Skip to main content

Enter the Fiddle

Contrary to my original goal, the fiddle has had a detrimental effect on my banjo playing. That is to say, only 10 percent of the time I've spent playing music this year so far has been on the banjo. The other 90 percent has been all fiddle.

The screeching and scraping began just before Christmas when I purchased the old German trade fiddle you see in the photo above. With the help of Wayne Erbsen's Old-Time Fiddle for the Complete Ignoramus, I've learned the D scale and the tunes "Ida Red" and "Say Darlin' Say."

After an in-home trial from Shar Music, I chose a Presto Encore carbon fiber bow. Now, if only they could transplant the right arm of Melvin Wine in place of the one I've got, which can't seem to get the bow to saw across the strings in a consistent manner. It seems to move left and right almost as much as it moves up and down.

My poor banjo has sat neglected. I pick it up a few times while I'm practicing the fiddle to see if I can transfer what I'm playing from one instrument to the other, but that's a work in progress.

I'm trying to take my time and internalize what I'm learning. I'd still like to get some personal instruction to make sure I'm on the right path, but it's nice to have guide to follow.


Popular posts from this blog

Master and Apprentice: Banjo Builder Workshop in Historic Peninsula, Ohio

The 191-year-old Peninsula, Ohio, provided the backdrop to a parade of pedestrians making their way from station to station across the bucolic village for Music on the Porches on Saturday.

Inside the close confines of Bronson Church, founded in 1835, a master and apprentice presented a free workshop on the art of instrument building. That master being the renowned banjo builder and artist Doug Unger and his former apprentice Mark Ward.

Unger and Ward began the workshop by playing several old-time tunes, discussing their work and the music, and taking questions from the audience. Unger then invited the spectators to step up to the front to see the instruments.

Highwoods Documentary Not a Lost Cause After All

So, once upon a time, I tried to drum up support for a crowdfunded documentary project about the Highwoods Stringband. I donated money to help out, and more than a year later I provided an update on the slow progress. Last I heard, there was some old footage of the Highwoods they were trying to acquire. It's been three and a half years now that I first heard about the project, and I still haven't received my DVD.

I figured that's the risk you take with these crowdfunded, Kickstarter-type projects. I had all but given up the documentary as a lost cause. Until today. If I managed to convince any of you to help fund the project, I felt it my duty to pass along this update directly from Highwoods mainstay Walt Koken.
"After several delays and setbacks, we, the members of the Highwoods Stringband and Mudthumper Music have procured the vintage footage and photos in cooperation with the original producers and put them into the hands of another videographer, Larry Edelman, in …

2016 Year in Review / 2017 Look Ahead

Well, it's been a minute, hasn't it? The last year has been difficult on many fronts. Playing music was no exclusion. The amount of time I spent playing banjo and fiddle suffered the most. I didn't blog much either, which you already knew. But it wasn't all bad. Here's a look back at last year and a look ahead to my goals for the year ahead.

2016 Notes
I have now been playing banjo for eight years and fiddle for four years. My focus remains on the fiddle, as I try to learn general technique and tunes. Time spent playing banjo was mostly to keep up with a handful of tunes I like most.

Playing Time: Due to increased work travel and other factors, my playing time was dramatically reduced in 2016. As mentioned before, I log my practice time in the quest to reach that fabled 10,000-hour mark. This last year was my lowest (by far) amount of time spent on banjo and second lowest time on fiddle.

New Tunes: Despite my reduced playing time, I worked through two fiddle instruct…