I stood at the door peering in and just about deciding not to go in. But when Bruce came along heartily encouraging me to enter, of course I went in for that's what I had come to do — go through that door. Except that I hadn't expected it to be that particular door.
Three years ago we moved to this area; shortly after we attended a Celtic Jam Session in a nearby hamlet. That, in turn, nurtured the idea that I had shoved way back into the deep recesses of my brain, the idea of trying to learn how to play the fiddle. I had taken a few violin lessons as a kid, about forty-five years back. And I had kept the violin in the attic for all of those years. Well, it didn't do well in the attic, so sent it off to Goodwill before we moved here.
It had not really been a burning desire to try to play the instrument again; I hadn't gotten very far the first time after all, and then life intervened. But to some extent, I guess I had always felt that I had some unfinished business that I just might get around to attending to someday if the wind blew right. So, moving to this crazy area with its crazy fiddlers and such and then going to that Celtic Jam kind of set the tiny gears of my tiny brain in motion.
That was three years ago, and so two years ago, I rented an instrument and purchased a How To Play the Violin book, and I began to fiddle around — so to speak. And then I took some lessons, all with the knowledge that it was rather too late to become any good at the thing but that just maybe I might be able to participate in a jam session someday — a session like the one that I had attended and enjoyed so much.
So, I've plugged away for two years, mostly on my own, mostly in the basement not too close to the cat's delicate ears — to say nothing of Cuppa's. My teacher says that you really teach yourself, and her job is just to offer a bit of guidance and direction every now and then, but that it's really up to me. And so I've been pretty diligent down in the basement. I even joined a fiddling orchestra last September and played in the Christmas Concert but left it in May. The leaving was for various reasons, one being distance and the other being the concept — basically I didn't want to play for others. I wanted to play with others. There's a difference.
I guess you've figured out where this is heading, eh? Yup! Last night I got to the door of a local Celtic Jam Session ... and was about not to enter ... until Bruce came along almost shoved me through. The reason why I had demurred at the last moment was that they had moved the jam from the private back room of the local restaurant right into the dining room, and I had never wanted to try to play for an audience, particularly not on my first attempt. I know my limitations after all.
But, with Bruce's encouragement, I did enter. It was as I knew it would be. Many tunes were played that I didn't know, and even those that I was somewhat familiar with were played at a breakneck speed that left my fingers fumbling ineptly. But it was okay; I played some notes and nobody heard or cared about my myriad miscues. And when I couldn't play, which was much of the time, I listened and/or hummed and/or whistled, and it was all good.
When it came my turn to call the tune and play at my own preferred speed, I did. Of course, with my luck I picked a tune that few of them knew, and the first verse was, therefore, almost a solo. But I played on and got through it, and I have lived to recount the tale in this little space of mine on the world wide web. It's my story, or a chapter of my story, as I journey through this little life of mine, so I get to tell it as I wish and whether anyone else wishes to hear it or not. Which I just did.
And if you stuck around to read this anecdote to its conclusion, Thanks. It took a bit of courage to get as far as the door, and it took a bit of a encouraging shove to actually go through it, but I did and am a little glad and a little proud: proud that I have made the attempt, not of my playing ability — not that by any means.
PS: I happen to have a picture of the now famous Bruce. I took it at another jam that I attended (to watch) just over two years ago with camera in hand. He's the somewhat out of focus guy on the right.