Just in case

By Maxine Kwok Adams  -  21 March 2015


I'm always amazed when I take my violin for his MOT at the lightness of my Musafia case. Obviously I empty out everything that's unnecessary but does it all really weigh that much? I'm hardly lugging around the complete Brahms sonatas in the music pocket.

I decided to do an inventory...


1 Violin wrapped in silk scarf
3 bows
Rosin in box
Shoulder-rest
3 small cloths
4 photos of my nearest and dearest
Pencil case with numerous pencils, eraser, pens and sharpener, safety pins, spare mute, very loud blingy joke spare mute to be leant to someone in a prominent position like the leader, heavy metal (literally, not for rock bands..) practise mute, hair clip, spare shoulder-rest leg, band-aid.
In a clear plastic bag which can easily be removed for flights - pair of spare contact lenses, lip balm, red lipstick, eye liner, teeny tiny powder compact.
In the music pocket - spare strings, cough sweets, tissues, fan printed with "air con", Small magazine/catalogue for discreet reading in sessions, couple of A4 sheets with section rota lists, various half eaten breakfast bars yuck..

It does seem an awful lot but what can I do without? I envisage so many scenarios, one of which is a recurring nightmare about arriving without make-up at a concert as my colleagues are filing onstage. Mind you if that happened in real life I'd end up looking like Bette Davis in "Whatever happened to baby Jane?" as I hastily scrawled on some lippie whilst tuning up.

I recently started carrying the shoulder-rest leg with me after a concert in Italy where my shoulder-rest gave way. I therefore performed the second half (Prokoviev 5th symphony) with my shoulder-rest bound up by with green electrical tape. (Thanks to very helpful backstage staff.) However it wasn't ideal as I kept feeling it all collapsing (not fun when swooping up four octaves) and I therefore did not dare put my violin down all symphony.

The humble safety pin doesn't weigh much and they sure as hell get you out of some very awkward situations. #dressmalfunction

Practise mutes would ideally be kept at home but we're often asked to use them in either contemporary works or in film sessions for super-quiet effects.

Well I can't find anything that can possibly be left out.. although.. the magazine could double as a fan - that's a start! I guess my motto is, be prepared. (and be prepared to have a sore arm and shoulder)





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About Maxine Kwok Adams

Fashion correspondent and violinist of the London Symphony Orchestra

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