The Proof is in the Pudding

By now, Alex and I have hammered and hammered and hammered home time and again the point that the violin needs to be glued up with hide glue, the reason being that we need to be able to dismantle the instrument completely without damage. This topic is even repeated in the multiple newspaper articles which have been appearing regarding our work. We never grow tired of singing the praises of the miracle substance hide glue. Nor do we grow weary of trumpeting this message to the public.

Just this morning, we arrived early in the workshop and decided to interrupt the tranquility of the neighborhood by playing a few happy tunes on the fiddles for one of the guys in the course who seems to mightily enjoy our music. Somewhere in the middle of the second tune, Alex suddenly stopped playing and began making the strangest faces. I couldn’t figure out what had happened… Was she suffering the onset of some mysterious ailment? Was an invader climbing through the window? I looked behind me to make sure my back was safe. What happened??? Then she showed me that her violin (which by the way she made herself) had decided that it had just had enough of this dreadful cyclone monsoon humid weather, and the ebony fingerboard quite simply fell off into the palm of her left hand during the tune. No damage of course, just a parting of ways without acrimony. We all enjoyed a wonderfully mirthful moment about the incident, then immediately re-glued the fingerboard back onto the neck in its proper position, enjoying the hilarity of this teachable moment. By evening time, the instrument was ready to go again, even though the drying time of the glue is prolonged considerably by the humid conditions.

We were in the violin workshop, with the glue pot handy, so our journey to get the repair taken care of was short. The service personnel were polite and very friendly, and more than pleased to attend to this small job immediately. And of course, the cost of repair was modest.

The Chennai violinist might have to suffer the inconvenience of traveling across town to enjoy the same level of service. The less fortunate violinist might even need to make a trip of several hours to get this small issue of maintenance taken care of. Violinists in the West understand this. It is our job to bring this understanding to the violinists of India.

3 thoughts on “The Proof is in the Pudding

  1. chris gruer

    Hi Jim and Alex,
    I had not kept up day by day and so am putting in a reply solely on the last post of the 2015 course. Thanks so very much for all that you have been doing and especially for sharing it all in the blog here. Maybe it is best this way so I can simple list my favorite reports as (in NO order of any kind): the intro to your four fabulous students, the explication of Indian languages in relation to German (!), the sloshy first days of your visit, the wonderful “student impressions” of their teachers! And if I left a blog out I apologize, whatever it was l liked it too.
    Sorry I will miss you next weekend in SB, but hoping to get together with you some time if February/March

  2. Susanne and Benjamin Sawyer

    Jim & Alex–

    This story of the teachable moment was really quite touching. It reminds me of the story of one of the Anacapas having her instrument (I believe cello, therefore Holly) come apart on a tour they were doing in Central America or someplace humid like that.

    By the way, even after all these years I still miss them.

    1. James Wimmer

      Not only did the ‘cello come apart, it came apart in a very strange way and required being left to sit in our dry climate for 7-10 days before it could be re-assembled. I experienced similar problems with instruments in Chennai.


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