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Sunday, October 27, 2013

In principle. By John von Daler

                  You know the situation: it's against your principles, but you need the money.  I had received notice from the musicians' union that there were tryouts for a solo #advertisement for a Danish #beer. They needed a violinist and the job paid about $2000 for a day's work. I talked myself into it mostly because I often drank their beer and we were pretty poor.

                The tryouts took place at an advertisement agency. I was used to television, lights, cameras, the whole entertainment world, so I used all my tricks to try to charm the young woman who filmed the seance and in fact I won.
                Then they told me what I had won. They were making a very simple ad: a violinist is supposed to play something really lousy. He is dressed in a white tuxedo open in the front with a chest full of black hair beneath a gold chain. While he plays his off-key music a hand comes into the picture carrying a tray on which there is a glass of beer. Seeing this enticing beer, the violinist puts down his violin and picks up the beer. As he is drinking a hand steals his violin and smashes it to bits. The violinist looks sad. End of ad.
                I went out to a film studio to earn my two thousand bucks. They dressed me in the tasteless suit and I went to work playing Eine kleine Nachtmusik as badly as I could. I drank seventeen light beers that day. One for each take. Not one of the takes was funny. The beer was boring too. So was I, by the way.
                You know what? I've worked all my life to try to play beautifully on that instrument and when they asked me to play very, very badly, I just could not do it. The melody came out sort of tedious, off-key but not really funny. I think my face probably just looked embarrassed.
                They never used the seventeen takes for anything. The nice part of this story is that they sent me the money anyway. And in some way my principles seem fairly intact too.

My book, Pieces: A Life in Eight Movements and a Prelude (WiDo Publishing) is now available. Order through, the publisher or your local bookstore. Click to buy Pieces at the top of the blog. Please feel free to write a short review of the book in your own language at or GoodReads. Thanks for your support!

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