Saturday, April 7, 2007

What's on your mind while you are fiddling?

Hello from the National Folk Festival in Canberra, Australia. While I have my flat white in a pancake house with free wireless, I thought I post a note.

Here are some of the things that have run through my mind while I'm playing my fiddle:

Controlling my fiddle face
Bow hand checking
Note accuracy
Who can hear me?
How do I sound?
What do people think?
How's my jam etiquette?
My hand/neck/jaw/shoulder/back/leg/[insert body part here] hurts.
Am I doing [whatever] the 'right' way?
Darn, I should have paid closer attention to what key this tune is in!
Is this the first A part or the second A part?
Is this the first B part or the second B part?
Is this tune crooked or is this the first B part?
What the heck? Is this a 3 part tune???
Ugh! I hate rags / 3 part tunes / modal tunes/ 1 part tunes / waltzes / fast tunes / slow tunes / [insert pet peeve of choice].
Isn't that baby / guy / gal / tee shirt [insert distraction of choice] cute!
I'm so hungry / drunk / sleepy / nauseous / stuffed / confused [insert mental or physical state of choice]!

I find it helpful to turn off or fix as many of the above as possible. Narrow down your thoughts to things that are related to the perception of the tune and the psychomotor skills necessary to hit something close to the melody. Or, if you're more advanced, something close to the harmony or chord structure for your double stops. If you're hungry, eat something. If your back hurts, sit down or stand up or take some medication or get a different chair and so on. If you're too drunk, well that's beyond the scope of this blog. See if there is an I' or start your own blog.

How's your fiddle face? It doesn't matter. You're not trying to perform at Carnagie Hall. You're just trying to learn how to fiddle enough to have fun. The day that I stopped trying to control my face was the day that my fiddling improved 10 fold. Seriously. I think there is something diametrically opposed between our ability to make music and our ability to relax our faces. Even artists in Carnagie Hall sometimes twitch an eyebrow or spasm a cheek from time to time. Forget about it. I say to folks that I can either be pretty or play the fiddle, but I can't do both. :-) Well, perhaps I can't do either, but at least I enjoy my fiddle time. If you spend time thinking about what others might be thinking about your facial expressions, you're taking away concentration from the things that really matter to getting the tune out.

Ta ta. Next stop.... Ashland, Oregon.

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