NEW HOMEPAGE LANDING PAGE Forums Practice Questions Coming back from a break

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    • #18256

      Hey all. I had a bad ear infection with hearing loss for the last month and a half. My hearing is partially restored, so I’m going to play tomorrow, but I know I’ll sound awful and be vexed with myself. What do y’all do, if you’ve had a lapse in practice for whatever reason? I don’t play for anyone but myself but it is so, so hard to play when I sound bad. And it brings up a problem I’ve always struggled with: why pursue anything that I’m not particularly skilled in? Does anyone else ever have those thoughts, that they shouldn’t ‘waste’ their time doing something that other people can do better with less effort?

    • #18842


      The night after you wrote this I stumbled across your post. I was writing my response when my wife needed my attention for something or other, and then life got busy. Buying a new home, moving, working constantly, and then going on vacation- my time was filled. But, the whole time I was away from Fiddlehed it didn’t sit right with me that I had left you unanswered. I can’t remember all of what I wrote, but you deserve someone to respond.

      So, if I could travel back in time I would tell you I’m so happy to hear that your ear infection has cleared and your hearing has improved. I know I started off with that.

      As you can imagine from my timeline I mentioned earlier, I am always having lapses in my practice. There is frustration because it’s something I WANT to do- but there is just so much else that HAS to be done first. And some nights I just pass out from exhaustion, after telling myself “I’ll do it as soon as I get done vacuuming, oh, but wait- there’s a load of laundry that needs to get folded and put away- I really need to get that done first.” Next thing I know it’s midnight.

      I really do understand how you feel about the dread of playing after you let some time go by. I try to warm up by playing slowly and seeing if I can remember a few bits of a song from memory. I just got done beating my way through “Shortnin’ Bread” after 2 weeks of not picking up my fiddle. It took me a bit before it came back, but I lost myself in the concentration of what the next note sounded like and finishing it all by myself gave me a little boost to try with “Ballydesmond Polka”. I didn’t focus on playing them well, just getting the finger movement right, because all I need (For me) is to remember that YES! I did know these songs, and even now I can remember them after a little bit. Then I head into an actual practice session- with focus on melodic and rhythmic variations on scales. I don’t try anything new or crazy- just like dipping your toes into a lake. I find it refreshing.

      Now, I’ve gone and rambled about the things I do to help me get back into the swing, but you hit on something a bit deeper- so I’m going to keep right on trucking here.

      Why pursue something you aren’t good at? To what end do we proceed so boldly?
      This is a deeply personal thing, and what I feel and what motivates me could be completely different from your experiences. Nevertheless, I hope they help.

      I also only picked up violin to play for myself (and torture my wife). I had just hit 31 and had wanted a cello for almost a decade, because I never got to play any instruments in High School, and was now older with no real skill or hobby or thing that I could say “I learned that, and I’m not very good- but by God, I did it.” Well, cello is expensive, and violin is not… so a violin I bought. I don’t have dreams of playing on stage, I would love to find other people to play with in a session- but there aren’t too many Irish folk fans out there. But my motivation is in the sounds I can draw out from my violin on those very few occasions. It’s the nights when I’m on fire! I hit that hard set of notes and know I did them well. I think it’s bad hat to call your playing a waste of time if it still brings you joy to hear the notes come out. If they sound bad one night, you slow down, turn that jig into an air and feel the music- the vibration on your cheek and in your ear.

      In the end, it’s about you and if the music makes you feel good. Not accomplished, not well played, but good. When I play, all my anger and tension and worry pours out of me. I know that nobody can hear me, so I don’t sweat a flat note here or there- I just play- It may just be a scale that I’ve chopped up and am playing the major notes of, but it’s something easy that I can lose myself in.

      Perhaps this is a long winded version of saying that if you are putting in so much effort that you aren’t having fun, try without so much effort for a few nights and check to make sure you still love what you are doing, which is making music and doing something completely for yourself and at your own pace.

      I don’t know if that helped or not, but that’s how I approach it… but I sort of have to, I don’t have a live instructor around, so it’s just me and this Fiddlehed site.


    • #19424

      Well, thank you for so thoughtful a response. I’m a farm worker, and this is my busiest time of year so not a lot of time to practice, but yesterday I took just half an hour to fiddle around. I played some scales, some songs I know, and otherwise just improvised. I had such fun, and felt so peaceful, and my boss’s dad was kind enough to say he enjoyed my playing. And just like that, with my wonky hearing, my sad lack of talent, and all my other obstacles, I remembered the most important thing is to play if you like to play! And I do. I just like to play that old fiddle, so I’m gonna make time for that!

    • #20395

      “Keep doing it until you are proud!” This was written inside the cover of my Dove chocolate candy the other day. I have decided to adopt it as my mantra.

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