Affirmation: I love to make music. I am patient with myself and I know with time and perseverance each practice session makes me a better player and better is good enough.
Sometime in 2005 my daughter’s boyfriend asked me what I would like to do that I hadn’t yet done. Actually, the question revolved more around the fact that I have less time going forward than I have looking back. What would I do if I had all the time in the world? I immediately answered, “I’d learn to play the fiddle.” I was stunned. Where did that come from?
My Uncle Frank played the violin. I never heard him play but I knew that he belonged to a senior orchestra and that a lot of my aunt and uncle’s social life revolved around his music.
Most of my activities are very physical. I practice yoga; I like to walk and swim; I love to go to the gym and take some sort of class. I play golf. I thought it would be nice to have something I could do sitting down. Something that wasn’t so physical. That statement alone should be an indication of how little I knew about playing the violin or as I refer to it, the fiddle.
What’s the difference between a fiddle and a violin? The violin has strings and the fiddle has “strangs.” One of the children at the Walker Family Strings Camp told me that joke. I’ve been gong there for the last four years. I’m usually the oldest and the least accomplished student at the camp.
I’ve had at least six different teachers and I’ve been to summer camp and to my favorite place in the world, The John C Campbell Folk School, to participate in group classes. I practice too. I usually practice about four or more times a week. Now, I attend a class at the senior center. There are about five of us and the most wonderful teacher I could ever imagine. She’s gifted, kind, fun and forgiving. I also belong to a group called FFUG. I believe it stands for the Fuquay Fiddles (I can’t imagine what) Group. We meet every Monday evening for about 3 hours and play. There are about ten people in the group.
The first time I showed up at FFUG, I could not play a single note with the other gal who was there. Her name is Janie and that night I drove about a half hour to her house. I was the only one who showed up and I’d never played with other people. But, she took me in and told me about the “ten year program.” Janie was on that program. She had given herself ten years to be able to play the fiddle in a decent manner. What a discovery that was for me. I didn’t need to be perfect right away. In fact, I didn’t need to be a great or even a good player after several years. I could take ten years to get to where I thought I should be. I could take ten years and then, I could take another ten years. There is no rush.
When I told another friend I had taken up the fiddle, they told me they’d never do that. They’d want to be able to play right away. They didn’t have the patience for that long a process. I also know a lady who decided after she retired to play in a Bluegrass band. She ordered a wash board and thimbles from the internet and now, she’s performing with the band she joined. I have thought maybe I should try a drum or a triangle but I must tell you, I love the fiddle.
I love the sound, even when it isn’t the best sound. I love sitting with it in the evening all by myself playing the songs I’ve learned and working on new ones. Picking out the notes and the rhythm and eventually finding the melody. And, I love the people I’ve met because of the instrument and the places it has taken me. It’s been a great gift I’ve given myself.
I have to remind myself how I feel about it because I am very hard on myself. It is the one area of my life where I am very shy. I don’t mind playing with a group and blending in knowing my mistakes are hidden by the good notes of the others but when called upon to play by myself for someone else, I hide.
I’ve tried to come up with an affirmation for this learning experience and it has been very difficult. None of them sound good enough. Perhaps, that goes along with how I feel about my playing; it’s not good enough. But, what I have discovered is that while I don’t have any innate talent for the fiddle, none. Every time that I pick it up to practice, I get a little bit better. I can find the notes a little easier, my bow hold is more comfortable and my stroke more fluid. I read the music a little easier and there’s a nicer sound, less scratching and screeching. I actually may be able to play decently by the time I’m 90 or perhaps 100. Maybe the affirmation is simply: I love to make music. I am patient with myself and I know with time and perseverance each practice session makes me a better player and better is good enough. What about you? Do you have anything in your life you’re working on? Anything you wish you were great at, anything you feel shy about? What affirmation would you create to keep you going or would you keep going?