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Milestone: Five Years of Fiddle

Happy New Year, banjo friends! Welcome to 2018. I hope the holiday season was kind to you, and you had ample opportunity to play that five-string, or at least hear some good banjo music.

Each new year brings the promise of rebirth. We all create goals or make resolutions to help start off the year right. I'm no different. For me, though, Jan. 1 also marks an anniversary. It was on that date five years ago that I started playing the fiddle.

I bought my fiddle from my friend, Guy, who was also a big help over the years with numerous pointers. I got a decent carbon-fiber bow and started sawing my way through various instructional books and videos, including from Brad Leftwich, Bruce Molsky and Erynn Marshall.

Last year, as you know, I broke away from the instruction materials to learn tunes from the repertoire of Ward Jarvis. That project has gone a long way toward developing my abilities. However, I know I have a lot of work yet ahead of me.

As Dwight Diller once said, "It takes 10 years just to start learning the fiddle." I know I still need to work on improving my intonation and playing with other people, but I also feel it's important to recognize how far I've come in the last half decade. When I started, I was just screeching out scales and bowing simple tunes. Now, I have more than two dozen tunes I can play to varying degrees of competency.

The only drawback I've found to learning the fiddle is that my banjo gets played much less. However, as I had hoped when I was shopping for my fiddle back in November 2012, I do feel that the fiddle has helped improve my banjo playing in terms of rhythm and drive, as well as being able to pick out the melody of tunes I'm learning on fiddle.

Overall, learning the fiddle has been a great experience. It's hard to believe it's already been five years. I'm still enjoying the journey, and that is most important.


  1. Congratulations! Five years is a significant milestone. Last year was Ward Jarvis? What's on tap for this coming year? Something just as cool, I'm sure. :)

    1. Thanks, Cynthia. I haven't sorted out my plan for 2018 quite yet. I've considered a second "Year of Ward Jarvis," but I also don't want to get burned out on him. I'll be sure to post about whatever it is I decide.


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