Lilting Fiddle

Learning to Play Fiddle as an Adult

Fiddle Progress Report: 11 Months

Posted on December 15, 2019

This hasn’t been one of my proudest months in terms of practice consistency. I have a list of woes that either sapped my time or energy to play: illness, migraine for days, sick pet, and dealing with something that felt like a house crisis which turned out to be opossums. Go figure.

Anyhow, my consistency was shot for this month, but I don’t feel like I did any backsliding, even if I didn’t really make a lot of forward progress. In fact, since I have continued to make the trio of Angelina Baker, Buffalo Gals and Cindy a staple in my practice, I’ve seen a lot of improvement in the tone of playing those songs.

I want to move on from those eventually, and probably will starting in the new year. But I’ve also been practicing two holiday songs – Silent Night and O Holy Night. I was able to pretty quickly pick up Silent Night, and now play it more or less well.

O Holy Night has been far more of a challenge, and I’ve tasked myself to spend some real focus time in working on it this week. My goal is to have it in a playable condition before Christmas.

I’d love to get Greensleeves started before the holidays are out, but it really depends on if I can memorize O Holy Night enough to start another tune. I’ve not been able to make anywhere near the progress I was hoping to on holiday songs, but I do have a lot of time off coming up from work, and I intend to use it!

I have been working through the classes at Julia’s Violin Academy, though not keeping up with the live classes there as much as I’ve wanted. Maybe I can use some of this time to explore the things I’ve missed. I’ve been working in the scales and arpeggios into my practice, and really need to keep adding more of them and moving forward with that method.

Flashback Time!

About this time last year, I’d already bought my first little fiddle from Ebay. It wasn’t a good quality instrument, and I ended up upgrading pretty quickly, but it did provide me my first look at a fiddle.

Because it was so cheap, I wasn’t afraid to learn how to change strings, change the bridge, change the chin rest, put on peg compound… all things that being totally new coming to the fiddle might have been a bit more scary on a more expensive instrument.

I still own the instrument, and have tried a few times to bring it out and make it sound better, with no luck. I go back and forth on whether to display it just for looks (it is a nice looking piece) or if I should take it to Goodwill. It was my first fiddle, so I have a bit of a sentimental feeling towards it. But I also hate to see an instrument that’s mostly playable go to waste when it might service someone else.

Looking back, I apparently set up my little fiddle on December 22. I was so proud of myself and really in love with the way the instrument looked. It wasn’t until January that I really started to learn what to do with it and February before I set up this blog to document my journey.

I hope the excitement I felt when I first started will continue to move me forward. I really had no idea the amount of time and practice I’d have to put into learning the fiddle to make what I played sound remotely well. But I think that learning the patience and diligence needed to make progress has been good for me in a character-building sense.

Before I get too philosophical, I’ll close this report out. Next time I check in, I’ll be celebrating more or less a year of attempting to learn to play fiddle. I hope that between now and then, I am happier with my time and progress than this month. Nothing else to be done but move forward!

Oh, and I might have a little surprise tomorrow. We’ll see what I decide to do with this.

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