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Lifes Vagaries, Trials, & Redemption

Posted by harwilli55 on Sunday, September 5, 2010

Life tis a strange thing sometimes......just when I feel it settling down into a routine......stuff happens.......grrrrrrr !!!  Several months ago.....I had found a balance between work and play.  I was finding enough time at home to put some good hours into practicing.....I was attending most of the regular jams and sessions ( 7-10 per month)...........and was pleased with my progress.  Then......KABLOOEY !!!

Now, I am working 12-14 hours a day......so practice time has become seriously limited.  Then the jam I had hosted previously and begun  to host again.....well.....that establisment ( a small community individually owned) cafe closed its doors for good. This cafe had been my most important learning labratory for the past 3 years.  Its been a neat and wonderful jam,  with a group of us who started together.....learned together.....explored OT & ITM together.....progressed together.....supported each other....and enjoyed each others company.  Alas !!!  And then my parents are starting to have medical problems, both in their 80's....so they need help with the physical chores.  As they say...." It never rains in Central Virginia "

 

However, even with all of that....I am finding that somehow....the learning is continuing.....I am making progress.....I am learning still.....and......I am finding that I have more friends....music friends....than I really knew or had thought I did.....and most importantly....I find that I treasure the small amount of time I still get to play with them way much more than I had.  I am really lucky to be friends with a group of people who love learning, playing, and expanding their repertoire.  Even though I fall behind their learning curve.....I am having to rely more and more on picking up tunes by ear.....and having moderate success doing so. 

Back to fiddling.....so....what is it that I am working on.....well....geez.....what every fiddler wannabe works on.....bowing, bowing, bowing.....and oh....did I mention ......bowing !!! It is interesting.....I am now at the stage I remember being at with the mandolin.....which is.....as long as there is a strong lead.....I can play the heck outta a tune.....but put me in the front.....yikes.....lol......everyone in the jam looks at me with that perplexed look some of you may have experienced when attempting to play something familar for others.....and they have absolutely no idea what it is that you are playing.......even when you have announced the name of the tune  :-D  Yea.....that's me.  The notes may be there....but the melody has flown south ......timing, rythmn, and intonation.....sigh.....no evidence they had ever visited my right hand...Yet....if I were to put the mandolin in my hands.....it would flow forth....mostly.....except....I rarely  call something I know very well.....that might be a personality flaw.....lol  But, I do know from experience, that the ability to start and lead will come.....with time....lots of time....plus.....trying to do it over and over and over.....ad nauseum. 

I am experimenting with different hand placements on the bow......plus seeking a way to ensure that I use that same grip consistently.....some days are better'n others.  I am beginning to work on simple shuffles on tunes that I know inside out. With the shuffle....for the moment.....I am working to have it availiable to me when I feel it is being called for by the either the tune....or the group I am playing with plays that tune in such a way a shuffle will enhance the groups take on it.

What is really helping me to work on the shuffling is that lately I have been able to sit in between some pretty good fiddlers....so I have stereo pulses in my ears......which autonomically( I bet you read that as automatically, but in truth, it is an autonomic response, just as breathing is autonomous thank goodness) which, of course,  means I try to replicate what I am surrounded/enveloped by ......and some of that is coming home with me and staying in my ears and fingers for longer periods of time after each jam. 

The Irish stuff is pushing me to work to develop a bunch of different skill sets too. I find I am really working to play clean clear enunciated notes a lot more.  I really concentrate on clear intonation.  Plus, I am seeking to incorporate cuts, crans, triplets, and rolls into each tune.  Here again, I am very lucky to be able to sit between some good sesssion fiddlers which helps make that hand -brain connection happen so much faster.  It is a much slower process bringing those home with me since I am not anywhere near as developed there. 

I am convinced that playing more than one style, or genre of music is important.  It is too easy to become insulated in a small sphere which leads to becoming blind about way too much instrospective learning.  I find that what I practice in one genre.....really helps to push my progress in the other genre...even though they both require much different approaches. 

I read a great album liner note about the late John Summers, who was an important Indiana fiddler.  He made the point, that fiddlers are musicians first, and genre snobs last.  His point seemed to be ( and which I gathered from Janepaints postings too) is that musicians listen to many different influences, play what strikes their fancy, nothwithstanding the genre they are steeped in, and love a good tune when they hear it.  That is how I want to be....to be able to play what strikes my fancy, whether it be OT, Irish, Cajun, Rock, Trad, or whatever !!! So that is my new goal, listen, and play along with anything and everything. In that path, there is redemption....for I will accept no limits, and push all boundaries :-)

 

Harlan

 

 

 



4 comments on “Lifes Vagaries, Trials, & Redemption”

cheekee Says:
Sunday, September 5, 2010 @10:19:37 PM

i like what you just said about playing different styles. i find that there is more and more that i like all the time...and often stuff that i couldn't have expected. i was drawn to play because of a certain style...but as i started listening closely to different genres, i found that what i really want to do is develop the bow, finger and tone control to make this instrument sing in whatever way i want it to. sometimes i feel like i should maybe concentrate on a certain style...just to try to develop one thing at a time...but i get sidetracked with all sorts of tunes.

harwilli55 Says:
Monday, September 6, 2010 @5:23:50 AM

Me too cheekee, I am in that same spot....permanent sidetrack....lol..... it sure is fun to wander....plus.....since I know many folk who play music other than OT or Irish.....being able to fit in opens lots of otherwise closed doors.

Humbled by this instrument Says:
Monday, September 6, 2010 @6:00:07 AM

Kablooey happens. Ah what to do? As an aside, I once was told to "Move on!" or be arrested for vagarie-ncy, so you gotta keep movin'.

harwilli55 Says:
Monday, September 6, 2010 @6:10:21 AM

Moving along right now...... 'umbly of course

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