While this isn’t the exact date of when I first picked up a fiddle to learn to play, it’s the day I’ve dedicated as my fiddle anniversary. About this time two years ago, I was just starting to become serious about practice.
This hasn’t been a completely seamless experience for me – I had a couple months in the first year when I set the instrument down and wondered if I’d ever pick it back up. But I did, and I’m glad that I did.
This past year has been a focus on evolving my practice and being as consistent as I can with practicing every day. As of February of last year, I’ve only missed about 5 days of practice (a day or two was due to things I couldn’t control). That is absolutely astounding for me, and I’ve learned a lot by sticking to a schedule as much as I did.
I learned to spend more time practicing songs, rather than just skipping off to the next tune in the book. I learned when to say when – identifying songs that were out of my skill range and were only causing frustration.
I found a way to consistently practice sight reading, and this has gone really well! I also started the process of learning vibrato – this has been a very slow, difficult journey. Honestly, I didn’t expect it to take as long as it has, but it’s been another learning experience.
I started to really focus on bowing exercises and found a more consistent practice book for scales. I also experimented with gear such as rosin, shoulder rests and chin rests.
I have to say that looking back a year ago, I’ve changed just about everything I was doing with practice except the fiddle and the bow! And even sometimes then, I do pick up my secondary fiddle just to mess around on it. 🙂
Being completely self-taught, I’m having to rely on resources in books and online for my learning. This has been a discovery process as I’m always looking to pick up some new knowledge and implement it to see if it works for me. I know that I probably would be much “further along” (whatever that means) if I had a teacher guiding me, but that’s not a reality for me at this time still. Maybe one day.
My focus for this year is to remain consistent in practice. I want to continue to evolve my practice exercises, work on finding good tone and clean string crossings, develop what I’ve started with my vibrato, and build up playing endurance.
My lack of playing endurance is what’s hurting me most right now. My practice sessions are getting longer, but my shoulders start to ache, and it falls apart near the end when I’m working on my most intensive tunes. I need to find a way to strengthen my shoulders in order to better finish out my daily practice and to just play longer over all.
Still so much to work on! I hope to be reporting good things come this time next year!