Violin Nightmares

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Back in 2007, when I wrote this for my blog at Violinist.com, I would have frequent, disturbing, “new violin owner/player” dreams. Now that my practice is no longer in its infancy, the dreams have faded. I suppose it’s like having a new baby in the house, compared to a teenager (different nightmares now — including waking ones). I was also writing a lot more fiction at the time I penned this. Fun to read, now. Allow me to share.

This first appeared at Violinist.com in 2007

I am in a room with my violin. Outside it is growing dark, a curious purplish haze. I pick up my violin to practice and discover, to my horror, that the bridge has fallen. As I fumble to upright it, the violin neck snaps. I stand there holding the body, neck now dangling limply, connected only by the strings like a demented marionette, and I begin to tremble. I live in the mountains, forty minutes from the nearest violin shop. It’s a Friday and my lesson is on Tuesday. What will I do? What will I do?

An insistent beeping noise commences as red lights begin to flash. A warning, then, that the violin will not make it. I clutch the violin tighter and the seams crumble beneath my hands. Now I am left with planks of wood and dangling strings. That’s it. I have lost my violin.

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The warning bell continues to shriek. Why won’t someone turn it off? Reality finally permeates my consciousness. My eyes fly open, my hand shoots out and fumbles for the alarm clock. Finding the snooze button, I stab it and lie back down, heart hammering, mind racing. A dream. Just a dream. Thank God.

When I get out of bed ten minutes later, I peer into the violin case, just to confirm that the intensity of the dream didn’t somehow affect the violin. It’s fine, snuggled beneath its soft blanket, scroll peeping out like a baby doll’s head. I pull the violin out and hold it for a moment, breathing my relief in and out, in and out.

And so it goes. Yet another broken violin dream.

Then there’s the “my violin is missing” version. I am in a strange room with several other people and I realize I haven’t seen my violin for a while. Could I possibly have left it in my car? Surely not. No, I brought it in. And yet, it’s nowhere in sight. “Where is my violin?” I call out, my voice rising in uncertainty. “Has anyone seen my violin?”

No one responds. Then I recognize a man who’d been standing nearby when I arrived. Surely he would remember. “Excuse me,” I ask him, “where did I set my violin down?”

He is tall and dark-haired, with shaggy, vaguely menacing features. He looks at me now, his face carefully inscrutable. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he says.

He has taken my violin. I can see it in his eyes. I cast a glance all around me. I see polite but blank faces. Carefully blank faces. Like in Rosemary’s Baby. It’s a conspiracy, then. They’ve stolen my violin. They’re going to lie about it. My breath comes faster, in choked little gasps. “Give me back my violin!” My voice has risen to a shriek. My violin is in great danger. I have no idea where it is. I race around the room, panicked now, knowing it is somewhere, terrified that I just might have seen the last of my precious baby.

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“Shhhh.” A pat on my back jerks me out of my nightmare. It is 2am and my strangled cries and convulsive jerks have awakened my husband, who pats me a few times more and then falls back asleep. I, however, have no desire to return to the world of my dreams.

I’ll tell my husband about my dream the next day. He’ll chuckle and shake his head. For him, dreams are vague oddities that you mull over for a few minutes and then never give a second thought to. Not me. My dreams are visceral, disturbing, larger than life. Both these dreams seemed so real, so threatening, that months later, they still make something inside me seize up, run to go check my violin to confirm it is safe and intact.

It is. Whew.

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6 thoughts on “Violin Nightmares

    1. admin Post author

      Paulina, I forever wonder about dreams’ meanings. Fascinating stuff, especially the ones that you can’t draw much sense from.

      Lucky you, that you don’t have bad dreams/nightmares often. I guess I don’t have too many really bad ones, but I have LOTS of dreams (or maybe we all do, and I just remember them), and I can wake up sometimes utterly exhausted from them. Crazy, huh? My husband, lucky man, remembers almost none of his dreams. Wonder what it is that makes some people remember so few, and others seem to almost inhabit a second world, by night?

      Reply
  1. Meredith

    That’s insane, I thought I was the only one who had violin nightmares! I’ve played it since I was 8, and I’ve had weird recurring dreams like that sometimes. The violin comes unglued or crumbles into dust.

    Reply
    1. admin Post author

      Love that you’ve had this experience, too, Meredith! Yes, it’s one of those hilarious (sorta) “I thought I was the only one” things. Thanks for leaving the comment.

      Reply
  2. Cathyanne Nonini

    I frequently have bad violin dreams about my violin and the maker has moved to New Zealand and I can’t reach him – I sent my violin for repair but he never gets back to me. I also have nightmares where I have broken my bow from the 1860s. Sigh.

    Reply
    1. admin Post author

      Oh, I just love hearing other people’s bad violin dreams – thanks so much for sharing, Cathyanne! Interestingly, I had one just the other night. In it, I was so eager to play — others were there playing their instruments, and the tune was easy and fun. But, a problem: I kept pulling my bow across the strings and no damned sound would come out. Over and over I tried. Nada. Even now, days later, fully awake, I remember that dreadful, frustrated/anxious feeling. As if I only needed to TRY HARDER, and it would happen, and I kept trying, and nothing happened, and it was so very, very disappointing. ((Realizing, as I type this, that it’s a therapist’s dream to direct, that I am striving too much, trying too hard, expecting results, yadda, yadda, ya. Dreams are hilarious when you put them down on paper, aren’t they?))

      Thanks for sharing yours! I got vicarious chills of “uh oh…”

      Reply

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