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!