March 2020 Fiddle Progress Report
Posted on March 16, 2020
Oh wow, the Ides of March slid right by me, and I’m a day late with my progress report! Where has this month gone?
Feb-March has seen a lot of change for the better. Practice continues to be consistent. I’m pleased with the kind of tunes I’m playing, and overall just enjoying practice much more than I was before.
Last month, I hit the realization that I may have been asking too much of myself and trying to play tunes that were beyond my comfortable skill level. I completely stopped everything I was doing at that point to give my practice content a good look-over and make some changes. This has improved things for me so much!
I also started taking the lessons at OAIM, which I’ve enjoyed immensely so far. It’s wonderful to not just say “One day, I will learn to play Irish music.” And actually just be learning it! So far, I’ve learned Maggie in the Woods, and I am now working on Terry Teehan’s Polka. Neither songs were I familiar with, but there’s still something identifiable in the note progression of Irish music that makes it feel familiar.
I also started to put more focus on warm up exercises during my practice. I’d already added a random scale of the day, which has been working great! But now I’ve also added long open-string bowing, and have been focusing a bit on bowing straight and clean.
And finally, as a reward for consistent practice last month, I bought ScanScore 2. This is software that can scan sheet music and turn it into a MIDI. I then convert the MIDI to WAV and have added it as the sample song to my Tune List. This has been working really well! I’m trying to do at least one or two songs a week and have been updating my Tune List as I convert them.
Speaking of the Tune List, I have gone back to fully randomized review for old tunes this past week. But I’ve done it with the intention of weeding out any songs that just feel like I need to completely relearn them before I can play them. So far, I’ve only removed two songs (Cripple Creek and O, Holy Night). I’ve been surprised at how many of the AFM tunes I actually still remember well enough not to struggle with.
The goal is to ensure that the review portion of practice is actually a review, rather than re-learning. I shouldn’t be spending more time on the review than I do with learning the newer songs.
Overall, I’ve been making good progress and staying consistent. I’ve been pleased with this past month. If all goes well, I plan to reward myself for consistent practice with trying out a new chin rest at the end of March!