Is Your Violin Case a Zen Garden or a Junk Drawer?

Zen gardens, minimalist and organized, are thought to encourage contemplation and perhaps enlightenment. Junk drawers, while arguably fascinating and useful, are far from relaxing or enlightening. But couldn’t the visual stimulation and juxtaposition of objects inspire creativity? It reminds me of a plaque I read on a friend’s wall: “Dull people have immaculate houses”. What, if any, relationship does organization of supplies have on performance? When playing with other musicians, I’m fascinated by their instrument cases. Some players keep a minimalist, Zen garden-like case. Others have a less rigid approach, keeping their cases more like, well, junk drawers. Many players tuck a photo(s) of special people or animals tucked in the bow ribbon, and almost everyone seems to keep a shoulder rest, a bow and a tuner on hand. Would you consider your instrument case more like a Zen garden or a junk drawer?

Mine is a little of both. On one hand, I try to keep my case clean, organized and stocked with useful items. On the other hand, I have a plastic sandwich bag, batteries (the quintessential junk drawer item) and packet of tic-tacs purchased circa 2007 in there. Articles come and go from the case based on what I’m doing, but here’s what’s in my case *right now*:

* A violin
* A shoulder rest
* Two violin bows
* Peg Dope
* L’Opéra Jade Rosin
* Cherry passion flavored tic-tacs (see above)
* Embroidered ornaments from a wedding performance
* Extra violin strings (new strings in tube)
* Used violin strings in plastic bag (see above) for emergency use
* A Korg tuner
* A Seiko metronome
* Two AA batteries (see above)
* A fingernail clipper
* A clip-on pick-up and audio cord (in front pocket)
* A turquoise marble (pre-twinkle exercises)

What’s in your instrument case? Do you keep a Zen garden-like minimal case: violin, bow, rosin – or is your case brimming over with post-it notes, memorabilia and used tea-bags? More importantly, does it matter? In a perfect world, what *would* be in your instrument case?



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