As I mentioned in my first entry, Aisling was no longer working out for me. I didn’t want to go through a lot of money and trouble to find those “perfect” strings, because I had a feeling no matter what I tried, I’d be disappointed. It’s a low-end fiddle, and I’m sure there is only so much I can do (I would love to replace the bridge, but wondered if even that would be worthwhile). There was just something about Aisling’s tone that literally hurt my ears. Plus, I just felt clumsy like I had no idea what I was doing (and I was definitely practicing enough). I chatted with my fiddle/mandolin-playing friend, C., and her banjo/fiddle/mandolin-playing husband, T. They loaned me T. Fiddle (I named it after her husband — T. Fiddle is one of his two fiddles). I was excited to try another instrument to see what I might like about this one, and to see if it would help me. The tone was also a lot warmer to my ears.
Not only was I excited to try another fiddle, it seemed to be working! I started feeling like I was making progress again. It was a HUGE help, and a much appreciated gesture from friends. There were a few quirks I had to get used to. T. Fiddle is a little more touchy to temperature changes, so I had a fight with the strings depending on how hot or cold it was. In summer, the wood expands so much I can’t budge the pegs. In winter, they not only come out of tune, I’ve found a peg on the floor after getting spit out from the string unwinding so hard! There are some things I would love to have if I ever buy another fiddle, so trying another one has been a big help.
Unfortunately, I started having more problems again. I’m self-taught, so I probably have some bad habits that keep me from progressing until I discover and fix them. I had some issues with sore hands. My left hand would not relax, no matter how hard I tried, and eventually even my right — the bowing hand — ended up stiff and sore. I tried my best to limit practice times, to ease into faster songs, and just to relax. I ended up letting the fiddles sit for a while out of frustration, and because the holidays were keeping me busy. My husband ended up laid off a few days before Christmas, so I didn’t want to disturb him with my practicing while he was trying to write, job hunt, or deal with important paperwork. If I feel like I’m going to be disturbing someone, which happens when I don’t feel confident, it’s a vicious cycle and I get worse and worse.
I started questioning my ability to play the fiddle. I didn’t want to stop, but I didn’t want to hate it either.
Next Monday: My realization, and another fiddle!