Why your case should be newer than your violin

Patty Mitchell asks the right question about the Case of The Frangible Fiddle:

But what I want to know is … what the heck kind of case was he using
that apparently didn’t protect the valuable instrument at all? Are all
violin cases that fragile? Or was it just the crashing to the ground,
not the crashing on to the case that did the damage? (I’m
guessing an oboe in it’s case wouldn’t fare well either, but not
because of the owner landing on the case so much as the slamming to the
ground.)

What was he using for a case? A plastic bag? I’ve had several memorable falls with viola case in hand. Once I slipped on the ice and fell right on top of the case. A couple of years ago I took a bad tumble on an uneven sidewalk, which sent my case flying and resulted in a broken fourth finger and eight weeks of enforced rest. In neither case was there more damage to my fiddle than a string or two being knocked out of tune. I even fell off a stage during a performance of the Brahms C minor piano quartet – in mid-phrase yet – and managed to keep my instrument above my head and undamaged (fortunately it was a very low stage and the steps down were carpeted, so I wasn’t damaged either, except in terms of never ever living the incident down).

It’s amazing that instruments don’t get damaged more often, given the close quarters we inhabit on stage and the seeming casualness with which we handle these delicate and valuable artifacts (one of our cellists twirls his old Italian cello on its endpin on occasion when bored; my heart skips a few beats every time I see him do that). I suspect we develop a very acute sense of where the instrument ends and danger begins, as my instinctive reaction in raising my instrument when falling backwards proved. I know how uneasy I get whenever my scroll threatens to get too close to our assistant principal cellist’s frog, which is not very close at all.

But splintering a million-pound Strad because of a lousy case? If I were that guy’s insurance company, I’d be pissed.

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One Response to “Why your case should be newer than your violin”

  1. some oboe player Says:

    Thanks for this, Robert. I was really astounded to read that his violin was so damaged. Of course another part of me wondered about all the free publicity he is getting due to this incident!

    Maybe insurance companies will start to require that we all have good cases? I wonder.

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