Posted in Fiddle, Fiddle Progress Report

Fiddle Progress Report – January 2021

I don’t have a whole lot to update about things in January, but what I do have is something very important!

Of course, my 2 year anniversary of playing fiddle arrived in mid-January, which is one thing to celebrate!

Secondly, as of February 1, my quest to maintain consistent daily practice also hit a 1 year mark. I did pretty well, too! Out of 365 days, I missed exactly 6 days of practice. Not quite a week out of one year, which is great!

I’ve been giving myself a lot more wiggle room to miss practice this past month because I’ve seen that I can bounce back and not let that effect my overall consistency in daily practice. Part of this is because I’ve got practice planned out well enough that I know exactly what I need to be doing every day.

Going forward, I’m going to continue striving for daily consistency, but also be more flexible in allowing myself days off when things get busy or I just can’t quite make time for it. I’m not going to let it become a habit, mind you, but I’m also not going to beat myself up for missing a day (which usually happens on the weekend).

I finally said farewell to Russian Folk Song (IEE) and Amazing Grace this past month. I didn’t have the Russian Folk Song down perfectly, but I’ve spent so much time with it and I was only seeing minor improvements, so it was time to move on. Amazing Grace was a tune that I was pretty comfortable with, so I didn’t see that drilling it was getting a lot in return.

The most important thing that happened in January 2021 for me was… actual music.

In exchange for Amazing Grace, I brought back in the Skye Boat Song that I’d practiced earlier last year. I’d improved a LOT on this song, simply due to practicing long bowing on Silent Night. So while it’s not perfect, it’s much better than it was before.

I realized that my Fiddle & Song book also had Skye Boat Song included, though a more advanced version. Most importantly, it had a really nice backing track on the CD.

The one thing I love about Fiddle & Song is that the CD tracks are like playing along with a band and the backing tracks are amazing. Though I was playing a much more stripped down version of Skye Boat Song, I found that I could still play it along with the backing track.

Then, suddenly, one day of doing this, I was struck by actual emotion while practicing. And not the emotion of frustration with my poor playing, either. Actual emotion that I was playing (decently) music to a lovely backing track and for a song that I really love.

Oh my gosh. It’s an even better feeling than I expected!

Again, I don’t play it beautifully, but it was good enough to sound alright along with the backing track. For the first time, I actually felt like I was playing true music on my fiddle rather than just drilling an exercise and being frustrated with my sound.

That was something I’ve been working up to for two years now. It may sound silly but it’s the biggest breakthrough I’ve had so far, and it helps to bolster my confidence that with time and practice, I can start to play things I like to hear.

Posted in Fiddle

Fiddle Goals for 2021

One last goal setting post for this year – I promise it’s the last one! This time, I have a list of goals for learning to play fiddle for 2021. I actually have a number of them!

Finish Book 1 of EEiVolume 1 of Essential Elements Interactive was the first method book I started almost two years ago. Because I’ve hopped between different methods, and even set this book aside for a solid part of a year, I’ve still not finished this book despite all the time I’ve practiced.

I received book 2 as a Christmas present in 2020, so that’s a sign to me that it’s time to work through the remaining content in book 1 in 2021.

Increase my playing stamina – Meaning, I want to strengthen my upper body in order to be able to play longer pieces or the same piece for a longer amount of time before my shoulders and arms start to ache. I’m doing far better than I did when I first started to play just by virtue of practice, but I really want to research strengthening exercises I can use, especially for my shoulders which seem to get to aching first.

Learn vibrato (better) – I started the process of learning vibrato last year. I’ve been working on learning the basic motion for many months, though I’m only able to do it slowly. All of the videos I’ve seen tell me that the next step is to set up a metronome and focus on getting a consistent vibrato at a specific speed. Then, once that’s achieved, speed it up a notch. This is the part I need to focus on now.

Listen to more great fiddle/violin music – I’ve listened to masterful Irish fiddle music all my life, and that’s the basic area of interest. However, musicians say that to develop an ear for what good violin playing sounds like, one has to immerse oneself in good music. So, this year, I’m going to research and expand the music I listen to in order to help develop my ear a bit more. Not just Irish/Celtic fiddle, but old time fiddle and classical violin as well.

I’m sure more goals will pop up throughout the year, but to start this year off, these are the areas I really want to focus on!

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