I mentioned a mute to Teacher in my last lesson and she pulled a couple out of her case for me to try on.
One was a practice mute – a piece of molded rubber that’s available on the cheap. It slips over the bridge, and when I played with it I was quite surprised at the level of “muting” it provided. I could definitely play with that device at any time, even if Michael happened to be sleeping in the next room! It has a strong impact on tone production, as I suspected it would, and the resonance of the instrument suffers as well. Teacher says there are metal ones that are better for maintaining tone production. I’ve read that some people worry about the impact of metal mutes on the instrument – it’s obviously necessary to take caution when putting metal on a violin so as not to damage it.
After trying on the practice mute, Teacher brought out a performance mute, which goes on the strings in between the fingerboard and the bridge. The mute is just a little plastic disc with some holes/slots in it that slip around the strings. It too provides a muting effect, but not nearly as dramatic as the rubber practice mute. I’ve seen her with this type of mute on her violin before, and I’ve seen other pros playing with them too, and I’ve wondered what they are – now I know! She tells me that it’s somewhat common for orchestral music to call for muted violins.
So I’m slowly coming around to wanting one, and oh how quickly our wants become needs – this past week I’ve been working quite a lot and my practicing suffered – I typically miss Thursday OR Friday, but this week it was both. The 7 am hour beckons – and if my neighbors are none the wiser I’m sure they’ll agree!
Thanks for reading,