Two fiddles, two bows, and a few strings later, I was starting to really question continuing with this. It really wasn’t lack of practice — I actually had to force myself to stop playing so much since I would play off and on for most of the day the first few years at least.
After a month or two of not doing much more than occasionally picking up a fiddle and playing one or two songs, I was about as rusty as I could be. My musician friends, C. and T. (who loaned me T. Fiddle), invited us over to their place for a pre-Christmas dinner and we had an enjoyable evening. Wonderful food, drinks, and a few games of darts. We eventually ended up chatting about music and although I didn’t bring an instrument, I ended up with a fiddle in my hands as C. wandered off to do something. T. was playing mandolin and banjo that evening and waited to see what I’d play.
My mind was blank! I hadn’t played in a while, and I had even forgotten the names of songs, much less how they went. The other problem is that I get shy around others. I played on my own for so long (even my husband rarely heard me play), that when I would play in front of others, I’d forget the music or mess up horribly. Sometimes it felt as if I had never played before! I struggled to remember a few tunes, and T. joined me along with C. on mandolin here and there. They were both incredibly patient, but I started relaxing a little more (as much as I could under the circumstances).
Even with not having practiced for a long while, barely remembering tunes, feeling a bit tipsy from drink — somehow I was starting to get into it and play! I loved it! My only regret it is that I couldn’t remember enough tunes to do more.
What happened? P. Fiddle (named after the person who made the fiddle), and a really nice bow. While I still struggled, most of that was due to being rusty. I hit sour notes. I messed up and forgot bits, but I was playing with others! It made me realize that I need to give myself a break and admit that even though some of my issues are my own fault from being self-taught, I might just need better tools. Sure, a great musician could probably play anything and make it sound good, but I’m not trained like that. I like the feel of a well-balanced bow, a bridge that I feel comfortable with (P. Fiddle has a fiddle bridge), and a well-made instrument that’s a little higher up in quality. Not to mention strings that are a little more of an investment. I remembered how even breaking in a new bow or new strings made me have to slow down and let things settle in, almost as much as old strings threw me off.
While I may not be the best musician — far from it actually — I need to remember these things and cut myself some slack. Some day, I’ll finally feel comfortable enough to join in sessions. Some day, I’ll finally invest in a nice bow and fiddle, and keep up with new, quality strings. I’ve probably made things harder on myself all these years, but intead of being annoyed, I’ll just have to learn from my mistakes and experiences. After all, it would be a shame to just throw all that time and work away and never follow through, all because of a few annoyances holding me back like that.
Still, it’s nice to be reminded that it’s not all just me fumbling around not knowing exactly what I’m doing and feeling incredibly clumsy.
Photo Credit: My musician friend, C.S.