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I'm giving myself permission to screw up royally . . .

Posted by bj on Monday, August 23, 2010

Yes, we'd all love to play perfect tunes with gorgeously ringing double stops and complicated bowings. But to get there we have to be willing to sound awful learning the stuff we need to learn so that we can eventually play that way.

Lately I've been getting into some more notey tunes. Not quite hornpipes, and simpler hornpipes and rags. The left hand is more complicated. Okay, I get that and can usually get one of these tunes under my left fingers with a simple stock bowing without too much trouble within a day or two, though maybe not quite up to jam speed. Maybe 80-90% of jam speed, so at least it sounds fun. But adding more bowing variations is when things start to get more complicated.

So lately I've been giving myself permission to not concentrate so much on getting the left hand perfect while I'm working on the right hand. As long as I'm "in the ballpark" with the lefthand, it's good enough for while I'm working on three or four different bowing variations for the tune. As the bowing variations start to come together and I relax into the bowing, the left hand automatically gets better too.

Even three years along the coordination between the two hands can be a challenge. Sometimes you just have to ride on that seesaw until you can get both hands' skills balanced and the tune comes together.

Oh, and during my bowing variations awfulness I'm using a clothespin mute, so I don't drive myself nuts. Once the bowing starts to flow, the clothespin comes off.

8 comments on “I'm giving myself permission to screw up royally . . .”

Cyndy Says:
Monday, August 23, 2010 @6:38:35 PM

It's always fascinating to read what other people my fiddle age are working on. I've been trying to find graceful ways out of wrong notes--my teacher tells me I'm going to make mistakes so I need to learn to get out of them with as little damage done as possible--and it's an interesting exercise. Here's wishing that your clothespin will be back on the clothesline soon.

Humbled by this instrument Says:
Monday, August 23, 2010 @9:27:45 PM

Wisdom. Absolutely great insights you've written herein. I can only second them and say yep yep yep. I recorded my best "Wind that Shakes the Barley" today, hitting these triplets and snippets and bumps and wumps, all inherent in Irishy fiddling, yet I've enjoyed playing these very things disastrously for weeks prior. What fun! Good show! Keep up the good work, and the bad stuff too.

cheekee Says:
Monday, August 23, 2010 @10:49:44 PM

as a teacher, i always tell my students "make em loud, make em proud...then try again. once you have some skill behind you, sometimes a mistake becomes a happy accident"

mudbug Says:
Tuesday, August 24, 2010 @12:24:12 AM

Yeah, I'm a big fan of the mute for working through things. Makes the horribleness.....well....less horrible.

bj Says:
Tuesday, August 24, 2010 @4:41:15 AM

Cynthia, re the "wrong notes"-- you and your teacher are the only ones who know they're wrong, so, as Jane has said over and over and over again to me-- KEEP PLAYIN'!!!! Don't miss a beat, just plow ahead.

mudbug, I actually advocate against the mute most of the time, since it really does HIDE slightly off intonation and bow pressure issues, but in this case I know I'm "sloppy" so it works in the (very) short term. So, again, it's just for a very specific purpose.

cheekee, I'm the queen of happy accidents. Jane is the queen of intentional happy accidents. When we play together the accidents are happy indeed.

Cyndy Says:
Tuesday, August 24, 2010 @4:45:45 AM

I love it when a happy accident turns in to a keeper. I've had that happen a number of times in recent weeks.

cheekee Says:
Tuesday, August 24, 2010 @9:06:30 AM

so true. if you make your mistakes too quiet, you might miss out on something good :)

Humbled by this instrument Says:
Friday, August 27, 2010 @4:42:16 PM

I play with one of the best guitarists around. At the start of a gig, right at the beginning of the first song, he's supposed to come crashing in with an open G. He slammed down on an A chord! BAM. And then he reared back and laughed and laughed. It ended up being one of our best gigs. We couldn't make a mistake, because if HE could do THAT, we could do anything. No stress. And what did Uncle Jerry call mistakes? Just another note.

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