How would you take a 'Wow, that violins sounds very good!'?

February 8, 2017 at 11:27 PM · Just another quick thread. If after playing, someone approaches to you and says:

-Wow, that violin really sounds great! Amazing!

Are you thinking inside:

A) WHAT? It's not the violin, IT'S ME! I make it sound that good, you *****!!! Did you know how many hours it took me to make it sound like THAT?

B) Oh, thank you, it costed me a lot of money, so yeah, it's a great violin

C) Uh? I will take it as a compliment to my playing skills, I won't overthink it...

D) Kill me...

PD: I've seen many users have taken this thread way too seriously. Of course, reading the options I give, it's quite clear I wanted hilarious answers, answers with a touch of humor. Some users here got it, others not at all. I really think 99% of violinists in real life would take that as a compliment and would smile and say thank you, feeling great cause his/her performance was loved by someone. Only a very specific way of saying that compliment, mostly by another violinist, would mean that it's not you, but the violin, what sounds great.

Replies (38)

February 8, 2017 at 11:40 PM · I'd probably say something along the lines of "Thank you." I think it would mostly be me, but my instrument to a degree too.

February 9, 2017 at 12:53 AM · Thanks. I make it sing, but it provides the right voice. :)

February 9, 2017 at 01:05 AM · Heifetz famously looked at his violin and said "I don't hear anything".

:-D

February 9, 2017 at 01:17 AM · So, he was saying that he could fill a concert hall with a 1/64 fiddle?

Nope!

What he meant was that what the hear is a particular player on that particular instrument (as I said above, somewhat poetically so)... :D

February 9, 2017 at 04:47 AM · Depends.

If it really was a great fiddle, I'd probably say that it was junk but I happened to be playing like a god that day.

February 9, 2017 at 05:51 AM · I suppose it depends on whether or not you are the one who chose the violin!

February 9, 2017 at 09:00 AM · When I play a student's instrument, they hear the difference with mine.. (Even when I have adjusted to it.)

February 9, 2017 at 10:58 AM · Wow, Douglas, I've read that line before, but until now I've not completely understand it. Ingenious answer, hahaha, what a great answer!

By the way, this thread of course is supposed to be a joking/funny thread. I know in a real situation everyone here would say Thank you.

February 9, 2017 at 12:32 PM · Laurie got it right -- remember they are complimenting you on your selection of your violin, which we all know is usually a totally agonizing process that takes years and years only to find out that the problem with your previous violin was just the little plastic tube on your E string all along.

February 9, 2017 at 01:52 PM · I'd say, "Thanks. You want to buy one?" (I make them, but play like crap.)

February 9, 2017 at 08:49 PM · Everyone gets these kinds of comments. I'm also a photographer and we get these comments constantly. "WOW, your camera takes really good picture". "Thanks, I thought it everything it knows"

With the violin, it's even more insulting. At least with a camera, yes, it does do some things on its own. The violin definitely doesn't.

I used to compare it to complimenting a chef saying that he must have expensive pans as this meal is amazing.

February 9, 2017 at 08:49 PM ·

February 9, 2017 at 08:52 PM · "Thanks, I taught it everything it knows" is a hilarious answer

February 9, 2017 at 08:52 PM · "Thanks, I taught it everything it knows" is a hilarious answer

February 9, 2017 at 09:21 PM · I'd say, "Oh, I made it!" with a big smile. This is how I usually say about things I wear. It's not the same with the violin comment but not too far from it either, because the comment is about the sound quality came out of the violin when played by you.

Similar compliment to a singer we hear is "She has a great voice", which they could refer to her natural voice or how well she knows how to use her voice, or both.

February 9, 2017 at 09:43 PM · I got that comment from My Violin Teacher. After working on scales, etc for a month, at one lesson he says..."what did you do to your violin?"

February 9, 2017 at 10:25 PM · Hahahaha, that one's a killer phrase.

"What did you do to your violin these two weeks that now it sounds good!?"

Wow, I would laugh a lot if my teacher says that to me.

Corey you're right, haha, I say that constantly when I see a good picture. "Look at that picture, your camera takes really good pictures". That is a very funny thing to say to a photographer. Although yeah, it's not like a violin, you have to give some credit to the camera.

Now, the chef one really is the best one in this thread, THAT must be a total destruction to a chef. Just imagine the face of the chef if you go to the kitchen and say something like:

-Wooow, the $90 menu, although expensive, was totally worth it, what a delicious dinner, chef, you must have very good pans and ovens to do that.

L.O.L

February 9, 2017 at 11:48 PM · Playing the violin is a partnership job: You can't make those sounds without the violin, and the violin can't make them either without you. ...wait, there's also the bow, the bow is part of that equation... This is starting to seem more like a ménage à trois... Why must life be so complicated?!

February 10, 2017 at 02:25 PM · Some great responses here. I would take it as a compliment, albeit slightly back-handed. After all, anyone who's never had a lesson could make a great fiddle sound really lousy.

Interestingly I once received a similar comment from someone who should have known better - a former concert-master of a full-time professional orchestra, following and audition for his (non-professional) chamber orchestra. Ironically the violin was a cheap, roughly made instrument which just happened to sound really good (in the right hands...). I wish I'd had the presence of mind to think of one of the above, or something like 'it's the way I play it...'

February 10, 2017 at 02:48 PM · Sometime between 30 and 40 years ago I received phone call at work (in CA) from a visiting engineer from further east who said he heard I had some violins and he had 5 violins with him, as he always did when he was going to be near LA luthiers. He wanted to visit me that evening. So he did (I also invited a couple of my adult students), and tried my violins (I think I only had 2 at the time). After he played my "Spanish fiddle" (Fernando SOLAR Gonzales) he asked me if I would sell it to him. I didn't , but it feels good to have one's opinion validated.

February 10, 2017 at 09:08 PM · You could answer, "thanks, but you know - it's mainly the bow... and also that great shoulder rest!" If this wouldn't make that person think about his words by himself, then this person's opinion might not be worth any further thoughts.

February 10, 2017 at 09:40 PM · Hahaha, Nuuska, now that one's a really good one.

-You know, it's not the violin what sounds that good, it's actually the shoulder rest I'm using. God it costed me $600.

February 11, 2017 at 12:06 AM · Or, use no shoulder rest and sound even better, said:

Me, Heifetz, Milstein and a buncha other older players. :)

Plus, you save $600.... :D

February 11, 2017 at 12:21 AM · My mother took offense to people who came up after a performance, and told her how well she "tickled the ivories". She took it as dismissive of all her hard work. Eventually, she may have come to a place where she could start to consider it a compliment. Yes, she made it look easy. Yes, most of these people weren't highly trained pianists or organists, and they were giving the highest compliment they knew how to give.

With a performer today, it might be better to say, "You really kicked ass". But my mother wouldn't have known how to take that either. ;-)

February 11, 2017 at 01:18 PM · "It's not the shoulder rest, it's the rosin that is my secret!" ;-D

A more serious answer later...

February 11, 2017 at 03:29 PM · Hm... So if you don't use a SR, then giving all the credits to the SR you use might be even a better answer, wouldn't you think?

February 11, 2017 at 06:01 PM · No, because then everyone will get confused, thinking that you would be the best player in the world with the SR, and that lack of one is making you sound "very good" only. :)

February 11, 2017 at 07:39 PM · First my reaction would be violins?

Then it would be, oh thanks, I did have to save up for it.

February 11, 2017 at 10:02 PM · It would depend on the person saying it and the situation.

If I sensed that it was an average audience member (not a colleague) trying to compliment me, I'd accept it as such - though I might add, with an ironic smile "thanks, I hoped I helped it to sound well, a little". This has actually happened once or twice to me and the person said "oh of course! I didn't mean to say..." and I'd say "It's OK".

If it was a colleague who I felt really wanted to let me know how the violin was projecting, etc. I'd appreciate the feedback.

Then there are the types of colleagues who will do anything to avoid giving you a compliment or in some way will damn you with faint praise: "That Beethoven sonata sure is a great piece, isn't it?" If it were someone who I knew was not nearly as good as I am, I might be tempted to hand him my violin and say "here, you try it and let's hear how good it sounds." But Henri Temianka, a great violinist who wrote a delightful memoir called "Facing the Music", talked about this situation. He advised not to get defensive and give such a "friend" the satisfaction that he knew he drew blood. Rather, he advised, reply to the effect "Yes. isn't it great? And the best part is that I got it for practically nothing!" That will send them away muttering to themselves!

And why do violinists from Heifetz on down get defensive about this sort of thing? Well, why not? I'm sure that no tennis pro would like being "complimented" on how good a job his tennis racket did. With the violin and bow it's more complicated and there is so much going on with the complex vibrations and our own personal relationship with the violin and bow. We couldn't play without a violin and bow. And they couldn't play themselves. We can all use all the help we can get. Nevertheless, the technique and musicianship, the message come from the player. I'd much rather hear a great player on a mediocre violin than a mediocre player on a great violin. Again, context matters. I've heard major players happily extol the virtues of their violins.

Even giving a sincere compliment can be tricky and misunderstood. Once an excellent colleague played on a Guadagnini violin for me that he got on a long-term loan. I said "It sounds really good - but it doesn't play itself." Meaning that it was more him than the violin. But he interpreted that differently, and said: "You're right, it's not all that responsive." Then I explained that I was trying to compliment him.

I'm so interested in instruments and bows that I have sometimes asked performers what they were using - but only after complimenting THEM. If they told me I'd just say, "oh, OK, thanks" or "It sounds really good - IN YOUR HANDS".

February 11, 2017 at 10:42 PM · The appropriate response to a compliment is a simple: "Thank you." Just accept it and don't try to dissect it or look for a hidden meaning. Chances are the person giving the compliment isn't a violinist or even a musician.

The sound you, or any musician, produces is a very complex mix of your instrument, training, practice, skill, bow, rosin, barometric pressure, humidity, room acoustics and the perception of the person giving the compliment.

Just say "Thank You" and leave it at that. Then be happy.

February 12, 2017 at 04:37 AM · I was just reminded of a similar thread from a few years ago:

Yixi Zhang

How do you compliment a violinist after you heard his/her beautiful performance?

July 20, 2013 at 01:56 PM · I attend concerts fairly often so naturally I get to meet some awesome violinists. I tend to get gushy and say a bunch of silly things to them after their performance, but one thing I don’t say is about their instrument because I don't want to risk insulting the performer, even though sometimes I think a great violin does contribute to the music a great deal. Discuss.

Replies (23)

February 12, 2017 at 05:37 AM · I recently went through this with a teacher ... my playing had become more consistent and on key ... the truth is that for the first time in months I was playing in tune with regularity so pieces sounded better.

Teacher thought it was practice and my pitch ... truth is I got flippin tired of tuning and got Knilling planetary pegs, they are friggin awesome ...

February 12, 2017 at 05:50 AM · And... here.. comes.. another.. pegdebate

February 12, 2017 at 08:54 AM · The point of traditional pegs is that they teach your ears and fingers to fix the pitch (hence a no frets instrument). :)

If you never go out of tune, how will you learn precise intonation without the use of your fingers (because intonation is completely in the ears- the fingers simply follow them).

To test this, start a scale on a non-scalar note (like a quarter tone hat is not in tune), and hear the next note in the scale before you automatically place your fingers. Lo and behold! Your ears magically transferred the correct distances to your fingers, whereas using the fingers instead would probably make you go quite a bit out of tune.

PS: This "ability" requires good knowledge of the fingerboard's spacings and practice of precise pitch. For this reason, always play one-finger chromatic scales up and down each string.

You thus develop extremely precise pitch, memorization of any space on the fingerboard (including in-between out of tune ones), and extreme sensitivity to the tonal and pitch differences of each key (each note played with a different intonation in each scale, E flat vs D sharp in a key etc). :)

February 12, 2017 at 08:59 PM · I was told at my orchestra practice by the 2nd stands that my violin made theirs sound like chatterbox. I wish I saw this thread! I just shrugged and let it go...

February 12, 2017 at 09:23 PM · I've gotten plenty of compliments on the sound of my violin, and it doesn't bother me. I take it as an honest compliment, not an insult.

February 12, 2017 at 11:27 PM · I've edited the first message as I was noticing many users were taking this thread way too seriously, as an actual serious thread about what to do if that happens to anyone ever. No, reading the options given one should see this thread is seeking funny answers, as some other users have given.

February 13, 2017 at 01:57 AM · Here are a few answers on the lighter side, since that's what you were looking for. ;)

"Thanks so much, he/she is just getting over a cold so I'm glad to hear he sounded alright to you."

"Well, thanks! It's not a Strad...but then again I'm not Joshua Bell either."

"Oh it's not the violin at all. It's the strings/rosin. Don't get me started on... [insert your favorite string/rosin brand]." (This would be especially funny and appropriate if people know that you tend to rave about a certain brand.)

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