Lilting Fiddle

Learning to Play Fiddle as an Adult

Fiddle Progress Report – January 2024

February 1, 2024

It’s been a while since I’ve written a progress report. While I haven’t been fiddling the whole month of January (I started back on my fiddle anniversary, which was the 15th), I wanted to get into the habit of looking back on the month and talking about how it went.

I had consistent practice when I practiced last year during June-August. I started back at the beginning of my material to build up a strong foundation, using Meadowlark Violin as a springboard to look at beginner technique. I don’t recall why I floundered in September, but I wasn’t able to recoup and get back on the practice wagon until this past month.

While I’m still taking it slowly and working on easy-for-me exercises in the EEI book, I have made progress. The tunes I’m playing right now in EEI were made for pizzicato, but I’m bowing them as a way to work towards more complex tunes. This included:

  • #34 – Natalie’s Rose
  • #36 – Dreidel
  • #41 – Jingle Bells
  • #42 – Old MacDonald Had a Farm

I’m fairly comfortable with Old MacDonald, so I’ll probably be moving on from that in a few days, continuing to work through the simpler tunes as exercises.

The one game changer for this past month was the mirror. Of course, I’ve known for years that to determine if you’re bowing straight that you should play while looking in the mirror. I haven’t used this in practice for two reasons:

  • I didn’t have a readily available mirror in a location that would be easy to practice with
  • I thought I was bowing straight

The one takeaway from Meadowlark I got was the importance of mirror practice. Again, I knew this, but this nudged me to purchase a small mirror I could hang on the wall and use for practice.

Oh my word – I was bowing crooked!

Just as everything always told me, you think you’re bowing straight when you look at the strings from your vantage point, but it’s an optical illusion. No, the only way to bow properly is to see it from straight on, such as in a mirror.

I’ve been implementing mirror long bowing for the past week. It was awkward and difficult in the beginning, but I soon began to see where I was making mistakes and how to correct my bow direction. I’m sure it’ll be something I continue to use going forward and I’m glad I finally took the advice.

Speaking of advice, the final thing I did this month was let my subscription to Meadowlark run out. I finished up all of the beginner’s sessions, poked around at some of the other lessons, and I feel I’ve gotten my worth from the site.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a VERY good site for beginners, especially if you have the time to get involved with the forums and the online practice sessions. It makes a great supporting community. I just don’t have the time (and I’m shy to get on a webcam) to get as involved as I should for the monthly price I’m paying to keep it.

However, if you don’t have a teacher nearby or the support of other players, and you have the time to get involved in a great community, this site is fantastic. I’ve just been cutting back on subscriptions to everything lately, and this was one I chose to let go.

That was a lot of stuff for just half a month! I hope I can continue to consistently practice and have just as much to write up for next month!

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