling in front of me. The awful feeling comes in when you realize you have to play the rest on the A string!

February 18, 2011 at 11:55 AM ·

 The worst sensation I have ever had was when there were only 4 days to go till a massive youth orchestra concerto (beethoven 9th) and I got so sick I could barely stand. I had to skip rehearsal and on the next day when I showed up, not only was I completely lost but I also forgot my glasses so I couldn´t see the notes properly. I was sure there and then that my performance at the concert would be terrible. But thankfully it wasn´t :)

February 18, 2011 at 01:00 PM ·

Let me's mine...

I have this nasty sensation to smash my fiddle when it begins to have a mind of its own.

February 18, 2011 at 02:16 PM ·

Hi, Theo!

Worst sensation -- two days ago -- first day of orchestra -- when I couldn't keep up, and sat out (in a panic!) 3/4 of the Mozart quartet we were playing.  Thought there was no hope for me!  It did go MUCH better yesterday.  I'm working on a blog post for that covers the whole experience.  Should be submitting it soon.

February 18, 2011 at 04:35 PM ·

Having my E break (halfway along the peg, of all places!) just as the conductor was starting the downbeat at the beginning of a carol concert that was being broadcast on community radio.  I was playing first desk and all cases and personal belongings were locked in a security room two floors up.  I spent the rest of the concert becoming very familiar with the upper reaches of the A-string. 

February 18, 2011 at 08:36 PM ·

 Early in my life as a professional orchestral violinist, trying to be cool, doing the crossword in pencil just before the concert started. Then wandering on the stage with violin in one hand and the pencil in my other - walking off against the flow to get my bow through a sea of laughing faces who could see exactly what I had done. And I'm rubbish at crosswords...

February 18, 2011 at 10:22 PM ·

 When I opened my locked locker at Indiana U and discovered my beloved viola was gone.  I still hear it sometimes in my sleep.

(At that time, 1980, IU had a policy you had to use their locks in the music building, and my apartment was even LESS safe.  I had to be out of town for two days.  Even writing this hurts still.)



February 19, 2011 at 01:24 PM ·

 Probably the time I dropped my bow in the middle of Beethoven's 6th.  The screw hit square on the table, right by the treble f-hole, and left a divot.

The good news is that it was a sign of a cured bow hand death-grip.

February 19, 2011 at 01:56 PM ·


I know that feeling! Doing Beethoven's Prometheus ballet music, I missed the repeat. Everyone else was on the G string - pp - and I started this ff scale down on the E string. Sounded even worse as it tailed off rapidly. And yes it was broadcast like that. At least it was in tune.

February 19, 2011 at 03:27 PM ·


when i played gigs for my friends wedding and my string snapped,

as i was accompanied by a piano, i lower one octave for the key note,

although it sounds kinda weird,

gotta to continue.....

(damn! i feel shameful for that!)

February 20, 2011 at 12:29 AM ·

Taking things desk by desk - or even worse - player by player is ALWAYS counter-productive. One orchestra I was in, our resdient conductor tried it a couple of times. The first was in Traviata - one of my colleagues immediately demaded to move to the 2nds. Luckily, the principal agreed on one condition - that she became sub-principal (which was vacant). Where she did a super job. One other time was actually very funny. Last page of the Hebrides. Along with snide comments like "Very interesting! Next!" Some of the players have had a "thing" about that ever since. But the best bit was - he started at the back of seconds, to the front and then came to front desk of firsts. We could both play it, but on this occasion, we both put them down in fistfulls and nowhere near together. Then just sat there and rather dared him to say anything. He didn't. Because, like most bullies, he was also scared of anyone who'd stand up to him.

A better solution was in a previous orchestra. A guest conductor asked for it desk by desk. Our leader just looked at him and stated "Sorry! We don't do that kind of thing here". End of story!

Luckily, those were the only occasions anyone's ever tried to do it.

February 20, 2011 at 01:55 AM ·

Getting fitted with an individual overhead mic for the pit orchestra and having it drop on the body of my viola.  Luckily, there were no cracks or breaks, just a varnish scar. 

Second to that was my first solo performance as an adult.  My tremolos were impressive.  Unfortunately, the music did not call for them.

February 21, 2011 at 08:38 PM ·

waking up on the last day of music camp and being completely unable to lift my right arm... and I was heading to another music camp the next weekend

February 24, 2011 at 03:37 PM ·

Haha! Awesome stories everyone. Glad to hear I'm not alone.

Although, I have to admit that having my viola stolen would have been the worst what could happen, to me at least.

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