Unexpected Circusmtances

Published on 21 May 2024 at 22:21

Image by Leah Kouyoumdjian

There are many instances when things might go differently than planned regarding performing or playing competitions. What are some possible situations that can put a dent in our successful performance that we need to be aware of as musicians? What unexpected events can occur that we might face before concerts?

In my first year studying at the university, I was returning home from a long rehearsal in preparation for an evening orchestra concert. I had to travel by bus as I had yet to acquire my driver's license. During this trip, a young boy carrying a skateboard entered the bus and hit the body of my cello quite hard. 

Upon arriving at my house, I checked my instrument and found that the bridge had broken from the hit. I had to be at the concert in a few hours, and there was no time to take my instrument to a violin maker. So, here I was with a broken bridge and needed a cello for the concert.

However, I found a used bridge in my cello accessory box and fitted it on my cello. Of course, the strings became so high that it was virtually impossible to play on the cello. Since a violin maker has to fit a new bridge to a particular string instrument under the said conditions. Otherwise, a random bridge will not work. I had to take what I had for that moment on that day; there was no other way. And I ended up playing the concert that night in that state, with high strings hurting my fingertips. 

I somehow managed to go to that concert and endure the ordeal. However, this experience taught me the importance of resilience and resourcefulness in the face of unexpected events. Despite the challenging circumstances, I persevered. It was an uncomfortable situation, but I managed it somehow. 

After that incident, I made some changes. For example, I bought a hard case and stopped using a soft case. I also acquired my driver's license, which immensely helped me. 

Other circumstances might include our instrument needing to be fixed a few days before our performance, which adds to our stress, and the concert does not become our only worry or concern.

Accidents that occur unexpectedly can never be controlled, but one can take precautions as the situation might result from natural wear and tear. Performers encounter similar situations as these things are common and sometimes can result from usage and practicing for long hours. In that instance, it is highly advisable to make sure that the instrument's parts that require changing, such as strings, are in top shape. This proactive approach can help us feel more in control and prepared for unexpected events.

Therefore, it is wise to control the strings and ensure they are not worn out, as in the case of string instruments. Old strings tend to break easily as they become thin and brittle. There have been many instances of strings breaking during performances. In my case, I opened my cello case one time only to find a string was broken. 

Also, we should control and examine the instrument for cracks and openings if buzzing sounds are coming out, which can become unpleasant while playing.

When a performer decides to remedy such situations, it is important to stay calm and collected. Always be prepared to have extras, additional strings stored in our cases, an extra bow, and perhaps a spare instrument at home. And as taking an instrument to the violin shop at the last minute will be challenging, it will be wise to take the appropriate steps for emergencies. Checking and taking proper care of our instruments is crucial to avoid experiencing unpleasant situations.

And in case you have to end up with a bridge like mine at a concert, do your best and try to remain cheerful. Remember, even in the most challenging situations, there is always a way to make the best of it. This mindset of optimism and adaptability can help you navigate through unexpected events with grace.

What unexpected situations have you faced in a performance that you had to deal with differently? Please share with us in the comments section below. 

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