Category: Music and Life
…We have two cats, Hobbes and Brahms (one of them had to be names after a musician!) and a dog, chocolate labrador  – Schubert. This is a photo of him, my violin and his favorite pass time – tennis ball: it is on the photo to the right of him. I can’t recall this dog ever going anywhere ( including my in-laws) without a tennis ball. On the days when I have students coming to our house, he knows the drill: the minute he hears a violin or a viola, he grunts and lays down by the student’s instrument case, patiently waiting until the lesson is over and the tennis balls can once again, become the priority not only of his but our lives. I brought my violin to the barn where my husband was working with horses that day. Of course, Schubert found a tennis from his previous adventures there! 

Heat and instruments

With summer weddings and other events taking place outside, one of major concerns for us as musicians is to protect our violins, violas, and cellos from harsh weather, especially sun, and even in Pittsburgh it can get very hot in the summer!
It is easily understood by everyone that wood cannot be allowed to get wet, but sometimes we are asked why can’t we play in direct sun.  Here is an excerpt from an article on instrument care. 
…”Heat joins sudden change as the other serious menace to instruments. Luthiers purposefully use wood glues which soften when heated (to 145F) so that an instrument can be disassembled for service when necessary. Direct sunlight is hot enough to soften the glues in your instrument and weaken or destroy the joints in the piece. Do not display any instrument anywhere that will be exposed to sun as the light  will damage glue and varnish…”
Here are some things that can be done for musicians if we are to play outdoors.  Provide a tent, gazebo or any sort of overhead protection where the musicians will be playing. There are times when it is impossible.  In that case – position the chairs under a tree or in a shady area: if you are setting up in advance,  you may calculate where the sun will be during that time of day.  You may also consider a second “playing site” in case if the sun moves and starts beating on the musicians.  We have played at weddings, where very thoughtful brides had ready for us two playing areas: one was for the beginning of the ceremony, and the other was preset in case if sun rays reaches us, which they did. Overall, we have never encountered a problem with playing outdoors, and were always able to move our positions based on the sun…