Slow down, you move too fast

Fingers on the fiddleThere are a lot of great players out there who can play the crap out of a fast tune and make it sound really good. They play with rhythmic perfection, alluring ornamentation, and notes that are beautifully in tune.

The rest of us however, need to slow it down a little and learn how to really play the tune before we fire it off at lightning speed.

In my tune-learning experience, I find that in almost every tune, there is always that one little part that is either a challenge to bow, or there is an odd string-crossing, or the melody just doesn’t go naturally where you think it’s going to.

For some reason it’s our tendency to play these harder parts faster. Maybe we speed them up because we just want to get them over with. Kind of like pulling off that band-aid quickly so you don’t feel the pain for as long.

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What makes a tune hard?

MusicThere are some tunes that are just plain easy to play. They’re my go-to tunes when I have to start a tune at a session or play on command. I don’t quite know if I love playing them because they’re easy to play or if they’re easy play because I love playing them. Either way, I feel like I have them in the bag and can play them with my eyes closed, so to speak.

I was at the session at Salt Hill Pub in Hanover last week and I started a tune. The first time around it sounded pretty good but when only one person caught on and we were the only two playing, I started to flail a little and quickly switched to a new tune — an easier one. I remember thinking “why did I even start that tune, it’s a hard tune.”

I then wondered, what is it that makes a tune hard?

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Mastering the bow

Though the bow doesn’t look like much, you simply can’t play the fiddle without it. The bow is the rhythm. The bow is what makes the fiddle sing. And bowing is probably the hardest thing to learn when it comes to playing the fiddle.

Learning to a bow a tune can be tricky. Sometimes when I learn a tune I learn it note for note and bow stroke for bow stroke, according to what I hear. The problem with this is that if you are in a session or performance, and you end up on an up bow when you practiced on a down bow, you could get seriously tripped up (or down).

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