Kenny Leiser of Madison said he could remember loading the violin into his vehicle for the performance but it was missing once he arrived, the (Madison) Wisconsin State Journal reported Wednesday.
The instrument was recovered from the road by a police officer, who searched the black case for identification but found only the Christmas card from one of Leiser's students, 9-year-old J. Innes.
Police called Innes' family to determine whether they had lost a violin and the family realized the police were calling about Leiser's instrument after he told them of how it had gone missing.
Leiser said he contacted the police and recovered his violin.
"It was unbelievable," he said. "I went from being completely down in the dumps to being super excited."
He said the violin is not worth a lot of money, but it was a gift from his father when he was a child.
"It's nothing like a Stradivarius," Leiser told the newspaper. "Its value is really only to me. It has super, super value to me."