I recently did a three-part series introducing some fiddles I’ve played, along with an explanation of some of the struggles and frustrations I’ve dealt with so far over the years. I thought it would be an interesting way to bring music into my blog, and now I think I will do one more entry (definitely not the last, I’m sure). I thought I would list some of my goals with learning the fiddle, and some of my plans to achieve them.
I have decided that I need to go back to playing my fiddle Aisling again. While I enjoy how T. Fiddle sounds, I can’t possibly continue borrowing it — my friends have been incredibly kind already. I decided that I finally needed to invest in some better strings, and I also found a luthier to fix the bridge the way I prefer. He took the existing bridge and reshaped it so it is flatter, with a better shape and height for playing things like double stops. I picked Aisling up Monday afternoon and finally got the chance to see how she sounded and played. I was very happy! While I need to get used to playing regularly again, and also get used to the new feel of this fiddle — along with breaking in new strings — I already notice a big difference. I just prefer a fiddle bridge over a regular violin bridge. I should have done this years ago. I also intend to keep trying out strings and investing a little more money in them. I definitely want to use a wound E string over a regular steel string — I’d been having a lot of trouble with raspy sound issues driving me crazy whenever I’d play the open E string. The most important part is that I’m excited to play Aisling again (even her tone doesn’t hurt my ears like it used to — it’s not perfect, but it’s better), and I’m looking forward to getting back to regular practices. It will still be a little bit of a challenge working a schedule around my husband’s while he’s at home, but I think we’ll be able to figure things out.
I’ve known what I want from this hobby (I have no interest in joining a band or anything), but I thought I should make an actual list to come up with a plan that would work for me:
- Improve playing and add ornamentation.
- Memorize more tunes and keep up with them again.
- Playing by ear.
It seems like a fairly simple list. I was never able to make much progress due to some of the troubles I had, but I need to start forcing progress to happen more often again, instead of feeling like I’m going backward! One of my plans is to take the Aff the Cuff podcast and pretend I’m at a session and play by ear. I’ll probably stink, but the great thing is I won’t bother anyone. This is one of the reasons I never play at sessions, despite everyone telling me I should. I admit it would be a great opportunity to improve my skills by playing at sessions, but the few times I have tried it have not had good results for me (especially my confidence). I’m just not ready for playing at a session (even in the corner, away from others), even if it’s mostly in my head. If I feel like I’m bothering someone, it really affects how I’m playing. I also don’t like feeling pushed into things. I’ll work up to it eventually, but for now I think this would be better for me (not to mention, more affordable — remember, my husband was laid off, and I don’t want to have to blow a lot of money over time on food, drinks, and gas).
I’m finding myself listening to more sessions (where I can — wish I could find more online), traditional Irish music, and really focusing on listening to fiddle players when I hear them in any songs. One way I’ve made time for thinking about music again is also helping me with something else. I have an app for the Couch to 5K program. I added some songs that play during the program, and for my 30 minute walk after, I listen to the Aff the Cuff podcast. I think a lot about how I would approach songs I hear, if I had a fiddle in my hands at that moment. Not only does it make me excited to eventually start trying to play along, it makes me focus so much that my work out session seems to fly by too quickly! I’m hoping even mentally focusing on the concept and listening will prepare me to start moving forward again once I start kicking some of my plans into gear.
I also have a few DVDs and CDs, various sheet music, and possibly a fiddle teacher (or more) to help me out as well. With everything I’m considering, there has to be a way to start that forward progress again. I need to work out a time with my husband so I can practice without bothering him (or thinking I’m bothering him) while he’s writing and job hunting.
Christopher has been very supportive, helping me get what I need, always showing an interest in my playing, and never cringing when I hit a sour note. I think, through it all, it really helps to have such supportive family and friends!
Hopefully I can work practice in with the sewing I need to start doing. I might not get to do all the events I wanted — I do have to consider other things and the budget we need to stick to, but we’ll see. I just want to stay busy doing things I enjoy!