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Plays Pretty for Baby

It's not like he claps along, but there's something magical about playing the fiddle (or banjo) in front of my son and not having him scream out in holy terror.

My morning routine has changed slightly, after my wife asked if I could watch the baby a little longer in the mornings when I feed him so she could catch some uninterrupted shuteye. She didn't think my playing music in the attic would disturb her sleep, and we have a bassinet up there for our son to sleep in while I saw away.

To my surprise, he quickly dozes and let's me have my half hour of practice time. Hopefully, there won't be any irreparable harm to his ears or psyche when all is said and done.

This week I picked up Brad Leftwich's Old-Time Fiddle Round Peak Style from the library to see if it was worth owning. There's a lot of information to parse. You can download the CD tracks for free, and having read most of the non-tune parts of the book already, I'm not sure it's a must-have. But I do like his emphasis on bowing. Perhaps I should try learning one of the tunes before I make a final decision.

With Bruce Molsky's recent video about bowing on standby, my sole focus has been using to tunes I already know to work on my bow strokes.

Although, I must admit, I've been polishing up my playing of "Rye Straw (Joke on the Puppy)," which I learned from my friend Russ and probably is the last tune I learned before my son arrived. Overall, it's getting smoother and almost recognizable.

One thing I've noticed with all my focus on bowing (e.g., circles, figure-8s and bow rocking), my rhythm has gotten a bit hurky-jerky of late. I think I'm thinking too much. Regardless, it doesn't seem to bother the baby. He sleeps right through it.


  1. Glad to hear it's possible to fit practice time in with all the responsibility of a new baby! Here's to hoping the kid takes up mandolin and you can get a family band goin'.

    I recently started learning how to play on a fretless banjo, and the Brad Leftwich book has been a huge help. Tommy Jarrell's banjo style is totally different than what I was used to, so it's a good reference to have. I haven't looked at Leftwich's fiddle book, but if it contains tips on playing "When Sorrows Encompass Me Round" and "Bonaparte's Retreat" the way Tommy play's 'em, then that may be worth the price of admission alone for me!


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