Boy hit in eye by flying violin peg

A boy of 14 claims his eye was damaged when a tuning peg broke free from his violin and was hurled into his eye by force of the string it had held in place.

His mother is suing the school.

Story here.

tuning up violin

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  • This is either a freak accident and/or a very suspicious claim. I suspect tampering, either on the part of the student or another student.

    It would be interesting to know how this young man felt about playing the violin. Wondering if it’s something his mother was making him do. Kids will go thru unbelievable lengths to avoid playing an instrument they don’t like. Maybe he didn’t expect it to have such serious consequences, but it sounds to me like sabotage.

    I’m not a violinist, but I’m a prof. orch player and I’ve never heard of anything like this happening to any violinist in my life. It’s just a really improbable scenario.

  • My sympathy to the young boy, but this is a very unusual story indeed.

    Sevcik the great pedagogue was of course blinded in one eye by a breaking E-string, but I don’t even understand how a tuning peg could go in the direction of an eye.

  • Freak accident doesn’t mean it can’t happen.

    Given the tension the strings under and the fact that they are generally in line with the face… I’m surprised such accidents are not more common. It doesn’t take much to hurt an eye.

    I play a cello and it stung my finger when a string broke while I was playing it.

    I’m a little confused by the article’s term “tuning screw” on the neck end of a violin.

    $30,000? That will get settled out of court.

    • Yes, maybe the journalist has confused the tuning screw with the peg? Two completely different ends of the string. I can’t easily imagine how a peg would fly towards the eye… even if it maybe shattered?

      • Indeed. The story as stated does not ring true. In my experience strings tend to break at the bridge end of the instrument – far less frequently at the peg box end – so the majority of the broken string is flying away from the player rather than towards. Covered (over-wound) strings can fray at the peg box end of the string where the left hand fingers are in most regular contact, but in that case most people would change them before they break. Very occasionally the tail gut will break (see the famous Yuri Bashmet video) and even less frequently the tuning peg will break (as described by Muriel Nissel in her book on the Amadeus Quartet) but this “tale of the flying violin peg” I’m afraid defies belief.

        • If you go read reviews of inexpensive string instruments at Amazon you’ll read claims like “the tuning peg just snapped off in my hand!”

          There are millions of pegs out there and one has failed in a freakish manner. I can imagine a fragment getting hurled.

          Yeah, it’s remotely plausible. It only has to happen once and for the kid with the eye, once is enough.

          Is the school liable? They would be for a kid injured in a science class explosion or gym class injury.

  • While this situation is very clearly improbable to us as prof. musicians, the poor music teacher of this young man and as well the Newport-Mesa School District where it occured, are no doubt mired in fears of legal complications and a lawsuit right now.

    Music programs, esp. orchestral music programs in most US public schools (particularly in California where this occured) have been cut to bare bones, if they exist at all. Now this
    public school district, which has carefully preserved its orchestral program and the music teacher who’s been successful at keeping the program alive, and is already no doubt overworked and underpaid, are being faced with a heinous legal accusation which may or may not be valid.

    The situation has implications for all struggling public school orchestral programs. It’s so much easier for the District to just cut the program rather than deal with angry mothers and lawsuits. That’s why this mother’s lawsuit is a potential nightmare. The school probably barely has enough money to keep the orchestral program going, how are they going to manage a lawsuit?

    The fact that the mother’s attorneys are looking into suing the maker of the violin (which they couldn’t determine) shows us that they are looking for someone to blame, an entity with resources with whom they can seek financial compensation. That shouldn’t have to be the school district, who provided music instruction and the violin at no cost to the student.

    I believe it’s the responsiblity of the prof. music community to stand up for this music teacher and the Newport Mesa School District. We know that this scenario is very very improbable. Be it tampering, or a false accusation of a peg flying off in a physically impossible direction, it just doesn’t sound right.

    My heart goes out to the young man who was injured, but please, neither the music teacher or the school district should have to endure a lawsuit for doing their best to provide a public school orchestral program for their students.

    For any professional violinists or luthiers or others who wish to contact the Newport Mesa School District to offer expert opinions, support or suggestions on how best to handle this situation, their email contact is:

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