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Showing posts from June, 2014

Leftwich Lessons: Second Quarter

It's been six months since I started working with Brad Leftwich's Homespun two-disc DVD series Learn to Play Old-Time Fiddle. This is my second quarterly report on my progress.

You already heard from me earlier this month when I switched over to Lesson 2. There hasn't been much progress in the intervening two weeks since then. I've been listening hard to a couple different versions of "Citico" to get the rhythm of the tune better fixed in my head.

I'm starting to hear how my slow playing will eventually become the up-to-speed version I'm listening to from Lowe Stokes, Leftwich and Marcus Martin. However, the Martin version is reportedly in AEAC#, aka "Calico" tuning, not GDAD as the Stokes and Leftwich are.

My biggest problem so far with this second disc is getting the feel of the syncopation on "Tommy's Lick." I'm hoping that it will click the more I play the tune and get closer to the sound, but it may require slowing dow…

The Next Lesson

All this playing fiddle in the park has been a big help in my progression with Brad Leftwich's instructional DVDs. Up until now, I've been consumed with Lesson 1 of his Learn to Play Old-Time Fiddle series from Homespun. Yesterday, I finally cracked the seal on Lesson 2.

The disc starts off with what Leftwich calls "Tommy's Lick" or what some refer to as "synco shuffle" (for syncopated shuffle), which leads to the first tune, "Citico." Shifting from simple saw strokes and basic shuffling to this style is tough to wrap my head around, and reading about it doesn't help — at all.

In fact, the more I try to understand it, the more nebulous it seems. I need to close the websites and open my ears.

While I don't yet have the feel for the bowing, I was gratified by how quickly I grasped the fingering for the tune, which Leftwich teaches in GDAD, a new tuning for me. Granted, it's not that difficult since the tune never drops to the high D …

Playing in the Park

Now that the weather is nice, my lunches have gotten much more old-timey. Instead of eating at my desk like I did through most of winter, I am now bringing my fiddle along and exiting to a nearby park to play tunes.

There's a quiet picnic area with a set of secluded tables that are usually empty when I arrive, providing a comfortable place to play away from the sensitive ears of others.

But usually empty is not always empty. Take today, for example, nobody was at the tables when I arrived, but about halfway through my practice session my solitary area filled with other lunchtimers and forced me to suck it up and play for a crowd.

Confession time: My demeanor is not the most extroverted, especially when it comes to playing music and even moreso when it comes to playing the fiddle. However, my midday forays to the park have helped me overcome the impulse to clam up or stop playing in the company of an unexpected audience.

Twice I've been complimented for my novice fiddling, and …