I have been playing the violin since I was five and a half years old. Unlike my father's wishes, I did not become a professional violinist as my technical side was stronger and brought me to engineering.
What I would definitely like to do is play violin in micro-gravity, for example on the International Space Station. Even though musical instruments have been in space, as far as I can tell playing a violin or any other bowed instrument in space would be a first.
(On the right: a photo of my violin I took in February 2009)
Getting There What's the oldest human created artifact that ever reached orbit? Not sure. Amelia Earhart Watch, to be flown into orbit with STS-129 on 11/16 is probably around ninety to a hundred years old and may be the oldest to date, but then again, my violin is over a hundred and fifty years old. I'll go on a limb and say that it would at least be the oldest musical instrument to have made it to orbit.
Will the violin get there in one piece? Whilst a violin is pretty delicate, it is structured to handle the pressure of the strings against the bridge and between the scroll and tail piece (where the strings are attached). What worries me is the vibration during the launch. Solution for that would be any of the vibration isolation options out there, for the entire craft or even as simple as vibration isolation feet.
Playing Why would playing the violin in space be interesting? Well, playing the violin counts on gravity more than may be initially obvious.
Violin players stands up and count on gravity to keep them where they are. With all the broad hand movements violin playing entails, unless the player is tethered, it might be pretty strange to watch the drifting of the body compensating for the rapid hand movements and expressive body movements violinists are known for.
Moreover, gravity playes a part in the interaction of the bow with the strings. True, the right hand presses on the bow and controls it, but I can imagine playing the violin will demand more pressure and would take time getting used to. Also, bouncing bow techniques such as spiccato would require adaptation to the lack of gravity.
Another issue would be the rosin - usually rosin dust falls off the bow while playing onto the violin. In micro-gravity it would probably be thrown to the sides much more than fall down. That dust would find its way to the air filtering system and people's lungs unless they wear a face mask.
What would I play? Well, what better than "Hine Ma Tov" - How good it is when brothers live together in peace, an old song that fits the unity the International Space Station and hopefully space endeavors that will follow symbolize.
Sound How would a violin sound on the ISS? probably the same. Since air pressure and composition on the ISS is very similar to that on Earth at sea level and based on how normal astronauts sound on NASA TV, it is safe to assume a violin will sound on the space station like it sounds on earth. So parents to kids just learning how to play - sending them to the space station won't make it sound any better...
Personal I'm sure my late violin teacher would be proud and my father (who at almost ninety years old, still wishes that I play my violin a little more) would be very happy to see me play the violin in space. To achieve that I either need to become an astronaut or make enough money and be a space tourist.