My whole life I wanted to play fiddle but there was always a reason not to. It’s too expensive to buy an instrument and take lessons. I’m too old. I don’t have a musical background, no one in my immediate family plays, and so on. There is no shortage of reasons why not to do something.
Finally, at age 30, I rented a violin and started taking lessons. Five years later, I performed in my first band, and a few years after that, we came out with our first CD.
Many people have told me that they could never play an instrument because they are just not musical. Phooey! If you have a heartbeat, consider yourself musical. It’s really just about practicing and being disciplined. Yes, there are some people in this world where it comes easy. But for most of us, it’s just practice.
Back in December, in the height of the pandemic, I decided in order to keep myself disciplined, I would commit to learning a tune a week for a year. That would add 52 tunes to my repertoire and force me to practice even though I don’t have a gig or session to play at.
We’re on week 34, and if nothing else, I’ve learned a good lesson in discipline. Some weeks I have been a little late in recording and publishing my tune, but nonetheless, I’ve gotten through 34 tunes in 34 weeks only by forcing myself to play even on days when I didn’t feel like it.
This week’s tune is a Paddy Fahey reel. Paddy Fahey was an Irish composer and fiddler from East Galway. Though he as a great fiddler, he’s never been formerly recorded and his music has never been published though it’s been played and recorded by many a great musician and has been passed down from generation to generation.
I learned this tune some time ago and relearned it this week. Some from memory and some from a recording of fiddler, Martin Hayes. It’s a tune that uses all 4 strings throughout and is a good tune to practice your intonation with.
As I was relearning this tune, I thought about my practice process and how I haven’t played this tune in literally years but my fingers remembered most of it and knew where to go. Though it’s been a great process learning new tunes for this project, I’ve had just as much fun relearning old ones. And committing to recording and sharing it with you weekly has forced me to practice, learn, relearn, listen, and stay disciplined.
Here is number 34. I hope you enjoy:
Paddy Fahey’s Reel: Tune 34 of 52
Join me next week for tune #35 from A Tune A Week.
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