August 14, 2008

Fiddler In The Classroom

I received an email from my fiddle instructor the other day. He wrote to inform his students of the upcoming last class as well as say how much he enjoyed this most recent group of Fiddle 3 students. He added that this group was one of the best he's had and its passion for fiddling is one of the reasons why he continues teaching. I thought that was incredibly nice, but I was instantly jealous. You see, I am not in the Fiddle 3 class. I am in Fiddle Two.

For those of you who do not know, I have been taking fiddle classes at Old Town (the same place I took belly dancing) for about 7 weeks now. I originally signed up for the Fiddle 3 class, pretty much dismissing the fact that I had not really picked up my violin consistently in eight years.

I showed up to my first class wholly unprepared. One of my string was completely out of tune, and given that none of my pegs would budge, the remaining three were iffy at best. Before we began to play our first tune something struck me as incredibly odd. There were no music stands. There was no sheet music to put on the non-existent stands. There was no music to read. How could I play without music? Never in my violin-playing life had I attempted to play a song without having the aid of notes to read.

My instructor began to play. He played a note. Then we played that note. Then he played a few notes and we repeated back those same notes. Eventually we had enough notes to create a phrase. Then he played the phrase and we repeated it back. It was very akin to a musical version of Simon Says. (By the way, how cool is that link!) I was trying my best to keep up, but there happened to be a lot of very good Fiddle 3 players, and they did not need to take it as slow as I did. I tried hanging in, playing about one of every three notes. And then my string broke.

That’s right. My A string broke, the string that happened to be featured in this particular fiddle tune. I stopped and my instructor noticed. He advised I go next door to Old Town’s store and purchase a new A string. As I walked to the store I contemplated just walking home. I was clearly going to miss a large portion of our fiddle tune, and it did not seem like I’d ever be able to pick it up. But I also did not want to give up after having sat through less than one class.

I walked back into the class 20 minutes later, all my strings intact, only to realize my fellow fiddlers were half way through learning the second half of our tune. Every fiddle song has an A part and B part. My string broke half way through the A part, and I walked back into class half way through the B part. It was official. I was never going to learn this tune. I struggled through the rest of class, now getting only about one of every five notes. My eyes kept darting from my instructor's finger placement to the clock.

I breathed a sigh of relief as my instructor played the tune one last time so we could record the song to practice it during the coming week. Did I mention I also forgot to bring my recorder? I forgot to bring my recorder.

One saving grace of the class was that a guy who brought his laptop offered to email the tune to those of us who were less prepared. That is how is came to be that I was not in Fiddle 3 but received emails for the class none the less.

After my foray into Fiddle 3 I hemmed and hawed and weighed my decision to stay in the class drop down to Fiddle Two. I decided that remedial was better for me, but felt a little sadness in doing so. This class was over my head - or was it. I didn't really get the full experience with the string break and all. But I didn't want to spent my entire Fiddle 3 session frustrated at my lack of playing abilities. Honestly though, did I think I was never going to pick up Fiddle 3? Did I imagine myself as the slowest girl in class, the one the teacher would always be stopping and correcting because she was the one who just couldn’t get it? Yeah, I think part of me was afraid. I’ve always felt more comfortable sitting on the end of over qualified than I have under qualified. But as I walked out of Fiddle 3 that night, I remember thinking what a great accomplishment it would be to just jump into the class, play sloppily and then one day just get it. My fears didn’t let that happen, though and I remained in Fiddle 2 secretly though, (somewhat voyeuristic ally) receiving the Fiddle 3 songs via email.

I guess it serves me right that after weeks of peaking in on the Fiddle 3 activities I was able to find out that I had missed out on a whole lot of fun. The lesson here is I shouldn’t let my doubts get the best of me. I guess now I can only hope that when I take Fiddle 3 this next session, my instructor will find my group as delightful as the last one. Really though, I'd just like to be half as good as these kids. Or her.

1 comment:

Alexis said...

good for you for taking the class though! so how is fiddle 2 going? sounds like such fun! I need to move to chicago and do cool stuff like belly dancing and fiddle lessons...going to Wiggles concerts doesn't seem quiet as cool :)