Little Tweaks, Noticeable Differences

Thursday, March 8, 2012 @7:48:33 PM

I'm trying to learn to play Lost Girl. The notes aren't that hard, right? And I have a comfortable way to bow it. But, it's proving to be quite the unforgiving challenge. 

First of all, it seems like one of those tunes that absolutely has to be in tune to sound good. Then, for me, there's a pesky matter of bow bounce on the fourth finger e. And there are a few phrases that I have a hard time keeping in perfect rhythm.

Earlier this evening I was taking a fiddle nap--stretch out on the bed, close my eyes, and pluck the notes to tunes listening carefully to make sure they're in tune--and I discovered one little change that seems to make a world of difference. If I keep my third finger down on the d while reaching for the fourth finger e and leave it there until that note comes up again, then intonation is less of an issue and the bow bounce seems to disappear.  

Then I've been working on Dark and Curly Hair forever. I'm still struggling to play the last phrase of the A part right and the B part needs some work but one of these days (years?) this tune is going to be mine! A few days ago, again, during a fiddle nap, I discovered that placing my first and third fingers down at the same time in one particular spot helps clean things up a bit.

And I recently figured out that changing the direction of the bow on one note in the B part of Dance, Boatman, Dance makes the notes after it fall comfortably into place.

I seem to have reached a point where paying attention to subtle things is the key to progress and I've set aside this year to whittle away at the little things that keep me from sounding like a real fiddler. So far, so good. It's a pretty satisfying and enjoyable thing.

8 comments on “Little Tweaks, Noticeable Differences”

Rene Says:
Friday, March 9, 2012 @5:53:20 AM

Fiddle nap....I like that.
bj Says:
Friday, March 9, 2012 @5:49:28 PM

Lost Girl is a real bugaboo! Some days I breeze through it and others it just completely falls apart.
Cyndy Says:
Friday, March 9, 2012 @5:58:41 PM

Yeah. Exactly. I'm going to keep tossing it out at jams and someday it's going to work and that will be sweet!
Humbled by this instrument Says:
Friday, March 9, 2012 @11:26:00 PM

I haven't heard o' fiddle naps. I'm very familiar with napping, but nobody done told me 'bout fiddle napping. Tried flintknapping, cat napping, have drunken the wine from all over the Napa Valley; seem to have an naptitude for identifying wild edibles, but never've heard 'bout fiddle napping.
Cyndy Says:
Saturday, March 10, 2012 @2:55:08 AM

Well, Humbled, you've been missing out! : )
Rene Says:
Saturday, March 10, 2012 @10:21:07 AM

Believe I may just partake of a fiddle nap this afternoon....while listening to Long black veil playing softly in the background.
KCFiddles Says:
Saturday, March 10, 2012 @1:15:56 PM

Keeping the fingers down until they have to be lifted, and keeping a quiet left hand is something that I try to pay attention to constantly. Just take a look at a Vassar Clements video if you want to see really quiet hands. He can be blazing along on some hot number, and he doesn't look like he's doing anything at all - except maybe frowning. :-D Fiddlerdi stresses leaving your fingers in place as well. Takes quite a bit of conscious effort if you are used to letting your fingers fly around. I'm better than I was, but still have a long way to go.

Cyndy Says:
Saturday, March 10, 2012 @1:40:42 PM

I've got the frown down! Seriously, my dad always frowned when he sang and I think I inherited it. : )

I'm really trying to clean things up this year and keeping my fingers down is on the list of things to get better at. The few months of classical lessons gave me a number of keeper ideas to bring over to fiddling.

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