Violet Violin Violation!

September 12, 2012 at 06:16 PM · So, a mother in Farmington, NM pulled her daughter from middle school orchestra because the teacher wouldn't let her use a purple VSO in class. To me this seems like pulling your child of the basketball team because the coach wouldn't let her wear high heels on the court. Maybe, I've just had too much coffee today. What are your thoughts? You can read about it here.

Replies (21)

September 12, 2012 at 06:51 PM · What kind of parent buys their kid a purple VSO before asking the school orchestra teacher what kind of instrument is preferred/recommended? If the VSO was all they could afford, well, okay then.

September 12, 2012 at 06:56 PM · The primary take-away I have from that article is the one-sided aspect of it. It was a poor piece of journalism presented without research.

With that said, if I were not privy to the violin world, I would not know what a VSO was. In that case, the article may have served the purpose of inciting negative feelings towards the school and the instructor.

However, since I have a feeling that the instructor was really trying to give the student the best possible road to success, I think the child and her parents have used their misunderstanding of the need for a useful tool, and their hurt feelings to give them 15 minutes of fame (unflattering as it is).

It is a shame that a reasonable discourse could not have taken place rather than the ugliness in the article and its associated commentary.

Best of luck to the school, the teacher and the orchestra program.

September 12, 2012 at 07:04 PM · @Paul - her grandmother bought it for her and she bought it before they moved in to this school district.

On one hand, the teacher insists it's going out of tune often. If that's the case, I can agree with requiring a different violin - but only based upon that.

Based upon it being violet, I say "get over it". Yes, people are going to double take and/or stare for a bit, but music is about your ears. Fill them up with delicious sounds and who cares about the person with the violet violin?

Least, that's my opinion on it.

September 12, 2012 at 08:19 PM · One of my friends here at Eastman just bought a purple viola as a gag, to see how people react to it in orchestra..

September 12, 2012 at 09:52 PM · The only indication that this purple product is a VSO are the on-line comments of a high school sophomore. From what is in the article, it sounds like the issue is the color, not the quality of the aubergine object.

Living in New Mexico myself, I'm surprised this is the first I've heard of this tempest in a teapot. I do know that Farmington, a small, not particularly wealthy city in a rural area, has long had excellent music programs in their public schools.

This sounds like a perfect situation to move away from the one-size-fits-all, no compromise, zero-tolerance attitude rampant in public education. Welcome the girl with open arms; she wants to play in the orchestra! Perhaps have her use a more traditional-looking instrument for concerts, assessments, or competitions, but if the magenta monstrosity makes her happy, and is no more of a VSO than other instruments sported by local 11-year-olds, let her use it for daily classes. The school asks for concert dress, which is absolutely appropriate. If this violet viol is distracting from the stage, deal with that the same way you would deal with concert dress and hot pink shoes, but don't throw the baby out with the lilac-hued bathwater.

September 12, 2012 at 10:50 PM · There are certain endeavours we undertake in which we agree to wear a uniform. Orchestra is one such endeavour, and the violin is part of the uniform. The child had access to a 'regular' violin for performances, so there was no need to used the purple one. She was free to practice on that one at home.

Win-win to me. But the mother appears to need her 15 minutes of fame.

September 13, 2012 at 12:12 AM · A friend had a very young student show up with a blue one. It simply could not be tuned. I'm presuming this wasn't about color, either, it was that trying to manage the instrument for the student was eating up the class period for an entire group of kids. We won't even talk about the likelihood of poor tone, bad adjustment, bow with strands like saran-wrap for hair...

September 13, 2012 at 01:02 AM · Farmington NM has a music program, an orchestra! how cool is that. I wonder how long it will survive under this kind of publicity--any administrator looking for budget cuts could get teeth into that stupid issue easily.

People with David Ravinius' violas sometimes have problems in orchestras--not student, professional! They are more easily played and most of them sound good, but the visual is a bit hard for some audiences to get around.

I hope this silly mess doesn't (a) stop the girl from playing (b) get blown any more out of proportion.

September 13, 2012 at 01:32 AM · I had a teacher tell me one time that his biggest issue in his 40+ years of working with young musicians was never from the students, it was always the parents who refused to learn anything about what their kids were doing, and threw tantrums when their inept choices related to the subject matter were called into question.

September 13, 2012 at 03:59 AM · Let's forget a couple things.

Let's forget the color of the violin.

Instead, let's look at something else. What is the violin? Is it an actual musical instrument? Is it made with a solid wood back of aged wood, carved (either by human or machine) to provide some quality of sound?

Is the face also well-made? Is the neck well made, reasonably straight, and usable?

Is the setup of adequate quality for a musical instrument?

I think approaching those things, rather than discarding it because of color would be the best way to go.

That said, you can almost guarantee that the violin (the color is usually an indicator) is made of laminated wood (plywood), the wood is not appropriately aged, the neck is flawed, and the setup is as close to non-existent as can be.

Don't hate it because it it purple. Hate it because it is not a real musical instrument.

September 13, 2012 at 05:01 AM · what is VSO

September 13, 2012 at 09:43 AM · VSO: Violin Shaped Object

September 13, 2012 at 03:33 PM · Latest news: School banned it:

Story Here

Child chose not to use school violin - even for free. (School normally charges to rent a violin.)

Decided to take up choir instead.

September 13, 2012 at 05:19 PM · I once heard a local luthier remark that no reputable violin maker would compromise his reputation by making violins painted (the word he used) in garish colours, and ruining good wood in the process. He went on to say that such instruments were generally indicative of poor materials and likely poor workmanship.

I saw a green violin at a folk fiddle workshop a few years ago. Its proud owner, a beginner, was showing it off to the tutor, who was significantly polite and non-commital when he examined it.

Myself, I had the opportunity to play on a green-coloured violin at a session last year. It was made in the UK and its owner was an experienced player, active on local gig circuits. It had a dreadfully tiny, dull and non-projecting tone, and I don't think it was the setup responsible because everything appeared to be more or less as per spec, although I couldn't vouch for accurate positioning of bass bar and soundpost, certainly in pub lighting conditions.

September 13, 2012 at 09:50 PM · In today's world of ridiculous and idiotic movies I reckon there's a slot for a film called "The Purple Violin". Problem is, who's going to be the patsy playing the eponymous instrument live on screen :) ?

September 14, 2012 at 11:32 AM · Sounds like the kid took her ball and went home. End of story.

September 14, 2012 at 01:01 PM · I chuckled because this sounds like violin 'colour discrimination', even if that violin sounds good, the school couldn't bare to have a oddly coloured violin...it's a bit sad really >_>

September 16, 2012 at 02:10 PM · You're right. Colour, by itself, doesn't affect quality. However, having said that, the coloured violins readily available are NOT quality violins. They are made to appeal to children, or perhaps someone with another 'alternative' violin agenda.

I just can't figure out why...when you join a conservative endeavour...you insist on having to be different.

That's the question here...

Should each individual football player be allowed to wear a uniform of any colour they like? Think of the chaos.

There's certainly a place for expressing yourself...but orchestra isn't it.

October 16, 2012 at 01:41 PM · I have had several teachers who did not like my son's carbon fiber violin from a first look/visual impression, but all of them have come to accept and even love the sound it makes. After any of the strings performances people do come up and compliment his playing, but no one ever mentions that it is not the right color.

October 16, 2012 at 10:49 PM · Using a painted violin is like using a nice, comfy bed with a concrete slab on it.

October 17, 2012 at 11:08 AM · i think that's an awful decision - music at that level in particular should be fun. i realize there's a disciplined (drill-sergeant, "arrrup!") mind set to consider but tut-tuts from the podium because of someone's colored fiddle seems officious and overbearing.

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