Lilting Fiddle

Learning to Play Fiddle as an Adult

Nailing Practice

Posted on April 5, 2019

I’m not sure what caused it – maybe it was me finally putting my frustrations into words yesterday. I came home from work tired, but determined to put time into what I consider a full practice sessions (for me).

Granted, 30 minutes isn’t a lot to real musicians. But keep in mind: this is a hobby, I’m fitting it in around work and other responsibilities, and I’m still very new to the instrument. So, for me, 30 minutes of practice feels about right (as long as it’s consistent). If I’m really inspired or interested in what I’m working on, I let myself go longer, of course.

When I sat down last night, I tried practicing scales along with a drone for the first time. I’ll write more about this later, when I’ve spent more time with it. Interesting and helpful overall, though!

I then spent some time going back to the very beginning of my instructional book, and playing the simplest pieces. Many of these I never attempted to bow before – the book starts students off with pizzicato. So I thought it might be different to see how well I do on simpler songs, just to see how far I could get with minimum mistakes.

After that, I jumped back to Song for Maria, which is the tune I’ve been practicing for a while now. I understand the song, I generally know how to play it and have it mostly memorized, but it’s still complex for me. It combines slurs with some forth fingering and string changes at a pretty good tempo… all which leads me to bow wrong strings, hit wrong notes and that sort of thing. So, I can play it, but my playing feels very sloppy.

For some reason, last night, I just nailed the song. In fact, I think that was the best playing I’ve done tone-wise that I can remember. I played the song many, many times over last night – not every time was great, but the majority of attempts were far better than what I’ve done up until now.

I’m not sure what changed. I don’t know if it was just one of those good practice days… and I’ll come back to it tonight and suck at the song mysteriously (as it seems to happen). But I finished out the full session, and walked away feeling pretty good. Decided to write about it since it was the flip side of how I was feeling yesterday.

I’m going to try to get back on track with my practice this weekend, and if I do as well playing Song for Maria tonight as I did yesterday, I think it’s time to move on to The Banana Boat Song finally!

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