Friday, March 20, 2009

Oh Fiddle Faddle!

From that 100-item list of Janet’s, I managed to write five posts on item two, which had to do with sleeping under the stars – five posts about something that I hadn’t done. So, there’s ninety-eight more items to consider, and at five posts per list item of things that I haven’t accomplished …

No, I’m just kidding, but point three asks if one has played in a band. I’m going to say yes … sort of.

Partly, it depends how one might define a band. That’s not easy for me because I grew up understanding it to be a brass ensemble whereas an orchestra was made up primarily of wood instruments like violins. To me, a musical group like the Beatles was just that – a musical group. However, somewhere along the line in pop culture, groups became bands, and that isn’t wrong because group and band are synonymous. I simply have to get used to the terminology.

In the sense that a musical ensemble of any sort is a band, I have played in a band – exactly once. Just over a year ago, I performed as part of the Blue Skies Fiddling Orchestra in their Christmas concert (blogged here). This was part of my delving into the world of the fiddle and attempting to learn to play the dang thing. I’ve mentioned fiddling in this blog on a number of occasions but nothing lately. So what’s up?

Not much. Although I had been participating in the jam (which, keeping consistent with this topic, I guess is kind of a non-performing band) in the early autumn, due to certain commitments and exigencies, I was forced to miss a number of sessions last November. When the missing continued on into December, I decided to wait until the New Year to make my return.

During my period of withdrawal, however, I realized that my arthritic hands and fingers weren’t doing too well, and I began to practice less. The thing is that I need to work on tunes quite a bit before I am close to being up to jam speed, and, since there are so many tunes to learn, that remains problematic. In the event, I haven’t been back to the jam in more than four months.

I still play for my own amusement (or amazement) once or twice a week, and I still really enjoy it when I do. But playing in the jam was hugely motivational for me, and now that I’ve set it aside, for now at least, it’s not the same, and I practice less.

It would be really nice if there was a slower jam for us less accomplished players so that I could still enjoy the band-ishness aspect of fiddling without having to practice endlessly, just to get each tune up to breakneck speed. However, it seems that, around here, even when slow jams been tried in the past, the more accomplished players tend to show up and end up imposing their preferred tempo.

Oh Fiddle Faddle, indeed!


Woman in a Window said...

Sounds like it's time for you to organize a new jam session. Music is so important. I wish I had some musical sense in my veins.

Mary said...


Arthritis puts somewhat of a limit on us Boomers, but I am glad you are still playing for your own enjoyment.

I certainly enjoyed the Rockwood tour and you've picked a perfect name for your studio. You made if very interesting. It's a beautiful area.

Enjoy the warmer weather we are to have over the weeked. Glad to see that you and Cuppa enjoyed your R & R.


Garnetrose said...

Arthritis can be a bummer. I don't have it in my hands yet but do have it in the back and feet.

I have no musical talent. I envy those who do. Music is important to me. It is a great mood lifter. I love celtic music and think celtic thunder is a great group and was laughing and singing along with some of their songs. It sure wiped my depression away.

Kila said...

Oh dear, that's too bad.

I'm thinking your granddaughter would enjoy hearing you "jam"!

Ginnie said...

I know what you mean about being motivated. I really need a prod to keep me trying...on the dulcimer.

Lorna said...

There,s all kinds of ways to love what you love.

Ruth said...

My husband plays in the "Old Timers Hockey League". You need an "Old Timer's Fiddling League". We need to perform to stay motivated to practice.

Turtle Guy said...

I've been playing around on the keyboard lately, and I have a guitar sitting in wait for a new string. I "fiddle" about too, mostly playing by ear to tunes that I enjoy. I can read only the most basic of sheet music, and can usually hit a note bang-on simply by hearing it. I've had coordination troubles since the beginning of time, but lately I found that yoga - believe it or not - has helped incredibly with the flexibility of my fingers.

Go to my yoga blog at On the left sidebar is a photo...

Try a Downward Facing Dog, spreading your fingers out and weight-bear on the root of your index, taking the weight OFF the wrists. Just hang out there for as long as you can. It also lengthens the muscles in your back. (Don't worry about getting your heels to the floor - few of us can do it!)

I should have asked for a tune or two when I was out, but perhaps I'll sport the keyboard on my next trip... thinking the East Coast in '10.

Pearl said...

maybe the slow jams could have an admittance test of a hard tune and all those who do it well get a handshake and a sorrowful, you're too good for here and a most insistent goodbye.

Janet said...

I should probably have clarified that band thing. It was at the college where I worked in 1994. Another professor and I, along with 2 brothers who were local musicians, gathered a group of about 6 students to perform a spring coffee house. We rehearsed for about 2 weeks prior to the show. I sang 2 solos, played keyboard on several tunes, and sang in 3 or 4 ensembles. It was a lot of fun, but a one-shot deal. I've never been able to participate in real jam sessions because I don't play by ear very well. So yes, slower would be better!