Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Econo-Version Violin


I've always loved violin music, especially, old-time fiddle music. I've always wanted to learn to play one. I took clarinet lessons from jr. high to high school, though I never found an opportunity to learn to play violin. It is one of those things that has stuck in the back of my mind, one of those "going to do that someday" things. Also on the list was running a 1/2 marathon, spending a month in Ireland and learning how to knit. So far, I've ran a 1/2 marathon and just found someone who is going to teach me to knit! Anyone interested in visiting the Emerald Isle?

In May, I got a the wild hair (one of many!)On impulse, I ordered a cheap violin off of ebay. I wasn't going to invest a whole lotta bucks in something that I may or may not be good at playing. I didn't know the first thing about it and even with an instrument and YouTube videos, I couldn't figure it out. I put in for a teacher and by August, the call was answered.

I've learned a lot since then. I've figured out the notes on the strings and for the most part, I can figure out where my fingers are supposed to go, though it doesn't always sound like I know it should. I learned that the only difference between a violin and fiddle is the style of music that is played on the instrument. I have also learned that my fingers and brain do not work nearly as fast as they need to!

I have a patient teacher that has taught me a great deal. Last night I had put my instrument away and he wanted me to try a few of the high notes so he handed me his. MISTAKE. BIG MISTAKE! Wow. I hadn't realized that I had been playing the cheapest violin in the universe! You get what you pay for folks. I don't know how much be paid for his instrument but I could tell an immediate difference between his and mine; his stays in tune, mine doesn't. His bow and violin much heavier than mine, sliding across the strings with ease. And the sound............crystal clear.

I guess when you are driving a Dodge Neon, you are happy to have four wheels and to get where you are going. You may not even realize that you don't have all the bells and whistles because they are not in front of you. Maybe there is a an am/fm radio with a working left speaker, so you are happy to have a few tunes that you know to sing along with since the air conditioner doesn't work.

And when you get in a Mercedes-Benz, you realize what you've been missing. Instead of one sun-roof there are two. Leather seats hug you where the old cardboard and cloth used to be. Music from the surround sound speakers float around you. Dual temperature control makes sure that you are comfortable as you glide down the road.

This is the difference between a cheap violin and one of quality. Yes, it gets me by and yes it has been a good one to learn on and now that I've test driven the luxury model, I know what I want (and what I am missing!)

It is not a huge priority to get a new violin. I am fine for now, with the one that I have, but I am looking now and that is more than I was doing before. Ode to Joy and Amazing Grace sound totally different when I play on a quality violin. This gives me hope that maybe I will be able to play more fluidly someday. I have hopes of playing by ear, though I realize that this is not my forte'. I do better with notes and lots of practice. Playing the violin does not come naturally to me, the pinkie finger is super challenging. I will stick with it though. It has provided a great 10 minute escape from my daily routine. I won't be playing "Devil Went Down to Georgia" or "Orange Blossom Special" anytime soon but I can now saw out something that resembles a song, with far fewer squeaks.

I don't know where I will end up, I guess I don't have to know. This is definitely a journey and one that I have to "tune into" daily to see where I am at. I can see why fiddle players have the reputation for "fiddling their time away", it is easy to do. It is almost addicting, because one good song, played right, will draw you back again and again. (sorta like the one good drive in my golf game!)

So if any of you reading this happens to know a wonderful, quality, old fiddle that would like to be dusted off and brought back into the land of the living, give me a shout! Until then, I encourage you to find something that you've never done but have always wanted to try. You may get the best laugh you've had at yourself in a long time. It'll be worth it too. We are here to live, to experince and to continually expand our comfort zones. Have fun pushing your own limit!!!!!
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