Do you ever find that you feel tense when trying to learn something difficult? Maybe you’re practicing the hardest part of a tune, but it’s not sounding the way you you think it should. The tension you feel actually makes it harder to achieve that very goal you are trying to achieve with practice.
Letting go of tension
You might just need a slight attitude shift. Here’s a way to change your perspective and also inject fun into your practice: Speak with your fiddle.
Try to see what you play as everyday speech. Imagine you’re just talking, having a simple conversation. The music you’re making is simple everyday speech.
This will engage you with your practice in the present moment. It might help to lighten your approach, to be less serious and frustrated with yourself.
How do you speak with your fiddle?
Start by saying an everyday expression and then simply playing a bit from a fiddle tune you’re working on. It does not have to match in rhythm or pitch. What you’re trying to do is just match the feel of speech.
“Hey, how’s it going?”
First, try to chant it, and then try to sing it.
A variation on this is to practice call-and-response with a simple interval, like D0-2. Play it twice and then say “Fiddle music”. You can alternate chanting and fiddling, singing and fiddling, or some combination of chanting, singing and playing.
For more call-and-response practice, check out the library of Tuning Exercises.
Take expressions that you and people around you use everyday and make similar exercises. Experiment. It’s a way of loosening up your approach. Below you’ll find more suggested exercises that will help you discover your own way to practice this.
“It’s good to see you!”
“This is really fun!”
“Sitting on a baby bumble bee.”
“Fiddling, fiddling, all the day through
Don’t you got nothin’ better to do?”
“I need to take out the garbage.”