For some time now I’ve been working on learning fiddle. I have to say that compared to other instruments I mess with, it’s difficult. Early on I decided I would try to learn this instrument by ear, and dispense completely with written notation. This I think is the normal way to learn folk music. Of course the normal way consists of passing the music on from generation to generation – learning from the old guys. I’m not surrounded by fiddle players or even many people interested in fiddle, so I’m learning with the help of an online learn by ear fiddle course.
The course is very cleverly put together. Although I still sound terrible on fiddle, there is no doubt two things are happening. I’m accumulating skills and I’m improving my listening. The latter has also helped my banjo playing, simply because I’m hearing what is going on in the music much better.
One challenge is I don’t want to stop playing banjo to focus on fiddle, and at the same time I’ve been playing some button accordion again after taking a hiatus from that instrument. It’s difficult to find the time and keep up the discipline to play everything, and when I’m having difficulty with fiddle, it’s easy to blow off fiddle practice to learn a new tune on banjo, which at this stage is much easier for me.
When I started messing with the fiddle, my fear was that I was starting into it some 20 years too late. I had almost convinced myself that it was something I couldn’t learn. I’ve played banjo with some very very good fiddle players, and I’ve frankly been in awe, convinced that short of say, making a deal with the devil, humans just can’t play that thing. However, I found myself with a fiddle and I took it on in a way as my folly.
It became quickly apparent there is a steep learning curve, at least early on, but I’m starting to think I might actually be able to learn to play this thing. At the same time, it’s teaching me patience. I recognize it is simply going to take a fair bit of time and lots of effort, and I’m determined to stick with it.
As an adult learner, what’s the toughest thing you’ve taken on?