Electric Violin


A Regular Day at Work

I’ve never actually played an electric violin before this weekend.

Nor did I actually know I was going to be doing so until the Friday before.

It happened something like this.

A week ago, I was asked to play the solo electric violin part (on my regular violin, please note) with two student performers, just to give them a little more confidence for the year-end Christmas concert. They would be able to hear me, since I would be wedged between them onstage, but that was about it. The audience would be listening to them.

So the question was if I wanted to play the fun part for a Trans-Siberian Orchestra piece? Sure. Why not?

Then I realized I had exactly a week and one day to learn the music…

…during university finals week.

Okay. That’s fine. At this point in the year, everything starts to sound like it’s not a bad idea. I can do this.

I would not be perfectly honest if I said I had the piece flawlessly ready for performance by the next Friday for pre-concert rehearsal. But considering I had one week to learn it…I didn’t think it was half bad. Besides, what did I have to worry about? I was pretty much just a human metronome for the two electric soloists.



That Friday, something along the lines of this:

“Hey, do you want to play that part on my electric?”

(slight pause). Well, yes, actually, I would. If you were sure you wouldn’t mind. That would be…really, really fun.

Of course now I was a smidge nervous. There’s no way to hide mistakes on an electric instrument. At least not any that I’ve been made aware of.

So I crammed a little more practice in and hoped for the best.

I didn’t actually try the electric instrument out until warm-ups the day of the concert. I’d tuned one of them, so I was prepared for the weight difference (still somewhat baffled how much heavier electrics are), but…

…okay, I was a little nervous about it.

Every instrument is built a little bit different. The size. The weight. The shape. The height of the bridge, tension of the strings–you get the idea.

But it wasn’t so bad. The piece wasn’t too complicated. Everything felt fine. I was given a very brief crash course on the amp, and away we went.

Concert arrived…

  • I did not zone out during the concert and miss the cue to get onstage.
  • I did not trip over the electric cords in my full-length dress and fall flat on my face (this is usually Concern No. 1 without the extra extension cords coiled under my shoes. It is safe to say I did not wear high heels).
  • I did not forget to flip both switches to turn the sound on.
  • I did not forget to flip both said switches off before removing cord so the audience wasn’t blasted with a loud popping noise (I knew this one without being told).
  • And I did not get horribly nervous and have my fingers/brain lock up and mutually forget all the notes (always a slender possibility with any performer in any performance).

And on the other hand…

  • We played well.
  • It actually was pretty fun.
  • People seemed to like it.
  • The student performers seemed happy, and the director was pleased pink with her concert as a whole (this is without argument the most important thing).

It wasn’t a flawless performance, either. But we weren’t playing for a particularly judgy crowd. And with TSO pieces and a group that’s just in it to make some good music, you really can’t go wrong.

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