Loss of violin is hard for family to accept

February 24, 2012|Lisa Prejean

Four years ago, my son started taking violin lessons.

Like many families do, we opted for a rental plan to see if a string instrument would be a good fit. Many stores that offer instruments have rent-to-own programs, which allow families to make monthly payments. If a budding musician sticks with the craft, the parents have made an investment. 

We watched — and listened — as our son progressed on the instrument.

As he stuck with the craft, the sound filled our home, and the experience was wonderful.

His performances progressed from our living room to other platforms at school and church. At times, I felt the violin was an extension of him.

"I love to watch your son play violin," a friend once told me. "He just seems to enjoy it so much."

Yes, and that's one of the reasons why it was wonderful. If a musician loves playing his or her instrument, the performance is a joy to watch.

On a recent Sunday night, that joy was temporarily silenced in our home by one simple mistake.

Before I explain what happened, let me stress that my intent in sharing this story is not to embarrass my son. He is extremely responsible and very careful with his belongings.

My intent is to inform other parents of something we did not know. Had we known, we could have prevented a financial loss.

This story starts and ends with an act of kindness. Because the outside temperature was in the 20s and the wind gusts made it feel even colder, my son decided to get the van for us, warm it up and bring it to the church door. That way, we wouldn't become cold as we made our way to the van. He headed out the door with his hands full of belongings.

When he discovered that the van was locked, he came back inside. First, though, he placed what was in his hands on top of the van instead of carrying everything back inside.

Among those items? His violin.

He came back in the church, asked me for the key and went back to retrieve the van, glad to be of service.

After unlocking the van, he started the engine and pulled up to the door. We hopped in, and he drove off.

As we were leaving the church parking lot, we noticed that something on the van didn't sound right. There were bumping sounds on the roof.

"Oh, my stuff," my son said as he slammed on the brakes.

"Your violin?" I asked frantically.

He jumped out from one side. I jumped out from the other.

As he checked the top of the van, I started running back up the hill.

About that time, I saw the brake lights on the car behind us, and I knew.

The violin, which had been in a black case, had fallen off the roof of the van. It was impossible to see at night. The driver behind us tried to stop but could not.

The violin was destroyed.

After consoling my son and shedding some tears of my own, I made a call to our insurance company. Our homeowners' policy has a $500 deductible. If we claimed the violin, our policy would increase for three years.

However, if we would have had Scheduled Personal Property coverage or what is commonly called a "rider" on the violin — at a cost of less than $20 per year — the violin would have been covered in full.

Herein lies the purpose for this article. If your child plays a musical instrument, the extra insurance is well worth it. We would have paid less than $80 over the course of four years to replace an instrument that cost 10 times as much.

I wish I would have known, but if by sharing my experience I can prevent another family from financial loss, at least the frustration will not have been in vain.

Thankfully, the story doesn't end here. Fellow musicians have been so kind and supportive.

A friend has graciously allowed my son to borrow his violin until we can rent another one. Within less than a week, beautiful music was coming from our living room again.

That's something insurance can't buy, but it certainly can support.

Lisa Tedrick Prejean writes a weekly column for The Herald-Mail's Family page. Send email to

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