The Violin Channel member Jason Tong was keen to know: ‘What is the most professional way to handle a broken string during a performance?’
We threw Jason’s question over the Canadian violin virtuoso, James Ehnes.
Great question. I would say the answer would depend very much on the circumstance, though.
When performing with an orchestra, I think it’s best to quickly swap violins with the Concertmaster. This does happen to me every few seasons, and the switch always seems to take forever with your adrenaline going like crazy, but for the audience, I’m told, it usually appears lightning-quick!
If one is performing alone, with piano, or in a chamber group, I think it’s best to stop, explain to the audience what’s happened and change the string off stage.
(Which is why it’s important to always have a spare set of strings in your case – preferably an old set that are already stretched out)
Finishing a piece on the lower strings a-la-Paganini-style seems a little silly to me.
Mind you, I did once break an E string about 8 seconds from the end of a concerto – so finishing on the lower strings was my only real option. It worked out – more or less! : )
I hope that helped, Jason? Thanks for your question. Thanks VC. All the best – James’
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