Violin Tricks

May 23, 2006 at 12:14 AM · Does anyone have any ideas for some violin tricks? I have an April Fool's Day recital and I need some cool tricks to do while I'm performing on stage.

Replies (15)

May 23, 2006 at 12:37 AM ·

May 23, 2006 at 12:52 AM · It's MAY, nearly June.

Eliza Krivo, why are you preparing for an April Fool's concert NOW that is nearly a year away?

I'd like to hear her honest reply before I go forward with suggestions, as what I will eventually post is completely predicated on what she's asking for.

May 23, 2006 at 01:30 AM · You could learn to play violin on a unicycle. It took me 2 months to ride the damn thing, then I did it with 2 sticks, but I could control a cheap violin (!) fairly well in the end, cycling up and down the street.

Now if you could play the last mvt of Mendelssohn on it, complete with swoops and twirls, that would really be something.

May 23, 2006 at 02:48 AM · BOW FENCING!!!!! =)

May 23, 2006 at 04:54 AM · There is a great trick that makes everyone around you kringe... garunteed. Loosen your bow, and put the hair of the bow on the back of your violin, then push the wood of the bow against the loose hairs, up and down, and you will get this awful cracking noise that sounds as if you are breaking your violin. On top of that, you can act as if you are eating the scroll!

May 23, 2006 at 01:38 PM · Kevin... In order for THIS april fool's concert to be a success, I need "funny" music and a silly stage show. Because "funny" music is hard to come by, I have started planning my concert now. Also, by the time the fall comes back, I won't WANT to think about a concert. So, if there is a trick that is difficult to learn, I need a year to perfect it. Planning ahead is an atribute everyone should learn because NO ONE likes to handle things at the last minute, so please don't tease me just because I plan ahead.

May 23, 2006 at 03:04 PM · I can see that you're genuinely sincere in planning an "April Fool's" recital, so I'm NOT teasing you. The seriousness of your intentions in doing this warrants a completely serious response.

One thing I'd like to know is what kind of audience and venue are you playing for, Elisa Krivo. Are you playing for a small group of people or are you playing for 500 people? Is it a free concert, or is it a professional gig that people have to pay money to see? Who are your playing partners, and what kind of scenario are you envisioning for yourself musically?

These are standard questions I address of any playing engagement I attend, let alone the far more difficult ones involving comedy. How does this all work? Well, if you're playing for a small audience without amplification then you don't need a good electric PA setup, but you'd definitely need one in front of 500 people unless you are playing in Symphony Hall and you have the multimillion dollar acoustic chamber of the venue to be your "amplifier". Then you have to plug your electric violin into a board, and you have cable issues that limit or enhance what you intend to do. In my job I use a wireless "Guitar Bug" through my Zeta in order to free my body to jump around, play the violin standing on one leg in Czardas's slow section, and other sundry techniques that get audiences to laugh. If I were plugged into a cable, I couldn't do Czardas the same way I could if I weren't.

We had an "April Fools" concert at the Arizona Opry this year. Actually, we really didn't do anything different because we've got enough real comedy on our shows that it would be overkill. But I do put on my huge 70s Afro when we're doing our disco medley and my gray Bach wig when doing "Roll Over Beethoven"!

These are just two small examples of the kind of thinking a professional violin comedian like myself puts into something like an April Fool's recital. In general, the setup of the venue is the prime influence on what I choose to be funny on and not the other way around.

May 23, 2006 at 03:22 PM · David, ouch!! Is THAT what they teach you in Hungary?? (jk)

As for good violin pranks, one thing that could be hilarious if you pull it off well would be to take some csárdás or capriccio or some sort of fast, tricky piece, and start out playing it as if you're a really bad student--crap intonation, bad posture, really slow, bow hacking across the strings, then keep slowing down and down as you look more and more discouraged. At one point, look like you're giving up--take the fiddle off your shoulder, hang your head in shame. Then look as if you've just remembered something (like the light-bulb over the head in cartoons), put the fiddle back up and play the rest of the csárdás correctly, and hopefully brilliantly, with a big grin and the devil-may-care manner of a gyspy maestro! Dunno, just an idea that popped into my head, worth a try. :)

May 23, 2006 at 06:33 PM · See if you can find some old Victor Borge routines and adapt them to violin. He's definitely worth stealing from, but his comedy relies heavily on timing and pacing.

Also see Spike Jones. Ought to give you some ideas. Funny music, too.

You could take a simple tune with lots of open notes, shift up one or two semitones, and play the tune as if you were still in first position. Can sound pretty funny on some tunes.

A variation is to take a tune written, for example in A, and play the notes as written, but without the sharps, and then act like there's something wrong with the instrument, checking tuning, looking inside, behind you, etc.

Funny routines always look pretty stupid when you describe them. Like music, it's all in the performance.

May 23, 2006 at 07:01 PM · Victor Borge is hilarious. I heard a bit on the radio once where he was describing his Beethoven concerto to the audience before a concert. He would play little snippets of melodies and say "this is the main theme, this is the development, when you hear this you know that's the recapitulation..." etc. Then he played an entirely different melody fragment and said, completely deadpan: "And if you hear that, you know there's something terribly wrong, because that's Tchaikovsky."

May 23, 2006 at 07:56 PM · I put the following on a different discussion thread:

Play the famous Kreutzer etude always parodied by the late Jack Benny. An older crowd will recognize that immediately. Play the first line of it slow and out of tune first. They will laugh. Then play the whole thing fast, the way it's supposed to be.

Another thing you can do with that Kreutzer (and I am sorry to say that I have done it) is to start playing it slowly and with the music. But play it backwards and upside down. Then, as if realizing you had the music upside down on the stand, make a show out of turning it rightside up, then play it the way it should be.

Also, you can play the famous "Moustrap Sonata." Announce it first. Make a big deal out of it. Then set your fingers. Then, in rapid succession, one left-hand pizzicato followed by a squeak with the bow. Then take a deep bow and say "thank you."


May 23, 2006 at 08:32 PM · This is all you need :)

May 23, 2006 at 09:25 PM · At a show put on for the fresher's weekend at college, 2 older students dressed up as nuns with silly bouncy things on their heads and performed the Bach Double on violin and tuba.

Mind you, looking back, that wasn't the slightest bit funny.

Or how about the Harpo Marx clip demolishing a Bechstein in the YouTube thread? - only do it with a violin instead.

May 23, 2006 at 09:48 PM · Larry,

That was hilarious! Thanks for sharing it with us.


May 24, 2006 at 03:44 AM · Thanks sssooo much! these are some really really funny idea's...I can't wait for April Fool's day now!!!

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