Posted in Fiddle Progress Report

8 Month Fiddle Progress Report

This progress report is both happy and a little sad.

On one hand, I’m happy that I managed to pick up my fiddle and start playing again. In the past month, I only missed one practice day, which is amazing! On top of that, there were a few days that I didn’t quite make the full 30 mins allotment, but for the most part, I did. Also amazing!

It’s a little sad because I feel like after falling out of practice for two months, I rolled back to starting from the beginning again. Okay, so not the very, very beginning. I did retain some information – like holding the violin, the bow hold, and a bit of built-up stamina that was still there. So it wasn’t completely back to nothing.

Starting over, however, let me jump into practicing a completely different method with different goals. After a full month of doing this, I feel like this was a good move to make. I’m much more focused on learning by ear and picking up new songs more slowly.

Part of this is because I’m really working to know that I’ve not just memorized a song but that it sounds at the quality level I want (more or less) before I pick up something new. The tunes in the EEI book were shorter, somewhat less complex, and focused on learning to read notes rather than memorize the tune.

I feel this new method is more challenging, but more rewarding. I’m having days where I’m drilling the same songs, working to get certain passages to sound well, playing slowly and working up in tempo… and I feel like this approach is more what I should be doing. I also feel like the songs I’m playing are actual songs. Not just children’s jingles (though there was Twinkle in there, of course).

The truth is, to make that switch, I would have needed to start over again and make a major shift in my playing perspective. So maybe this was all for the better.

I’ve spent time setting up an online practice log and a tunes list on this blog last month. Both of these are great tools. The practice log has been doing its job to keep me recording thoughts and goals, as well as keeping me publicly accountable for practicing consistently.

I’ve also finally pinned down a single date when I’m going to note my progress “anniversary” each month. Previously, I tried to count four weeks off to say “Hey, it’s been another month of playing.” And this just got too complex.

Since I started playing around January 14-15th of this year, I decided to set the progress day for each month on the 15th – which was yesterday. Interestingly enough, I started back playing on the 15th of last month, so this seems like a good plan.

Goals for this month?

Keep practicing the songs I’ve learned already, for one. I also really want to fix my squeaky bow issues when playing Cripple Creek, and bring it up to tempo. I don’t know why this tune is giving me so much grief, but it is!

The next song on the list to learn seems more complex than any of the others I’ve picked up so far. There’s less repetition, it’s a longer song, and some of the fingerings seem fast. I’ve only watched the play through video in making this judgement, but I have a feeling that between that and Cripple Creek, those may be the only two songs I work to master the next month. Or I may get a major breakthrough and find myself pleasantly surprised.

I’ll check back next month and let you know!

Posted in Gaming, Steam Gaming

Steam Games: Kind Words

I saw that Bel at Tales of the Aggronaut also wrote about this “game” today, but I haven’t read his post yet. I wanted to come at my own post with fresh thoughts first. Still, I’m glad to see other people picking it up in the blogosphere!

I first heard about this on Friday night from a Kotaku article. I don’t usually jump right out there and buy a game on impulse these days. And I even hesitated on this one before I picked it up.

Then I took the plunge, and I’m glad I did. For $5, Kind Words on Steam is totally worth it.

What Is Kind Words?

I hesitate to call it a game. It’s more of a social interaction platform for giving and receiving support and good vibes.

Everything you do is completely anonymous – interactions are only signed with the user’s first initial. And there’s no back and forth in this, so it’s not meant to be a conversation or a dialogue.

To break it down in simplest terms, you read “requests” which are short notes sent by other players. You choose whether to reply to those posts. The idea is to comfort the person, answer questions, give advice, or just let them know they’re not alone.

I’m giving advice to someone who gets overwhelmed with completing tasks.

You do all of this in a quiet, comfortable virtual environment that takes place in a single room with chill music playing in the background. Each day you participate, you unlock new songs to add to your virtual playlist.

When someone gets your response, they can thank you by sending you a collectible sticker. This sticker is an object that you can place as decoration in your room. You can also put them on your letters and share them as thanks to responses to your own requests. It’s a neat little collection meta-game, but not the central point in any way.

When you’re not reading or responding, you can chill out in your room. From time to time, paper airplanes fly across your screen that you can click on. These carry real time encouragement and messages from other players. I was surprised at how downright wholesome and thoughtful some of these could be!

A deep message from a paper airplane

You can send your own paper airplanes with quotes, good wishes, good vibes, whatever you want to say to people. It’s a nice place to find a pick-me-up if you’re feeling a bit bummed and just need to hear something pleasant.

I passed this game along to my sister and brother-in-law, and they were (as I expected) right on the ball in answering questions and sending out their own prompts. Rather than send requests about worries and concerns, I like to send questions in the disguise of looking for advice.

“When you need to concentrate on getting something done, what kind of music do you listen to? I’m open to suggestions!”

Things like that. It gets people talking and responding about something positive that they enjoy, and it actually does get a number of replies! I figure that’s within the realm of what requests can be used for, because who doesn’t get some good feelings from listing their favorite books, or music or talking about how they first started gaming?

Anyhow, I spent way more time in Kind Words over the weekend than I have any other Steam game I can think of recently. I’ve made it a point to check in for a bit every day, answer a few requests and bask in the good vibes.

I think it’s a neat little social platform, a cool experiment, and so far, I haven’t run across anyone trying to spoil things for others. If you’re curious about the game, and it sounds like something interesting in any way, give it a go and brighten someone’s day.