Your worst mishap

November 1, 2011 at 11:12 PM · What was your worst mishap with your violin or bow?

Replies (24)

November 2, 2011 at 01:25 AM · I once dropped my bow, right on my fiddle, during a concert.

Serves me right for overcompensating for holding it too tight -- and for holding the bow too tight, in the first place!

November 2, 2011 at 02:24 AM · David Garrett's accident actually happened in 2008.

Can't think of any repair having to cost 60,000 pounds;even if it required making casts of the plates, etc.It must have been utterly smashed up.

Isaac Stern had a similar accident and fell on his violin case coming down the stairs in a subway, damaging his Strad. He changed his wooden case to an aluminum one after that.

November 2, 2011 at 08:02 AM · 2 Samuel 1: 27

King James Bible (Cambridge Ed.)

How are the mighty fallen, and the weapons of war perished!

November 2, 2011 at 01:31 PM · ---[This post was edited especially for Paul Deck]---

Didn't happen to me thankfully, but many years ago while performing during a Florida state band competition one of the trombone players was rocking back in his chair.

The only problem was that the trombones were seated on the third tier with no one and no thing but air and a six foot fall to the floor to stop them if they went over the edge.

A couple of us in the trumpet section quietly pointed to the poor soul as the rear feet of his chair were less than an inch from the edge. It was only a matter of time. And then ...

Bam! He went over the edge hard. Chair, player, and trombone. Needless to say several of us couldn't contain the laughter. He should have known better.

Our performance was was being graded by three judges. I forget what they gave us. Don't think they mentioned the trombone player.

November 2, 2011 at 04:11 PM · Thanks for editing. *grin*

November 2, 2011 at 04:34 PM · A couple years ago during a performance of the Imperial March my bow flew out of my hand on an up bow. I quickly stood up, caught it over my stand partner's head, sat down, and kept on playing. I didn't even know anyone in the audience noticed until I saw a comment on Facebook the next day.


November 2, 2011 at 04:40 PM · Wayne, if there was a video you would now be famous! One wonders what might have happened but for your bow twirling skills...

November 2, 2011 at 05:50 PM · Garrett's fiddle was actually a Guadagnini not a Strad if I'm not mistaken (I'm sure someone will correct me if I'm wrong). The sad thing was that there was this sort of collective sigh of relief from some because it was ONLY a Guadagnini and ONLY worth one million lol!


November 3, 2011 at 12:00 AM · Elise:

I'm glad there apparently isn't a video :)

It actually happened during a Halloween concert and the conductor was dressed as Darth Vader and conducting with a lightsaber. So I would imagine if there were cameras they were thankfully focused on him.

Side note: Its a odd experience when you look up and see Darth Vader looking at you and waving a lightsaber in your general direction.

November 3, 2011 at 03:01 PM · Great humour David!! (Bible quote)

"A couple years ago during a performance of the Imperial March my bow flew out of my hand on an up bow. I quickly stood up, caught it over my stand partner's head, sat down, and kept on playing. I didn't even know anyone in the audience noticed until I saw a comment on Facebook the next day."


At one of this years Prom concerts after Nigel K had played his Bach he went into some jazz numbers and at one point threw his bow up into the air a caught it. I'm sure it was the same bow. A risky trick if you are not an expert!

November 3, 2011 at 03:03 PM · Garrett's fiddle was a Guadanini and it happened here in London at the Barbican if I remember correctly. Apparently he was even sober at the time ...

November 3, 2011 at 03:06 PM · On the other hand an even worse mishap for me was when I married my first wife.

November 3, 2011 at 06:52 PM · Three events only two were me.

In High School, I played euphonium, I saw a tuba, ok a Sousaphone, fall off the top of the bleachers at a football game. Brass is a very malleable material.

Once, about 1972, a group of friends and I were going camping for the night around Austin. We got a late start and were looking for a suitable spot at night. We got out at a few places to check out the area and then moved on.

At one point I noticed my guitar was missing. We retraced our path. It’s a strange feeling driving in the country in the dark and having the headlight hit the case holding your Martin 0-18 on the ground in the middle of nowhere. I think I had leaned it against the car and forgot.

Ok here’s my favorite. I was my scout troop’s bugler, I used a coronet. One cold morning I got up early to play reveille and started to try and warm my instrument. I stuck the coronet under my jacket but for some reason I placed the mouthpiece next to me a little closer to the fire.

While talking to a couple of other scouts I all of a sudden realized it was time for reveille. I pulled out my horn, grabbed the shaft of my mouthpiece, pushed it into the instrument, brought the instrument to my lips and we all heard the sizzle.

I was still able to play, kind of a macho thing I guess, but I had this strange circle on my lips for a couple of weeks.

November 4, 2011 at 10:17 PM · Not quite a mishap - one of our trombone players in a rehearsal split a top note, stood up, announced (loudly) "I can't take any more" and threw his trombone against the studio wall. It was a battered "school" trombone, and not only had he planned it, a lot of us knew he was going to do it. Not so some of the - er, more mature ladies who were rather shocked. And wondered why some of the rest of us were killing ourselves laughing.

November 6, 2011 at 03:00 PM · No one can top this one-- :)

Years ago I was playing bass in the pit for a local theater company's annual musical when the stiff metal wire holding my tailpiece broke with a tremendous bang. The bridge fell to the floor with a lot of clatter, the soundpost fell over and bounced around for a while, and the tailpiece hit the belly of the bass with another loud boom. So then the strings were being held only by the grooves at the nut, and the tailpiece was swinging wildly so that the jagged ends of the wire were raking across the varnish. I tried to reach forward to grab the tailpiece in my hand, but since the strings were now confined only by the grooves on the nut, the farther I leaned forward, the farther away the tailpiece swung. Eventually, I leaned so far that I knocked my stool backward and my music stand forward into the cello section.

Seated ahead of me was a very fine cellist playing her just-purchased $40,000 cello. She reflexively stopped playing, stood up, and swung herself toward the audience, cradling her baby in her arms and placing her body between it and whatever was going on behind her. This caused her endpin to become horizontal at a height just exactly right to topple her music stand into the viola section.

The principal violist, a very nervous man, let out a loud shout as the music stand came crashing by. Of course, in the pit all of our music stands had lights, and all of the lights were connected by a maze of electrical cables that were running off a single extension cord. We had now reached the tipping point of domino-effect disaster as stands went down all the way through the violin sections to the grand piano.

The conductor looked on as the lights in the entire string section winked out one by one, stands clattered every which way, and musicians jumped to their feet and knocked their chairs over, but there was nothing he could do about it.

In a desperate decision, the conductor indicated to the pianist and the winds and percussion (all seated to his right) to keep playing, but the oboe/flute player, a jolly little Greek fellow, was so amused by what was happening to his friends in the string section that he began to laugh uncontrollably. He laughed so hard that tears came to his eyes and caused him to rock in his chair. He rocked so hard that his toupee fell off his head, the sight of which caused the entire brass section to start laughing, at which point the wind section began dropping out one player at a time.

At last, it was just the conductor and the piano, and the audience was laughing harder than it did for any of the jokes in the dialog. The chorus on stage quit because they could no longer hear any music, and the production ground to a halt.

At the beginning I wrote that this was a story that could not be topped, but I lied. This is one other that comes to mind . . .

November 6, 2011 at 09:43 PM · Robert I laughed so loud I could not read and yes, tears poured off my face (but fortunatley no toupee domino effect). Thanks, we all need one good belly laugh a day. And yes, I'm sure no one can top that (I suspect not even you... but DO try ..).

November 6, 2011 at 10:17 PM · WOW, Robert. Wow.

November 7, 2011 at 05:36 PM · My worst disaster? The hair fell out of the pointy end of my bow during a symphony concert. Ever tried playing the third movement of the Pathetique Symphony pizzicato ??

November 8, 2011 at 01:54 AM · Once I had one of my Ed Maday violins on the top of my couch - a stupidly precarious position. I somehow turned around and knocked it over. It fell over in back of the couch and onto the floor, faster than I could get to it. It had a couple of major cracks.

I called Ed and said something to the effect of "WAAAAGGHHHHHH! I killed my violin!!" Ed said to bring it over and he'd do what he could. He repaired it beautifully, and it sounded maybe better than before! I shan't make that particular mistake again!

November 8, 2011 at 12:13 PM · Many years ago, as a student I was waiting on a train platform with a lovely old French violin from about 1880 on my back. As I was about to board the train, one of the straps snapped and the case went hurtling to the ground. When I got onto the train, I checked the instrument and to my relief it looked absolutely fine. It was only when I started playing later that evening that the overhanging light showed up a hairline split which ran through one of the sound holes. The luthier took the front off the violin and when the repair was complete, the violin never sounded the same. Despite changing the sound post position, the violin seemed dull and unresponsive. It was a very sad chapter as I had felt great affection for that violin and it was many years before I found another one that I enjoyed playing on as much.

On the other hand, a friend of mine got her cello trapped between the closing doors of a train on the London underground and the photograph she showed me was shocking - as if someone had put their foot through it! The repair job was so perfect that the cello sounded exactly the same afterwards whic is a relief as it's a lovely 18th century instrument!

November 13, 2011 at 10:35 AM · The worst I can think of was when I was playing with an orchestra, and as I was doing triple stops my E string snapped violently and hit me squarely in the face. A violin slap if there ever was one :(

The worst story I've heard was about a percussionist in charge of the cymbals at NHK Symphony (I think). He was running late, the other members were already on stage, and he was running, running, with cymbals in his hand, when he tripped and dropped the cymbals (the hall was silent at this time, people were tuned, ready to go) and...

dropped it, making that ring noise a hemisphere-ish hollow object makes when it is dropped onto a flat surface. It was LOUD. Everyone heard it. The audience did. As well as the director of the orchestra.

He was immediately fired (no surprise) and got very annoyed, and turned into a jazz musician. Quoth he: 'I get paid so much more now. Glad I dropped the cymbals"...


November 13, 2011 at 11:36 AM · I haven't had a mishap like Mr. Garrett before, but the worst was probably almost dropping my old student violin. As I was playing (I was sitting down) I reached to mark a passage with my violin in my lap. The violin slipped and I immediatly reached to grab it, knocking the bridge clean off the instrument. I was able to get it back on properly but while tuning up the "G" it snapped, only adding to the mishap.

Not so severe, but luckily the worst I've experienced

January 25, 2012 at 06:28 AM · I tripped and fell and my nice old violin flew across the room, resulting in a crack in the table by the fingerboard, and the neck came off. Fortunately the button on the back did not break. It was put right by a competent repair shop, plays as well as ever and the repair is completely and utterly invisible.

January 25, 2012 at 09:31 AM · I bet you saw your life go before your eyes as it flew accross the room... but a very happy ending - and I hope a good tip for your luthier! :)

This discussion has been archived and is no longer accepting responses.

Facebook Twitter YouTube Instagram Email is made possible by...

Shar Music
Shar Music

Yamaha Silent Violin
Yamaha Silent Violin

Pirastro Strings
Pirastro Strings

Find a Summer Music Program
Find a Summer Music Program

Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases
Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases Business Directory Business Directory Guide to Online Learning Guide to Online Learning

Dominant Pro Strings

Antonio Strad Violin

Bay Fine Strings Violin Shop

Bobelock Cases


Los Angeles Violin Shop

Nazareth Gevorkian Violins

Metzler Violin Shop

Leatherwood Bespoke Rosin



Johnson String Instrument and Carriage House Violins

Potter Violins

String Masters

Bein & Company

Annapolis Bows & Violins

Laurie's Books

Discover the best of in these collections of editor Laurie Niles' exclusive interviews. Interviews Volume 1 Interviews Volume 1, with introduction by Hilary Hahn Interviews Volume 2 Interviews Volume 2, with introduction by Rachel Barton Pine