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Plateau Time

Posted by bj on Saturday, October 25, 2008

I'm trying to keep my "old" material fresh by tweaking it here and there, trying to vary each go round through the A and B parts, and having a tough go of it. I dunno, maybe I'm just not ready to go there. It's either that or I'm just feeling a bit lazy since I've been fighting off some kind of flu bug. I'm trying not to be too hard on myself, but things I play aren't sounding too good right now. My brain is mushy, and I'm tired and somewhat achy. So things aren't as easy to do.

I'm also working on a "new" song that involves a lot more sawstroke than I usually do, and also a fair bit of bowrocking. I can accomplish this as long as I keep the pace slowed down, but I don't seem able to pick up the pace on it yet. Hopefully when I'm feeling better that'll come a bit easier. At least I can say that the tune itself was really easy to suss out notewise. That's a skill I seem to have mastered at least. I'm getting much better at figuring out which tuning a tune is in. And the bowing wasn't hard to figure out either, actually, it's just hard to DO with any significant speed. So I guess my ears are slowly but surely getting better at picking up some of the nuances.

Interestingly enough, I've found I can also play a few of my tunes in more than one tuning. I had forgotten I'd tuned the french fiddle from standard G to GDGD, picked it up and started playing the Rosebud of Allendale. I realized shortly after starting that it was sounding somewhat low, realized why, and made the adjustment in the fingering just fine when I dropped down from the upper GD onto the lower D. I think I like playing it in that tuning, there were some sympathetic harmonics happening that made it quite nice. And since it's a waltz and not a jam song, I can play it in any dang key and it won't make a difference.

So I guess it hasn't all been blah, there's at least been a bit of progress. But no huge jumps, no eureka moments this week.

 



11 comments on “Plateau Time”

kubasa Says:
Saturday, October 25, 2008 @6:39:53 PM

I hear you about reaching a plateau. That's exactly how I've felt lately. I'll start playing a tune and then just simply move onto something else without even finishing the song. Got to focus more.......Next week, I'll be playing a few tunes for my daughter's 2nd grade class so I really do need to focus and do a little more sincere practising!

bj Says:
Saturday, October 25, 2008 @6:50:11 PM

OOOHHHH!!!! Tune choice for that would be FUN! Pick at least one song that's NEVER EVER been done on fiddle but that you know they've heard. Make it your finale. Something from a Saturday Morning Cartoon Show or something . . . get silly with it. Oh geez, I am jealous, that sounds like a real HOOT and a half.

FiddlerFaddler Says:
Saturday, October 25, 2008 @8:38:50 PM

I punish myself by wanting to learn to play the parts in different octaves and adding drones and double stops the third time through. It makes any tune exponentially harder to learn. Once I master it, though, it makes for great fiddle filibusters when playing solo, and it eliminates boredom when playing a tune over and over, say at a jam or barn dance.

bj Says:
Sunday, October 26, 2008 @4:38:43 AM

I play drones with most of my tunes, and going from single noting the melody the first time through to adding the drones in is the easiest variation. I'm still working on consistent double stops. I've also been adding slides in here and there. They can be fun, especially when you do an unexpected one, like the D on the A string, sliding it up single string to a unison drone with the E string when the tune is going onto that string.

The bowings are coming a bit harder. That's where I need to work on the variety. They seem to want to set themselves in stone, probably because early on they were so tough for me. But now they're easier, I should be able to get outta that headset.

kubasa Says:
Sunday, October 26, 2008 @5:59:12 PM

Hi bj,

Thanks for the idea of finishing up with a familiar cartoon tune. That's a great idea! Actually, here's the deal. At my daughters school, they celebrate Harvest of Literature day instead of Halloween. Not that they are opposed to it but it's a very multi-cultural school and to be sensitive to everyone, they do this Harvest of Literature day. What that means is that the students are supposed to pick a favorite book and dress up as their favorite character in their book and then they basically read all day long. They are learning and yet doing something fun. Pretty cool. I wish I would have had that when I was in school!

Anyway, my daughter is enamored with the Prairies and pioneer life. As such, she is going to bring in one of her Little House on the Prairie books and dress up as Laura. Guess what that would make me? Pa. So, I get to read to the kids and then my daughter wanted me to play a couple of tunes on my fiddle since that's what Pa did. At the moment, I figure I'll play Oh Susanna and Arkansas Traveler since I know those better than some of the other songs that Pa is know to have played. BUT - now I will be sure to finish up with a familiar tune for the kids, thanks to you!

bj Says:
Sunday, October 26, 2008 @6:15:16 PM

You're gonna be a hit! And your daughter will just love you to pieces for that. (Though she probably does already anyway. ;-) ) Hopefully you can make it a surprise for her as well, though if you're practicing when she's around it might be tough.

That is a pretty sweet alternative to halloween concept for the whole diversity thing.

kubasa Says:
Monday, October 27, 2008 @8:22:18 AM

Course, if I have a really bad day (general disconnect between my brain and my fingers), my daughter could be utterly embarrassed. Since she's only in 2nd grade the embarrassment part of seeing "dad" in school hasn't kicked in yet so I might be okay. I do hope it goes well!

bj Says:
Monday, October 27, 2008 @8:25:05 AM

Well, however it goes, write it up in a blogpost and let me know!

robinja Says:
Tuesday, October 28, 2008 @3:51:56 PM

BJ - I would disagree with you and say that you are progressing toward the next plateau. It's when you are pleased with your playing that you are not advancing. So muddle through it, and enjoy the next plateau when you get there!

Judy

bj Says:
Tuesday, October 28, 2008 @4:03:48 PM

LOL! Well, then I am never gonna hit a plateau since I doubt highly I'll EVER be happy with my own playing! But it sure doesn't feel like I'm advancing. I dunno. Sometimes I think I am, but then I record myself (which I should just know better and throw a MORATORIUM on that!) and hear how really bad I still sound and get all disgusted all over again.

kubasa Says:
Wednesday, November 5, 2008 @8:26:33 AM

Hi BJ, I'm going to send you a PM about last week.

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