When I (Edith) proposed our upcoming demonstration recital to a number of luthiers earlier this spring, one maker who was interested was Francis Beaulieu of Montreal. However, being primarily a viol maker, he told me he wouldn't have a standard violin available at BEMF—but he would have a piccolo violin. I have never even heard live, much less played, a piccolo violin, which is a small violin tuned a minor third higher than the standard violin and known primarily for its solo role in Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 1. Still, since I've wanted for a while to try my hand at the instrument, I have been eagerly anticipating the opportunity for the last two months.
This afternoon I finally got to meet Beaulieu and try out the instrument. It was even smaller than I was expecting (body length approximately one-third less than a full-size violin), but strangely not as difficult to finger as I had feared. (No, my first few attempts were not exactly in tune, but gradually the pitches became recognizable!) And a comparison with the other violins I'll be playing showed that the piccolo violin should be able to hold its own alongside them—provided it can hold its own under the other performance conditions (namely, in a large church and with an organ). The final decision will have to wait, then, until our rehearsal on Thursday evening, but I'm hopeful.