The Trials & Tribulations of Learning To Play The Violin & Tenkminnows Project Opt In
This blog post was inspired by a recent post from @chbartist The First Months of Trying to Do or Learn Something New...
I hope this post will encourage others to find the courage, determination and stamina to start something new and see though the first few months however hard they might be.Hard work always pays off and achievements can change your whole outlook on life.
Four Months Ago
17 weeks ago I started to learn to play the violin. For the first 10 weeks I taught myself using YouTube videos and then I signed up for lessons with Darol Anger through the Artist Works website. This is something that I have wanted to do for many years but I just did not have the determination or the passion to take it on. I have played mandolin for many years and more recently took up claw hammer banjo. I have played at a weekly Old Time Session every Tuesday morning for the last 4 years, so I know know quite a few fiddle tunes on banjo and mandolin. Many people believe that to play the violin you need to start as a very young child and by adulthood you will be able to play. I have to disagree with this because I know quite a few people that started as adults and after a few years were great players.
Deciding to learn to play fiddle I guess was born from my love of this music genre and over time I grew to really love the sound of the fiddle. One morning last November I awoke with this burning desire to take up this new instrument and I was lent a cheap Aldi fiddle by a friend. It sounded so terrible, partly because it was a cheap mass produced instrument and partly because I had absolutely no technique or tone. A few days later I was at a car boot sale and I stumbled across a violin for sale for $40. This is the one I now play and its a good quality entry level violin made in Italy circa 1997. I couldn't believe how lucky I was to find this, it was just waiting there for me and really made my day. I have played it every single day since then for about 40 minutes each morning and up to 4-5 hours every evening.
The First few Months The Pitfalls & Disappointments
In order to take on this mission I had to relearn so much of the musical knowledge I had applied to other instruments. I needed to develop a sharper and more accurate musical ear, despite the fact that in the first few weeks I hardly ever actually hit the note I was aiming for tonally. Usually it would be slightly flat or slightly sharp which made it difficult to know where the next note was. This became a nightly struggle through repeated failed attempts to make it sound good. Some nights I wanted to cry because it just sounded so squeaky and scratchy. "Was I actually getting worse?"
I would ask myself; "should I give up before I am reported to the police for animal cruelty" I couldn't believe how bad it sounded. The next day with fresh eyes and ears I would tell myself that it is expected that I go through this stage and that with perseverance it should pass...
Now that I have a better grasp of where all the notes are in first position and my tone has improved, it is becoming easier to play be ear. The pleasure that I am experiencing, which is increasing day by day, is so worth it and I would encourage anyone else who has the inclination to take up this instrument to give it a go. Or any instrument for that matter. However you must be prepared to work really hard at it and it push through the difficult patches and there will be plenty of those. When you finally get a technique right, it feels like you have just climbed up a big mountain; only to find that you are at the foot of an even bigger mountain... ad infinitum! One of my friends who plays great fiddle says:
The first Ten years is the hardest!
When you are in your tenth week this statement is hard to hear.
Light at the end of the Tunnel
I would have to say that this has been the most difficult musical enterprise I have ever taken on. Without the passion and determination to keep going, I do not think it would have been possible for me to do. I would not have been satisfied to expect to have waited for a year or more before I could play tunes with others, ( I have heard others say that it is considered the normal time to get good enough tone and mastery to join a group session) However after ten weeks I was taking it along to the weekly session. Some weeks I was the only melody instrument and the others were kind enough not to pull too many terrible faces when I hit a squeaky note or missed the note altogether. I did however feel the need to apologize to the other musos for my stuff ups but looking back now 7 weeks later, I realize how important those early sessions with others were to my progress and I am most grateful for their tolerance, patience and encouragement.
Photo taken by a friend at a music weekend in earlier this month
Why is Violin So Hard?
Violin is a hard instrument to learn, because you not only have to grasp the left hand, finding the right notes when there are no frets to guide you, but you also have to master the bow which at first is a completely alien object. I still have a long way to go with my bowing, but it is starting to feel less cumbersome. There are so many different bowing techniques used in old time fiddle music which are never really used in classical violin. These techniques are what gives the music its percussive full sound, often bowing two strings at the same time so you have a drone string ringing behind the melody.
Another pursuit I have been working on since November last year has been my #steemit blog. Although I joined the platform last July it was not until November that I got around to participating. Since then have put in some time every day, exploring the #steemit platform, posting, voting, writing comments and curating #awesomediycontent DiYTube posts. When I started my vote was worth nothing so I started buying small amounts of crypto and converting it to Steem and then powering up, whenever I could afford it. After my last $40 investment a few days ago I have reached 465 SPA. It was then that I received an invitation from @paulag to join the #tenkminnows project and strive to reach 500 SP and be reborn A MINNOW!
With similar determination to learning violin, I am striving to reach and hold minnow status on #steemit. For that reason I always power up all my earnings and have no intentions to power down. I would really like to help all the newer steemians to also achieve #minnow status.When your vote is big enough to make a difference to others, it becomes so much more meaningful to give #upvotes and to make comments and offer encouragement. One day I would like to reach 5000 and join the dolphins but I am a long way off from that.
Thanks to all for Reading my Post