One winter, as a snowboarder, I tried to learn how to teleski. Though I can’t say I mastered how to ski, I can say that because of trying it, I became a better snowboarder.
I feel the same way about music. Lately, I’ve been learning different genres of music and playing more mandolin and uke than I have in the past. I have also been exploring the way I play my fiddle and trying new techniques, bowing styles and learning tunes from various other traditions besides Irish, and on various other instruments besides fiddle. It’s been a lot of fun and very challenging.
When you’re used to playing in a certain genre, playing in a new one is like starting from scratch. You instantly become a beginner again. Sometimes accents are in different places. Sometimes you need to play a different rhythm than you’re used to, and sometimes you have to learn a whole new bowing technique that feels awkward. But when you’re learning something completely new, it seems the things you learned in the past automatically become better. At least this is the case with me.
This past summer I have been exploring other genres such as Bluegrass, French-Canadian, Danish and a little old-timey music and I have come across some beautiful tunes. Some of which I can actually play.
If you haven’t explored other genres, I highly recommend branching out and trying something new. It can only enhance your playing, strengthen your ear training, and offer a whole different perspective in the way you play music. One way to jump in is to visit other sessions and learn some new music.
There are many sessions around Vermont that welcome tunes and songs in various genres. I suggest attending some of them to build your chops, if not your repertoire.
If you’re interested in checking one out, visit Durty Nelly’s on 51 King Street in St. Albans every Tuesday night beginning at 6:30pm. The weekly session welcomes Intermediate skill level musicians with moderate tempos in the Celtic traditions including Irish & Scottish and Quebec tunes, some more contemporary songs. Regularly present instruments include banjo, whistle/recorder, mandolin, guitar, bodhrán, accordion and the occasional silver flute, pipes, and fiddle.
View the full list of sessions in Vermont.