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Taking a violin to Europe

My childern (21 and 17) and I are going to Europe for the first time next May-June. My daughter wants to take her best friend (also 17) with us. This friend is a serious violinist and the only way her parents would let her go is if she could take her violin along. My question is not so much about her taking it, but the feasibility of practicing an hour a day or two hours every other day (minimum). We are planning on hostels/small inns. Would practicing a violin be allowed?

Posted by
852 posts

Some inexperienced musicians find isolated places to practice their arts - bagpipes, for example. Others, with acknowledged talent, play for pay in public places... Good Luck! P.

Posted by
9363 posts

This sounds like a lot of trouble to go to, not for your own child, but for her friend. What are the rest of you supposed to be doing while she practices? Do you want to have to tailor your itinerary around her when it's really your trip? Keep in mind that some hostels are closed during the daytime hours, so you would not have access to your rooms.

Posted by
1717 posts

As a general rule, I do not recommend bringing a valuable musical instrument to Europe. If she brings the violin, I suggest that she loosen the strings before putting it in an aiplane. Because when the airplane is at a high altitude, it can cause the strings to become tighter. I am a musician, and I think leaving the violin at home, and not playing the violin for two or three weeks will not do her any harm. It is not like playing a trumpet : a trumpet player's lips must buzz on the mouth piece every day, for the lips to remain conditioned to the mouth piece, because the vibrating lips is what produces the musical tone. Sometimes taking a break from playing a musical instrument for a couple of weeks is good, when she goes back home and to her violin she will have renewed enthusiasm for playing it. She could tell her mother she needs to go away on a vacation from her violin.

Posted by
705 posts

Wow I don't envy you, what a dilema. I would try to find some way persuading her parents she can't/doesn't need to take the violin with her. There are lots of possible problems with this. It may be damaged on the flight, it may be stolen, fellow guests may not appreciate being serenaded for an hour or two each day.
I'm sure a break of a couple of weeks wouldn't be a problem and she would return refreshed and ready to get back to practice. Good luck.

Posted by
7205 posts

We purchased a violin while in Mittenwald one year. Even though it was an exciting purchase, we only had to deal with it while traveling in Europe and also bringing it home. Traveling with it was not enjoyable. For example, we were traveling by car and stopped to visit Dachau while traveling through Munich on our way to somewhere else. We parked, but we couldn't leave the instrument in the car because it was too hot and also for fear of theft. We had to carry the violin in its case all around Dachau with us. That's just one example of the inconvenience. Yes, I would buy a violin and bring it home again. But I would NOT under any circumstance haul an instrument over and back just so the kid can practice. That's pretty ridiculous!

Just say NO!

Posted by
221 posts

poor kid. I would agree that experiencing the musical history of Europe could be much more advantageous to this kid than dragging along her instrument and worrying about it. here is a compromise for the parents, I didn't know where you are going but maybe she could take some classes. For example in Ireland, there are music schools all over and many of them cater to visitors wanting to experience Irish music, she could perhaps rent an instrument and attend a few workshops...Salzburg has music schools as well that may offer workshops for visitors.

Posted by
710 posts

As a recently retired music teacher, I would hope her parents would let her go and expericence Europe with you and your family. I play the cello and never dragged it on vacations growing up. Neither my parent or I even thougt of that as an option. Vacation is "vacation" and I always came back and started to play and practice. There is so much to experience in Europe. Her life will be much richer from the experience of traveling aboad and being exposed to other people and countries. I am sure you will go to some concerts while you are there and run into people playing music or dancing, etc. I think the trip will be part of her overall enrichment of her education. I have never regretted any of my travel experiences. Seeing other countries gave me a deeper understanding and appreciation of the music that was written at given times in their history. I was interesting to see and hear how the folk music of each country and what was happening at different times in the history of each country

Posted by
710 posts

(continued from previous post)
influenced the music being written. When she sees others performing, she will probably want to be apart of that. She will come home refreshed and enlivened and ready to practice probably even more then before she left. I hope she gets to go with you. I hope her parents let her have this unforgettable gift of travel you are offering to her.

Posted by
4 posts

Good grief, what a restriction. I for one would not want the responsibility of caring for another's child but also for a valuable instrument. Where do her parents think she is going to practice and when, and why when she is visiting some of the oldest cities in the western world? I would either say sorry I guess your daughter can't join us at this time or just not rehearse when on your trip except in a large open field. This is unless of course your hostel/small inn guests are okay with it all? Maybe leave it at your house under a laundry pile? Remember it is YOUR first-time Europe and as a parent, I would be pleased if my child were invited to travel. I would not insist he take his drums! Best of luck in your quest to find lodging that will accomodate your daughter's friend's musical aspirations.

Posted by
48 posts

Thanks to all who answered. I don't want this girl's parents to sound like the villians here. She decided to play the violin at age 4, and now practices at least four hours a day. She's a straight A student in all honor classes, and graduted from High School at the end of her Junior year (at 16 and 1/2). Two weeks after we get back from Europe, she will be going (again) to a violin camp for a month, and this fall she will be going to a music conservatory. So this is very serious stuff for her too, and she's not sure about giving up practice for that long either. That said, I think that I will try to convince all three of them of the educational experience (with the emphasis on music) that this trip would be without risking the violin.

Posted by
6 posts

I noticed while googling that they make mutes for violins so you might suggest that she look into purchasing one. Also if she brings a violin hopefully it won't be her favorite/best in case something does happen.

Posted by
582 posts

I find this topic very interesting. I am a professional flutist and my Dad was a violin professor. My parents were VERY STRICT about me practicing everyday, BUT, when on vacation, they let their hair down and let me leave my flute at home. Even my Dad, the violin professor, would leave his violin in a safe before leaving town, but would bring his violin only if he had to perform or do a master class.
If this child's parents insist on her bringing her violin, if she has a second violin that is less expensive, she should bring that. If she brings her expensive violin, I hope she has very good instrument insurance for it.
But come on, let the kid leave her violin at home for once. Sometimes after a break, she will play better than ever. More relaxed.
My Dad was concert master in many different symphonies, so because of my back ground, I hope I was a help here.