Growing up, life got busy. The idea of getting and playing a violin ended up on the back burner. Still, every time I saw one, my interest was renewed and I kept promising myself I’d get one someday.
Last fall, I couldn’t get it off my mind, so I started researching on where to buy and how much it would cost. I wanted an inexpensive one just in case I couldn’t figure out how to play it. Ebay made it possible and I found one for very little. It came with strings, a bow, a semi-hard case, two bridges, a chin rest and a cake of rosin.
All those cool options aside, the ultimate sell-point was that it was available in loads of color options. I ended up going with green, one of my favorite colors.
Just as I was about to buy it, my sister stepped in and asked if she could get it for me, as a Christmas gift from her family.
A free, brand-new, shiny-green violin for Christmas? I was way blessed!
It came with no shipping costs, delivered right to our door. Nee (my sister) wrapped it up in plaid paper (another favorite) and stuck it under our Christmas tree.
Opening it on Christmas was a definitely one of those gifts I’ll never forget, right up there with my all the toy guitars and stick horses I got every Christmas for several years, a Huffy Thunderboard (long skateboard), my purple Nerf football, a new saddle blanket, curry comb and a crop (which was only for looks) that arrived on my ninth birthday, and a blue typewriter, that I used and wrote short-stories on with two fingers when I was in grade school.
My new fiddle was every bit as beautiful as I hoped it’d be. Its gleaming-green finish gave the strings of Christmas lights some serious competition as eye candy.
I started getting familiar with it right away. It turned out to be one of the most difficult instruments I’ve ever worked with, second only to the trumpet. (Sigh...)
What to do
Violin’s don’t have frets. Frets are raised areas along the instrument’s neck, that look like small bars. They help musicians (playing other types of stringed instruments) know where to place their fingers. Violins are bare under their strings.
The lack of frets was something I could live with, though. It was the bow that was doin’ me in.
Bowing looked so easy but it so wasn’t!
At least for me...
When I actually tried it... ai-yai-yai! It required a whole new level of patience that I had to spend time in prayer to achieve. Thankfully, God gave me patience and access to YouTube!
I spent some time researching proper bowing techniques and several options of string positions on the bridge. Finally, I managed to produce a few notes that didn’t sound like cats fighting.
From there, I began practicing scales (you know, like in the “Doe, ray, me, fah, so, lah, tee, doe” song from The Sound of Music) on each string. Not long after, I felt improved enough to explore a little further, and wanted to play a simple song.
I opted for Amazing Grace. Learning the hymn was when I sincerely wished violins had frets, but the missing frets were nothing compared to trying to move the bow over two different strings without bowing them together.
Stressful, but well worth learning ‘cause when I finally pulled it off, I felt amazingly accomplished. In case you’re wondering, no... I’ve still not perfected it, but I’m having lots of fun getting better and better at it.
Turns out, I sincerely love playing the fiddle. Even as limited as I am in what I can do with it, I look forward to my short bouts of practice time and in the doing, I wanted more songs to be learning. I consistently did searches on YouTube during my down time, but wasn’t finding what I needed until this past weekend.
Sunday afternoon, I discovered an awesome channel on YouTube that’s provided exactly what I need.
The channel is called Pizzicato Peeps. It stars two women, pro violinists, who present their super-short lessons in an incredibly easy-to-follow method. I needed blonde-friendly training and they delivered.
These ladies teach viewers...
These ladies teach viewers...
🎻 How to hold their bows
🎻 How to do simple exercises to increase dexterity and strength in bowing and noting
🎻 How to learn finger positions along the neck without frets
🎻 How to play by ear (listening) and corresponding musical graphs and notes
Here’s an example of one of their simple tutorials...
A fiddle for you, or as a gift
Not everyone’s into music, but if you’ve ever considered trying on a fiddle for size (yup, they do come in different sizes) I suggest Ebay to be your first go-to site. There are several companies that offer inexpensive violin-packages which prevents spending a lot of moolah on an instrument that may, or may not, maintain your interest.
I’m very pleased with mine, although I plan to upgrade to a higher-end violin within the next year. I’ll hang onto my green one as well because I sincerely love it, and it makes for awesome-sauce pictures!
I’ve already picked out my next one. It’s made by a small, family-owned company with over 100 years in the business and comes in brilliant blue. 😎
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marcoujor, Virtual Buskers Guild
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