This is Alyce, I have been concertmaster last 3 years and absolutely love playing in Playa conditions. From my experience I find it takes a bit of extra attention to your hands especially if your hands are sensitive to dry conditions… The first year I had cracks on my fingers and my hands hurt a lot. Then I figured some stuff out I would like to share.
I use a small spray bottle and mix white vinegar with water use 1:4 ratio. Carry this bottle around so before you play you can refresh your skin and make it sensitive to the strings again. I carry a dry washcloth and wipe off the vinegar mist then use a natural hand cream to lock in any moisture that I can. In between playing a rehearsal or concert and riding on the bike I wear simple cotton gloves. This not only keeps your hands from splitting cracks but also protects from the sun hitting hard. (Gloves I found in drug store cosmetic aisle) 100% cotton works great. They are really quite thin but sturdy. Ok, also this sound weird but I also have to use vaseline once a day in the gloves to do an extra moisture boost. Wearing the gloves really helps before playing. My second year I brought 2 pairs with me and 3rd year more.
For the violin strings, (works on any viola, cello, double bass too) I use individually wrapped alcohol prep pads to wipe down the entire length of string. Lots of dusts can settle in and make string sound dull. This helps keep them bright and clear. Just be careful not to let the alcohol touch wood varnish. It will spot. It’s perfectly safe to use the alcohol on the fingerboard, it doesn’t hurt the fingerboard at all…
I wrap my violin in a large cotton bandana type shaped cloth and ok to moisten that as well. To combat the bow hair drying and shrinking up (you’ll find its difficult to loosen a bow after a few days on Playa). I use a misting water spray and gently spray the inside of my entire case. (which I ALWAYS keep shut after getting violin out etc) I also go so far as to spray / lightly mist the actual bow hair. Any moisture helps to prevent shrinkage on that stick.
I carry pure cotton (cut up white T shirt material) and try to wipe dust off the actual bow hair each time I put it away. The playa dust can make your bow feel slippery if it gets into the hair too. Obviously dust is going to get into everything but this little bit of removal might help your bow hair feel like it grips and accepts resin. If it gets gunkked I use a soft toothbrush to try to dislodge extra dust. I carry 2 bows and wait until one is shot then bring out the other. They are both carbon fiber — non wood bows and because you all know how I love to play alot I also have a 3rd spare bow in my van which I use for practicing inside if wind is blowing.
Music on the stand; Paper blows easily so my first choice is the large wooden music clips about 8 inches long with a plastic side you can see thru to see notes. However, even clothespins would help a lot. One for each corner and maybe plus for middle. I have never been able to use the metal clips just because I am not fast with them… So I like wood clips.
I print all my music on a heavy duty paper its almost a cardboard quality heaviness, kinda chunky but very glad to have it strong rather than rips. Sometimes I tape card board to sheet music to make it non bending. So, think wind may kick up and you’ll want to secure the music to itself and the stand.
String breakage; I knock on wood haven’t had it happen on Playa. But I also use a pencil and put graphite on the grooves at the nut as well as grooves on the bridge to make string glide and less friction at those stress points. Sharpen a pencil and literally color in the grooves. I do it year round.
Bring any spare string you can even if they are used, you may need them. I bring a carbon violin instrument. If I didn’t have one I would choose to bring a basic the student model violin/ instrument. Usually these instruments are glued really well and less finicky than older wood. Fine tuners really help. If your pegs become loose try misting the hole with water and shove the peg in while its still damp. This is where fine tuners are helpful, easier than peg turning. Mostly, when the wood dries the pegs slip a bit.
IN GENERAL, I wipe entire violin and bow stick off of dust once a day.
OK, so this sounds a bit like too much information. But this works for me and keeps me flexible.
_Alyce Bertz -BRP Concertmaster