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Breaking a string during a concert
How do professional musicians handle this?
Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 (2 votes) 
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fiddlrgrrl
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March 5, 2013 - 2:52 pm
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Our little regional all-volunteer symphony concert is coming up soon and it occurred to me, what would I do if a string broke while we're on stage?  How do seasoned musicians handle this with minimal fuss?  Do you carry an extra set in your pocket and change it right there, or do you leave the stage (between songs, of course) and fix it, or what?  Or just fake it? 

We're a small orchestra, 8 1st Violins, 8 2nds, etc. so a string breaking would be noticed by the audience.  I'd just like to prepare in my mind how to respond gracefully and not disrupt the performance.

Thanks for your thoughts.

 

Fiddlrgrrl

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Picklefish
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March 5, 2013 - 3:51 pm
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I had my D string Peg unwind during the recent concert I was in last Month. I had to try to retune by ear quickly while the performance was going on. Not as familiar with the other positions as I should be by now Its not like I couldve shifted to fourth position and continued on. So, I recommend you become familiar with the other hand positions and shifting. you might need it.

"Please play some wrong notes, so that we know that you are human" - said to Jascha Heifetz.

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Tyberius
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March 5, 2013 - 4:37 pm
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Here's a few examples of broken strings

David Garret look at time mark 1:45

Short video next

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v.....A&

At about 1:19

 

"I find your lack of Fiddle, disturbing" - Darth Vader

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Tyberius
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March 5, 2013 - 4:41 pm
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The Great Ihzak Perlman talks about it in a few interviews. Granted, his level of play is a little bit beyond ours. But basically, if you know your violin, the strngths of your good strings, you can improvise around any broken string. By adjusting higher or lower your pitch/tone, or by moving to other hand positions you can adjust for just about any broken string.

 

I know in Angelina Baker, its is easy to switch strings while playing, Just keep the tune rolling and move down then back up. I guess it would be like that, but with a little more stress involved

"I find your lack of Fiddle, disturbing" - Darth Vader

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fiddlrgrrl
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March 5, 2013 - 5:14 pm
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Interesting videos, thanks.  Fortunately (for everyone) I don't have any solo parts.  And we play a fair amount in 3rd and 5th position on the E string, so I guess I'd have to just fake that.  As an orchestra member, would you leave, or replace it there?

Fiddlrgrrl

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Picklefish
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March 5, 2013 - 5:28 pm
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you cant leave, Agast!  ha ha, I think most people would leave it alone until a intermission or break or just ride it out till the end of the concert, makes a good argument for having a backup instrument right beside you. lol. 

"Please play some wrong notes, so that we know that you are human" - said to Jascha Heifetz.

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Tyberius
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March 5, 2013 - 5:33 pm
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I don't play in and probably never will play in an orchestra. However, If I was in a lead position or solo, I would check with someone close to me prior to the performance that I could swap out with them should a catastrophe strike. I always try to have a backup plans for most things I do. I don't plan for the worst, but in some instances you would be penny wise and pound foolish if you didn't look at things that can befuddle your strategy. I imagine the Concert Master could help you out in that circumstance. I bet he or she would already have something in mind if you made eye contact at that moment.

In a case where you are just a player in a group, I would "lip sync" play the broken string and continue playing the others til the piece ended. It (your performance) would be and look more professionally and keeping your composure under that duress would go miles in respect and gratitude to your audience.

"I find your lack of Fiddle, disturbing" - Darth Vader

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HDuaneaz
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March 6, 2013 - 2:07 pm
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I have had a violin string hit me in the face once, just a little ouch.

 

I had a string break right before a concert once, but not during.

 

Duane

Duane

 

"Violin is one of the joys of my life."

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hackeman
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March 6, 2013 - 3:22 pm
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I personally think that this is one of the most funny violin "accidents":

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v.....tBe3m4gI2g

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Fiddlerman
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March 7, 2013 - 7:39 am
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Just saw this post. Great responses from everyone above.
I always carry extra strings both in my case and in every performing jacket I have. Need to remember to empty my pockets when I bring my jackets or tux to the dry cleaners.
If you are a leader and your string breaks it is traditional to pass the violin back and someone gives them yours. That is not always so sure to work and is never well planned or rehearsed but it did happen to me once. I was just handed another violin without reaching out.
I only broke an E string another time in an orchestra performance and improvised way up on the A string until the piece was over then I quickly reached in my pocket and exchanged the broken string for the good one during the applause.
On stage with the electric violin it has happened many times with my Zeta because the bridge has metal pickups under all for strings. Metal on metal makes for quicker wear and tear especially on the E string.
When this happens I can't grab the other violinists violin because all parts are equally important so I usually crack a joke about what just happened and the rest of the group kind of plays a loop, kind of like an introduction, and I impress the audience by replacing the string super fast and usually get a nice applaud afterwards.....

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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EJ-Kisz
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March 7, 2013 - 11:02 am
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Oh wow, Pierre!  I never knew violinists in concert would exchange violins when one breaks a string!  I've seen violinists do that.....not knowing why of course! LOL  You can't see much from the brass section! ;-)  

Ya know, you can always adopt the "lead guitarist" approach to violin!  Just keep another violin next to you on a stand! ......plus, it gives you another reason to own multiple violins!  dancingdevil-violin

“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” ~Benjamin Franklin

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Picklefish
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March 7, 2013 - 11:21 am
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it just occurred to me where the practice of replacing strings every three to six months has come from...lol. Fear of one breaking I'm sure.

"Please play some wrong notes, so that we know that you are human" - said to Jascha Heifetz.

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fiddlrgrrl
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March 8, 2013 - 8:46 pm
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Thanks everyone, and especially Pierre. That's what I'll do, just have an extra set of strings unobtrusively nearby, maybe an envelope taped to my music folder.  I won't have the lightening speed that Pierre does but it will give me peace of mind.  It would also be nice to be able to help someone else out if it happens to them.

I actually do have a second violin I could take to switch if it happened before intermission.  But I'm sure most of us do not.  This would be an interesting thing to ask our conductor and our concertmistress.

Fiddlrgrrl

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ozmous
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March 8, 2013 - 9:40 pm
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there were also rumours about paganini breaking all strings but one, the G string, but still continued To play.....creating his piece; moses fantasy on G string.

cheers! - ⁰ℨ

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ozmous
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March 8, 2013 - 10:14 pm
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And here's Midori Breaking strings twice....

cheers! - ⁰ℨ

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