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May 4, 2020 - 9:55:39 AM

Ebowalker

Canada

10 posts since 7/28/2010

I've returned to the fiddle again after probably a 10 plus year absence. I took lessons more than 20 years ago in Scottish fiddle and learned by ear... the advantage of course is after an absence with a bit of a start I can still play the tunes.

My biggest problem is confidence. In my head, if I'm not Itzhak Perlman, then what's the use? I have tried playing with 3-4 different individuals and groups and they were waaaaaay better than me and it was very discouraging. I so admire fiddle players who look so confident when they play.

I guess I just want to know if there are others out there who just play fiddle for themselves and never perform in front of others and they are ok with that. I am not a shy person, I really have no venue or group and I struggle with social situations (even going to an appointment is a sleepless night before) after the military, so realistically it probably isn't going to happen. But it does seem hard to motivate yourself. I am trying to learn some popular Irish tunes just to challenge myself and that is going well (Swallowtail Jig is so familiar to many Scottish tunes I know and I know how to learn by ear) but I struggle with the why? My fiddle teacher used to go to Nursing Homes to brighten people and I so admired this. I live in a rural area and I will go outside and play in the summer occasionally to practice but that's about it.

What is a reasonable goal when you are a solitary fiddler?

I don't want to show off, I don't want to play super fast, I would just like to play to a good level, pleasant to listen to. I would love to go to a fiddle camp but there's no way with my social issues. I have really enjoyed watching the videos and listening to the audio uploads here and the podcasts. A real treasure.

Any tips or guidance would be appreciated.

May 4, 2020 - 12:45:58 PM
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109 posts since 3/19/2012

Hey, we're all kind of solitary fiddlers right now. One of our Irish session groups is having sessions on Zoom, by muting evrybody except whoever is leading the tune (taking turns). Some of us old hands are doing tunes a bit slow so new guys can learn them. I have a idea (based on my experience before this virus thing) that some sessions don't play all that fast, so you don't need to go for dance speed. I estimate average speeds for reels between 90-94 bpm and 100 top end, 110-120 dance speed (that's 2 clicks per bar). When learning a tune, I start my metronome in the 80s, and work up slowly. Also, unless you're really good at flat keys, I'd recommend avoiding those tunes(usually Scottish ones) till you get more pumped up. If you intend to remain solitary, I'd say go for the tunes that strike your fancy. There's loads of interesting reels, some of which are better played slow (Paddy Fahy's #14 in G comes to mind, about 88bpm). Maudabawn Chapel, Maids of Mitchelstown, Sean sa Cheo (Johnny in the Fog). Enjoy.

May 4, 2020 - 1:28:02 PM
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1393 posts since 4/6/2014

i play 99% of the time solo in my house nowadays, and i love to research tunes and find the stories behind them. Or get near enough and make the rest up with informed opinion, (the amount of info on the net is mind blowing), i can spend months/years on tunes and not get bored with tweaking them, and adding to the stories. And my playing just seems to follow along, and sometimes i get a revelation and i feel my playing and understanding of the music has improved. The "Why" for me is because i love it.

May 4, 2020 - 1:36:17 PM
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148 posts since 11/28/2018

Chris --- nobody on FHO is Itzhak Perlman but that doesn't mean we should all just quit.

I spent a long time thinking like you are but finally starting forcing myself in certain directions. I would go to festivals and at some of them you can find many jams at many different levels. You can watch for awhile and then decide whether to join them. And at most festivals you can get very involved or just stay to yourself --- it's up to you. Perhaps just sit off to the side and try to quietly play along. It's a good way to build skills and confidence and repertoire. I also spent years sitting behind the band at dances and just played quietly (the band was mic'd so there was no real chance I would interfere).

Edited by - Woodcutter on 05/04/2020 13:42:14

May 4, 2020 - 2:44:31 PM
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1997 posts since 10/22/2007

I think playing Nursing homes is a great goal! Back before the big mess, i sort of had a monthly thing at several. Knowing it's coming in a month was/is motivation enough for me. I'm thinking too, if you only have a few fiddle tunes, make up the rest with patriotic and sing-along songs. You will not be appreciated more, i swear it.

May 4, 2020 - 4:00:53 PM
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161 posts since 6/11/2019

I'll echo the nursing homes. I had a monthly worship service and played with a banjo, mando and guitar, many things to screen my errors--easiest audience ever, the residents thought I was the greatest fiddler. Compliments from Arkansas old-timers on your fiddle playing really swells up your head.

Anyway, my greatest enjoyment is playing with others of my (average) skill level; but with Scotch-Irish, I would make it a goal to accompany yourself with the fiddle for singing. I find that very difficult, and that is one of my personal goals. Lots of singing Celtic tunes. Ye Banks and Braes (Candler), Blackest Crow.

Hard to do any solo Celtic with the jigs, just about need a drum or guitar for rhythm. I've been trying to get the Kid on the Mountain up to speed, and it just doesn't work without somebody beating something on the 1, 4, 7 downbeats.

Another solo goal would be to have the 'cleanest' sound ever. Totally synchronize your left and right hand so there's no little off sounds that result from a 'fretting' finger being late on the string to a bow change or string crossing. And learn total control along the length of the bow. They you'll be a oft-requested waltz player. Good luck! Playing in the country for the critters is a blessing!

May 4, 2020 - 5:55:51 PM

Ebowalker

Canada

10 posts since 7/28/2010

quote:
Originally posted by farmerjones

I think playing Nursing homes is a great goal! Back before the big mess, i sort of had a monthly thing at several. Knowing it's coming in a month was/is motivation enough for me. I'm thinking too, if you only have a few fiddle tunes, make up the rest with patriotic and sing-along songs. You will not be appreciated more, i swear it.


Do people sing along when you're playing fiddle? I hadn't thought of that. 

May 4, 2020 - 6:08:33 PM
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Ebowalker

Canada

10 posts since 7/28/2010

quote:
Originally posted by Flat_the_3rd_n7th

Anyway, my greatest enjoyment is playing with others of my (average) skill level; but with Scotch-Irish, I would make it a goal to accompany yourself with the fiddle for singing. I find that very difficult, and that is one of my personal goals. Lots of singing Celtic tunes. Ye Banks and Braes (Candler), Blackest Crow.

Hard to do any solo Celtic with the jigs, just about need a drum or guitar for rhythm. I've been trying to get the Kid on the Mountain up to speed, and it just doesn't work without somebody beating something on the 1, 4, 7 downbeats.

Another solo goal would be to have the 'cleanest' sound ever. Totally synchronize your left and right hand so there's no little off sounds that result from a 'fretting' finger being late on the string to a bow change or string crossing. And learn total control along the length of the bow. They you'll be a oft-requested waltz player. Good luck! Playing in the country for the critters is a blessing!
 

all great advice and motivation! I do play Ye Banks and Braes quite a lot, it's one of those tunes that can be played happy or hauntingly. I USED to play it double bowed etc but I'll have to work back up to that. 
 

i guess I will work on my shoulder not moving so much and less bow, both things my instructor noted and he was right. I get very angry if I don't have a clean sound and force myself to start over if I don't. 
 

funny thing though, today I decided to record myself and what I thought was horrible off-tune playing, actually turned out to sound like....a fiddle player! Shocker! It wasn't perfect (of course as soon as I hit record I started making mistakes), but if I heard someone play like that, I actually wouldn't think they were that bad. I certainly could recognize the tune. Why is it I thought I was so off key and out of sync? 
 

thank you all for your encouragement and help. I realize that many of you are forced to be solitary right now but I guess I just wanted to know there were others.


May 4, 2020 - 6:09:53 PM

1997 posts since 10/22/2007

quote:
Originally posted by Ebowalker
quote:
Originally posted by farmerjones

I think playing Nursing homes is a great goal! Back before the big mess, i sort of had a monthly thing at several. Knowing it's coming in a month was/is motivation enough for me. I'm thinking too, if you only have a few fiddle tunes, make up the rest with patriotic and sing-along songs. You will not be appreciated more, i swear it.


Do people sing along when you're playing fiddle? I hadn't thought of that. 


It's possible. I do one single tune where i sing and play. A tune called Peg & Awl. But then again, i don't work on nor have found any tunes that grab me. I also do a call and responce version of Liza Jane. I stole from the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. 

May 4, 2020 - 7:57:02 PM
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Ebowalker

Canada

10 posts since 7/28/2010

quote:
Originally posted by farmerjones
quote:
Originally posted by Ebowalker
quote:
Originally posted by farmerjones

I think playing Nursing homes is a great goal! Back before the big mess, i sort of had a monthly thing at several. Knowing it's coming in a month was/is motivation enough for me. I'm thinking too, if you only have a few fiddle tunes, make up the rest with patriotic and sing-along songs. You will not be appreciated more, i swear it.


Do people sing along when you're playing fiddle? I hadn't thought of that. 


It's possible. I do one single tune where i sing and play. A tune called Peg & Awl. But then again, i don't work on nor have found any tunes that grab me. I also do a call and responce version of Liza Jane. I stole from the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. 


Oh my, I just looked up Peg and Awl, what a haunting beautiful tune! Definitely going on my list (fiddle, not singing). Thanks for the motivation!

the only sing along tunes I know are Green Hills of Tyrol, Flower of Scotland, Scotland the Brave and Lavender Blue. Oh and Danny Boy.  Geez, if I ever play to an audience they better be Scottish ;-)

May 5, 2020 - 6:46:36 AM
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2264 posts since 10/1/2008

Well ... yeah ... I will never be Kenny Baker. But I grow and learn and keep returning to his recordings. I hear a little bit more and learn a little bit more with each pass through. A good teacher , several really ... and thank you, have helped me limp a little closer to playing well. But as with many endeavours the more I know the more I know I don't know. < sigh .... so .. let us play on.... be it to Kevin Burke , Aly Bain, Itzak Perleman, Stephan Grapelli or master fiddler Baker. The moments of joy we experience in playing will keep us coming back. R/

Jun 3, 2020 - 5:59:12 PM

67 posts since 4/7/2016

Promised myself I would make a video recording of myself once a month.
Have started Artist Works with Darol Anger.
I hated to make the one video I posted for the course. It was very bad. I play much better when I am not recording. :)
It is almost time for a second recording for the course. My goal is to be less nervous this time.
The course and the recording gives me goals. It may also help me to play with the door to the room open someday.
I am compelled by a need to make some sort of music daily. I don't know why. I do know it is good for my mind and my disposition.

Jun 3, 2020 - 6:40:59 PM
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1997 posts since 10/22/2007

quote:
Originally posted by chas5131

Promised myself I would make a video recording of myself once a month.
Have started Artist Works with Darol Anger.
I hated to make the one video I posted for the course. It was very bad. I play much better when I am not recording. :)
It is almost time for a second recording for the course. My goal is to be less nervous this time.
The course and the recording gives me goals. It may also help me to play with the door to the room open someday.
I am compelled by a need to make some sort of music daily. I don't know why. I do know it is good for my mind and my disposition.


It's a good plan. I used to get motivated and make recordings. Several takes later, i settled. The next day i'd listen and nearly vomit. Ten and fifteen years down the road, it hasn't changed. But i still think the process, especially in the begining is a very good thing. 

Jun 4, 2020 - 6:45:42 AM
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4731 posts since 9/26/2008

I played solo much of my fiddle career. Solo fiddle is my favorite to hear, especially when I’m learning the subtleties of a particular player.

Record everything you play, listen back occasionally.
Record everything. Nerves go away with repetition, and much of the nerves just stem from the act of recording.
Listen back occasionally - such as when you have an audio goal (tone, intonation, rhythm) and don’t beat yourself up over what you hear, the internal critic can be harsh and hard to please. Working on those goals independent of each other helps to focus your practice and reduces the critique variables.

Jun 4, 2020 - 7:23:04 AM
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5783 posts since 8/7/2009

It's been a while since I've played regularly with friends. I'm hoping that changes soon. (I'm also hoping to get back into participating here at FHO.)

So, yes... I'm use to being a solitary fiddler. Please don't take this the wrong way, but I enjoy my fiddling.

Jun 4, 2020 - 7:55:43 AM
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Old Scratch

Canada

594 posts since 6/22/2016

Once every few years, I encounter someone who is willing and able to accompany a fiddler; other than that, I play on my own, and have given up looking for an accompanist. I mean, if it's a paying gig, I could find someone, otherwise .......

It's taken me - decades, really, to reach the point where I know I can play a few simple tunes in front of anyone without making nervous mistakes. For many years, it was hit and miss: one time I might have no trouble; the next time, I'd be so overcome by nerves - or brain dyssomething - that I couldn't manage it. The only advice I can give, if you ever do want to play in public, is to take three or four simple tunes - you're unlikely to need more, unless you're asked to play for a dance - and play them every day, day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year ... and then, maybe, you'll get them to the point where you can't play a wrong note.

Jun 4, 2020 - 9:52:44 AM
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5783 posts since 8/7/2009

quote:
Originally posted by tonyelder

It's been a while since I've played regularly with friends. I'm hoping that changes soon. (I'm also hoping to get back into participating here at FHO.)

So, yes... I'm use to being a solitary fiddler. Please don't take this the wrong way, but I enjoy my fiddling.


Sorry about that...  looking closer at the OP, I realize - I didn't really answer the question.

I have performed with the guitar and sang in bands off and on all my life. No real stage fright. I've enjoyed it.

I have played solo fiddle on stage, but never a full set with fiddle only. I have been the "fiddler" for gigs a few times with different groups of folks. But nothing regular. All OT time fiddle tunes. A little nervous, but I'm crazy enough to do it anyway. Folks are usually very supportive.

I haven't really performed much at all since moving back south. Used to play all the time up north. I kind of miss that... but not enough to go out and "solicit" work. "Things" down here seem to be a lot different than they were up north. My desire to perform is not strong enough to put up with the work that would have to go into it.

But - depending on the circumstances, I would be willing to play fiddle solo.  As a gig focused on "entertainment" I would prefer to mix it with a few songs on guitar (solo). I can sing a few songs while playing fiddle, but not many. And a gig with nothing but  instrumentals -  folks would grow weary of of that pretty quick. Mixing up with a few guitar songs would help...

Jun 4, 2020 - 6:50:09 PM
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11054 posts since 9/23/2009

I'm starting to enjoy my recording machine and youtubes (not with me in them, just my playin'...lol) more than real life fiddling. Although I have tried to get comfortable with myself on the camera too...ain't happening. But to just record in the quiet atomosphere of my own little pretty cheap but functional amateur recording studio set up, then put the recordings out on youtube...that, to me, at this point, seems more fun than I ever remember real life playing. At least in my own experience...my real life playing was often rife with burdensome stuff involved...lol...like, driving long distances, carrying the sound system up a couple of flights of stairs, setting it all up, lugging around lots of instrument cases...tuning up and trying to hurry before people got in there...playing for over an hour nonstop after working up the sweat just getting the sound system going...taking my "thank you," or possibly my 50 dollar check, hauling that heavy sound system back to the car, all the wires and cords and junk that goes with it, lugging the instruments...long drive back...etc., etc., etc. The little recording studio is a lot more fun. Normally I played just by myself...but even when I was in a little amateur band for two or three years...I was still the one with the sound system that lived the farthest away from anything, hauled around and set up that sound system, and lugged around three fiddles, a banjo and a guitar or two to each gig...like I said...the recording studio seems like more fun to me, and I like the quiet of the whole thing.

Jun 4, 2020 - 9:32:53 PM
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2531 posts since 9/13/2009

quote:
Originally posted by Ebowalker

I've returned to the fiddle again after probably a 10 plus year absence. I took lessons more than 20 years ago in Scottish fiddle and learned by ear... the advantage of course is after an absence with a bit of a start I can still play the tunes.

My biggest problem is confidence. In my head, if I'm not Itzhak Perlman, then what's the use? I have tried playing with 3-4 different individuals and groups and they were waaaaaay better than me and it was very discouraging. I so admire fiddle players who look so confident when they play.

I guess I just want to know if there are others out there who just play fiddle for themselves and never perform in front of others and they are ok with that. I am not a shy person, I really have no venue or group and I struggle with social situations (even going to an appointment is a sleepless night before) after the military, so realistically it probably isn't going to happen. But it does seem hard to motivate yourself. I am trying to learn some popular Irish tunes just to challenge myself and that is going well (Swallowtail Jig is so familiar to many Scottish tunes I know and I know how to learn by ear) but I struggle with the why? My fiddle teacher used to go to Nursing Homes to brighten people and I so admired this. I live in a rural area and I will go outside and play in the summer occasionally to practice but that's about it.

What is a reasonable goal when you are a solitary fiddler?

I don't want to show off, I don't want to play super fast, I would just like to play to a good level, pleasant to listen to. I would love to go to a fiddle camp but there's no way with my social issues. I have really enjoyed watching the videos and listening to the audio uploads here and the podcasts. A real treasure.

Any tips or guidance would be appreciated.


What is a reasonable goal when you are a solitary fiddler?

Goal is the right context, but others can't decide your goal for you.  What is "your" goal, what do you want to do with playing music?

In my head, if I'm not Itzhak Perlman, then what's the use?

That is a very limited goal of playing music. Probably will fail. There was another post about Mediocrity that might be of interest to you. There are many, many other goals folks have to participating in playing music; none of which have anything to do with Izhak.

when you are a solitary fiddler?

By solidarity... meaning no audience, just for yourself, pleasant for yourself to listen to? Solitary, solo performance pleasant to listen to for an audience, live or recording, is a different goal.

For myself, (and others), I most often play music just for myself... the goal is simply experiencing  personal enjoyment of the sound. The same joy of singing a song; it just feels good. Most often is simply to lift my spirits, to relax, turn a musical idea into a personal interpretation and expression of joy, sorrow... or many other expression. Participating also helps me understand or feel a song/tune in a different way than just listening.

Creativity is another goal that many have, the joy of engaging their brain to imagination and creativity.

For others, playing music alone might be more a  sense of personal achievement, or accomplishment. More skill oriented. Like solving a puzzle, playing it "right" as written, no mistakes, increased technical challenges.

For others the solitary, alone at home is more practice for future, practice for playing music with others informally (no real audience);  or practice for a future audience as solo; or part of group.

Just different primary goals, views of what playing music is for them (and probably have overlap).

Jun 5, 2020 - 6:13:38 AM
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67 posts since 4/7/2016

groundhogpeggy,
That seems to be a great way to play.
I want to be like you.
I don't like traveling.
Guess I won't be a big success in the music business. :) LOL

Jun 5, 2020 - 7:10:51 AM
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Old Scratch

Canada

594 posts since 6/22/2016

"In my head, if I'm not Itzhak Perlman, then what's the use?"

Just made me think of something - and that doesn't happen every day ... !

When I was around 30, I went with my parents to visit a couple both of whom were not long retired - so probably not yet 70 years of age. The husband in retirement had started piano lessons - and performed one of his pieces. I remembered it from my piano lessons twenty years or so earlier - it was "Sarabande in D Minor" by Some Name We Should All Recognize And Remember.  However, this was the first time I had simply appreciated it as a piece of music - previously, it had just been something I had had to learn so I could move on to more technically-demanding stuff.  Watching this man play, I could sense that he was absorbed in the music, and certainly feeling no embarrassment in performing a simple 'student' piece at his age and stage, and realized that there was no reason he should - it was good music, and mastering it was a worthy accomplishment.  So, the point is, I suppose, that sometimes the lofty goals we set ourselves - e.g., being able to play at the level of a celebrated soloist - get in the way of what we actually want, which for most of us is simply to enjoy playing music.

Edited by - Old Scratch on 06/05/2020 07:41:13

Jun 5, 2020 - 12:03:50 PM
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3031 posts since 6/21/2007

Alone is where most of my music gets played; guitar, banjo, fiddle, et. al., I used to run a monthly jam several years ago and would sometimes pull out my fiddle (I was at the very starting stage on it) if I felt comfortable with the tune, speed, etc.

Jun 5, 2020 - 1:26:36 PM
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1604 posts since 12/11/2008

Just play. Find a tune either from your memory or from one of the manuscripts you probably have and start sawing away. Back 'n forth. Back 'n forth. Let the muscles find their familiar paths. Luxuriate in repetition. Enjoy the noise.

Jun 5, 2020 - 1:50:06 PM
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176 posts since 6/3/2016

Historically, before the automotive and recording ages I have to think most amateur musicians played primarily at home for their own entertainment. The Bluegrass and OT "jams" and Irish "sessions" are modern traditions.

I mostly play at home for my own entertainment. I do participate in jams regularly, but it can be a hassle and it forces me to work on other people's repertoire, which is both a blessing and a curse. A lot of the tunes I play are not jam friendly. I work on them for months and then I go to a jam and can't play them. I like to play tunes in a very old Dutch tune collection. No one's going to play those. After jams start up again I doubt I'll be as active as I was. I like playing for myself.

Just imagine that it's 1870 and you live on a farm without electricity and your nearest neighbor is two miles away. You would play music in the evening just to pleasantly while away the hours.

 

Jun 5, 2020 - 5:07:22 PM
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11054 posts since 9/23/2009

If you play alone, you can do whatever you want, too. The artistic license is unbounded.

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