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Fiddle Dee Dee

Saturday, April 14, 2012 @6:09:40 AM


I began playing the fiddle about 2 months ago. I had never before played any musical instrument. I am an adult learner (56 years old). I was introduced to the fiddle by my friend and co-worker, Soren Olesen of Sloughgrass fame (www.sloughgrass.com) when he started up the afterschool Bluegrass Club. I used a "loaner" fiddle for a while and then took the leap and purchased my very own fiddle.

I am teaching myself to read music and play the fiddle.  I have found wonderful resources online and, of course, the Bluegrass Club meetings provide invaluable instruction. I can play Shortnin' Bread and am learning Clinch Mountain Backstep.  These are the two pieces we have been working on in the Bluegrass Club. At home, on my own, I am playing Ode to Joy, which I find has really helped my fingering abilities, Boil 'em Cabbage Down and the Tennessee Waltz. I have found Mel Bay's The American Fiddle Method, Vol. I to be a very good resource.

I do have a goal, a lofty goal, to be able to play The Lover's Waltz by Jay Unger and Molly Mason at this time next year.  I know I will never play at Carnegie Hall but I am amazed that Soren was able to teach me to play anything that even remotely resembled music on the fiddle.  That is the greatest thrill. I really never thought I would be able to play any instrument.

Well, that is my first blog entry.  I will try to keep this blog updated with progress on my journey.



13 comments on “Fiddle Dee Dee”

ajisai Says:
Saturday, April 14, 2012 @6:42:53 AM

Welcome! You'll find a helpful community of nice folks here. And you'll find that, like you, many of us had the good fortune to pick up a fiddle later in life.

You're right. It's a journey. And if you just keep at it day after day after day, good things will happen to your playing. I think The Lovers' Waltz is with your reach--maybe even sooner than you think. Of course, even when you "have it," there'll be a lifetime of work still left on it. : ) And, there'll be many more wonderful tunes to learn.
fiddleiphile Says:
Saturday, April 14, 2012 @7:11:40 AM

I'm glad to hear you are teaching yourself to read music. I think it saves a lot of time trying to get down new tunes. I think you will find Lovers Waltz and Ashoken Farewell both easily attainable in "bare bones" style. (simplest melody form) From there, play along with the recordings and you will find your ear will lead you to the rest of the notes that make these tunes so speacial.
Wildhen Says:
Saturday, April 14, 2012 @8:32:28 AM

Thank you both for your words of encouragement!
boxbow Says:
Saturday, April 14, 2012 @9:22:48 AM

You may be in for a treat. I'm a big believer in having that one tune just out of my reach. When you get Lover's Waltz, make sure you've already got another out-of-reach tune waiting to tug you along. It's a wonderful thing to make music.
mudbug Says:
Saturday, April 14, 2012 @1:03:53 PM

Two months and "Ode to Joy". Very nice. Next you might tackle "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring".
cardinalwookie Says:
Saturday, April 14, 2012 @3:59:55 PM

Hi
arthurj2520 Says:
Monday, April 16, 2012 @2:42:31 PM

I sent off for the book as well. It seems to have been given a pretty good review on Amazon. I have only been "fiddeling" for about ten days but intend to try to keep some sort of record as I go along. I have noticed that toward the end of the day yesterday that my intonation got better. I began to internalize where the placement needed to be. Call it muscle memory or whatever but it has never ceased to amaze me is that during periods of rest the computer tends to bet programmed anew. I guess we will see. So far Soldiers Joy part "A" sounds ok as long as I don't compare it to the one on my CD. Part "B" has been running through me head and I have no opprunity to try to get rid of it by infecting the next person here at work. It does seem to me that I go through the same thing with banjo. I feel I'm drowning then seem to start to get it. It's like when I learned to swim. The hard part was getting out of that sack!
arthurj2520 Says:
Monday, April 16, 2012 @2:42:45 PM

I sent off for the book as well. It seems to have been given a pretty good review on Amazon. I have only been "fiddeling" for about ten days but intend to try to keep some sort of record as I go along. I have noticed that toward the end of the day yesterday that my intonation got better. I began to internalize where the placement needed to be. Call it muscle memory or whatever but it has never ceased to amaze me is that during periods of rest the computer tends to bet programmed anew. I guess we will see. So far Soldiers Joy part "A" sounds ok as long as I don't compare it to the one on my CD. Part "B" has been running through me head and I have no opprunity to try to get rid of it by infecting the next person here at work. It does seem to me that I go through the same thing with banjo. I feel I'm drowning then seem to start to get it. It's like when I learned to swim. The hard part was getting out of that sack!
Wildhen Says:
Monday, April 16, 2012 @3:58:55 PM

Soldiers Joy! I listened to it on my iPod to and from work today. I also find it helps me to listen to the pieces and really hear the sounds of the notes, ear training I guess they call it. I know that I have music running through my head a lot more now than ever before. That's a Good Thing. Keep fiddling!
bj Says:
Tuesday, April 17, 2012 @8:02:14 AM

The dots (aka written music) are one way to learn, but a fiddler also desperately needs to develop their ears, so don't neglect the ear training! It's good to just try playing tunes you know from your childhood, whether nursery songs like Mary Had a Little Lamb, old standards like Oh Susannah, or even commercial jingles! Once you start to be able to pick up tunes that way, then start trying to pick up new stuff in the same way, first by listening to it on endless loop for hours at a time, then by slowing it down with slowdowner software and trying to play along.
nancymae Says:
Wednesday, April 18, 2012 @7:13:06 PM

Welcome from your neighboring state of Wisconsin! I am working on Lover's Waltz right now! Listening to fiddle music all the time will help you get your rhythm down and really help to know the music. Do what the people above said..and you are well on your way!! My only suggestion: Be more stubborn than your fiddle! You will get frustrated from time to time...just put the fiddle down and pick it back up the next day...never give up!!! Your stubborness WILL payoff and you will be playing Lover's Waltz before you know it!! I'm a big Jay Unger fan too!

Enjoy your journey...it's a wonderful ride!!
nancymae Says:
Wednesday, April 18, 2012 @7:17:36 PM

Oh...and I love your blog title...Miss Scarlett!
fiddleiphile Says:
Sunday, April 22, 2012 @8:00:33 AM

b.j. just made my point. "listen to end less loops for hours at a time, then slow down until you can play along". If you read simple music notation, you can pick up the bare bones of most fiddle tunes in less than an hour. No messing around with guessing about the notes. THEN use those hours and your ear to refine the tune.

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