Learnin' to fiddle at 45, can it be done?

greenspun.com : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

Well, here I sit in the middle of my "middle age crisis", and I have decided to learn how to fiddle. Bought myself the violin, and got the book. Oh boy! What a squawk I can generate! Scares the dickens out of the cats!

Has anyone else out there learned a musical instrument later on in life? Tell me your stories....

-- Sandie in Maine (peqbear@maine.rr.com), January 16, 2002


Your post made me smile. My husband used to play electric guitar is his wild youth. I always tease him that I married quite a rocker! I have been looking for a used acoustic guitar for him to play for me. I think home made music would be cat's meow on the old homestead. Good luck with it!!

-- Stacey (stacey@lakesideinternet.com), January 16, 2002.

That's great Sandie! Attach a clothes pin to each side of the bridge. This will buffer the sound some. If you don't know how to read music, or want to learn how to play songs in a hurry without the work, get some music in tabulature. Any music store should carry this. Best of luck to you, you will LOVE it!

-- cowgirlone in OK (cowgirlone47@hotmail.com), January 16, 2002.

Thanks for the tip Cowgirlone, although it is funny to see cats fly!

-- Sandie in Maine (peqbear@maine.rr.com), January 16, 2002.

Do you really want to learn? Then of course it can be done. Do you have any music background at all? One teacher in the city near here uses tapes - he puts very narrow strips of masking tape on the finger board to mark frets, or places to put your fingers so you get a 'true' note. Then your fingers 'learn' how far they should be stretching to get the first note. Another way is to get a tape or CD of the kind of music you want to learn, listen to a bit, then try to mimic. That also helps get you learning in proper keys, not just anywhere on the fiddle. Music in the homestead is wonderful. Hubby is expecting his next shipment of wood anyday to build his second guitar. The first one turned out beautifully. His father built violins, and eventually hubby will too. Hubby plays guitar, I play piano - maybe one of us will learn to fiddle - who knows?

-- Bernadette Kerr (bernadette_kerr@hotmail.com), January 16, 2002.

Sandie, it's never to late to learn to play the fiddle. I am 45 and have been playing a couple of years now, although I took lessons when I was in grade school. I picked it up again when I moved here to Wisconsin to have something to do during the winter, and to give myself more balance in my life (I write technical documentation on the computer all day). On the fiddle, I play Irish Traditional and Old Timey (what I call American Traditional).

There are tons of resources on the Internet for fiddle - websites for tunes, mailing lists, good places to buy fiddle-related stuff online (books, CDs, instructional videos, etc.) Let me know if there is anything specific you are interested in and I could send you links.

I would recommend listening to a lot of fiddle music, whatever type of fiddle music you like. This will inspire you and give you some direction for learning various techniques later on. Some of my favorite fiddle players are Liz Carroll, Natalie MacMaster, and Kevin Burke.

I was delighted to learn that the area where we live, southwest Wisconsin, has a strong fiddle tradition and a book was even written on it! I found it in my local library, but later bought it at Amazon.com. It is "Farmhouse Fiddlers - Music and Dance Traditions in the Rural Midwest" by Philip Martin. It is full of lots of old photos and stories about the Wisconsin fiddle tradition and early homesteading. I just love it.

Have fun fiddlin' and keep at it!


-- Jane in southwest WI (ladyjane@mwt.net), January 16, 2002.

Although you are a bit of a drive from us, there exists in Mn the "Old time music and Bluegrass Association" that puts out a nice newsletter and has a big gathering in Zimmerman, Mn on the first weekend of August.

There are a lot of free workshops that allow you to pick or fiddle with the best of them as the workshops are taught by folks who make music for a living.

You would be surptised how many folks start learning an instrument a lot older than 45 and become quite good at it.

-- Gary from Mn (hpysheep@midwestinfo.com), January 16, 2002.

Yes,yes,yes it can be done and I did it. I am now 48 and have been playing for 3 years and love it. I just ordered a minstrel banjo today because I want to play that good old time country music I have learned to love. The fiddle is a most wonderful instrument and so steeped in musical tradition. I play by ear and by note. Note that every two strings side by side is an octave. Train your ear to play little tunes as Mary Had a Little Lamb and so on and before you know it you will be playing the Westphalia Waltz with grace notes. I listen and play everyday. I still have a lot to learn and I definitely am no Stuart Duncan, Clark Kessinger,or Lilly May Ledford but I can play. old time gospel is just beautiful and not to hard on the fiddle.Practice and patience is what it takes and love of the music. Hang in there and good luck. Terry

-- Terry Lip (elipe@fidnet.com), January 16, 2002.

Cowgirlone hi can you explain a little about the tabulature is it just for fiddles or eny kind. i would like to play something.

Bob se,ks.

-- Bobco (bobco@kans.com), January 16, 2002.

Bob, there is tabulature for a variety of instruments. I have some for the fiddle, and have seen it for guitars, (I don't use it for my guitar). The tabulature shows exactly which finger goes on which string and on which fret. You can learn songs easily. If you do a search under tabulature, you can see several sources. Next time you get close to a music store, have them show you some music in tabulature, you'll see how easy it is! Hope this helps! I wanted to mention to Sandie too that the fingering on the fiddle is the same as on the mandolin-so when you get the fiddle down, try the mandolin next! Have fun!

-- cowgirlone in OK (cowgirlone47@hotmail.com), January 16, 2002.

Wow, thanks everyone for the info, Tableture...I will have to try that. I am listening to Live 365's Celtic Highway to tune my ear.

Terry you inspire me! Thanks for the encouragement.

Neat, after I play the fiddle, I can play mandolin as well! That's great!

Let's see, so far in the family we have two learming fiddle, 4 learning piano, 3 learning guitar, playing around with recorders, harmonicas and I bought drum pads and sticks for the girls and I. (This was before we started homeschooling- we got started with rythms one morning around the kitchen table, and really got into it, no instruments, just using what was on hand, an hour later I finally sent them off to school with a note saying we were studying percussion, and got carried away- that's why they were late! LOL! I never heard from the school, but I am sure I turned a few heads about that one!)

And oh, yes, bought a kid sized set of bagpipes which actually produced a noise! Had a lot of fun with that one.

I'd like to pick up the banjo one day, but I want a hand made one, especially if I make it myself. Thanks everyone for your responses....anyone build any of their instruments themselves?

-- Sandie in Maine (peqbear@maine.rr.com), January 16, 2002.

I play guitar on a worship team at hurch and about four months ago a freind around 66 years old started taking Sax lessons and is now part of the team. I would go for it if I were you. God Bless

-- Don Amon (peacelane@certainty.net), January 16, 2002.

Yes absolutely. You should get with that old timey music association- -no matter where I've lived those folks are always the nicest and most generous in teaching/sharing music.

-- Ann Markson (tngreenacres@hotmail.com), January 16, 2002.

Sandie, I have never learned to play an instrument, but hope to buy a banjo when I get out of debt.

I would urge you to continue to try to learn, and attend a bluegrass or old timey music festival, if that is what you are hoping to play. I would guess, like bluegrass, that your type of music is everywhere, but maybe you haven't found it yet.

I think that you would be shocked to know how many people attend these things, and how much they are willing to help you.

-- clovis (clovis97@Yahoo.com), January 16, 2002.

Hi Sandie. Here's a little trick my cat taught me. Use a coin to scrape a little rosin into your palm. Then onto your bow. It coats it better. Tho my cat still hitails it at the site of my fiddle. It's really how you play it' than what you play. Luck!

-- Virgil Wright (VIRGNMARI@dragonbbs.com), January 17, 2002.

Go for it Sandy!!! I turned 40 last year and am about ready to start playing bagpipes after practicing this past year on a chanter. *grin* If You gotta do it, You gotta DO it!!!!!!!

Good luck and have FUN

-- Randle Gay (rangay@hotmail.com), January 17, 2002.

Randle, no offense, but I am glad we're not nextdoor neighbors :>) you both go for it, good luck on your musical quests. May the muse be with you.

-- Jay Blair in N. AL (jayblair678@yahoo.com), January 17, 2002.

OOooooh, bagpipes! I'd like to hear them! You guys are all so encouraging! Well, I am going to give it my best, I will try the rosin in the hand, thanks, I am giving it 1/2 hour in the morning, 1/2 hour at night. Hopefully the cats won't all leave home! LOL! Let's keep that music going!

-- Sandie in Maine (peqbear@maine.rr.com), January 17, 2002.

I am 64. I am learning to play the fiddle. I have played guitar, banjo (5-string) and harmonica in my lifetime. My fingers aren't as fast as before but I am taking my knowledge of fiddle tunes that I learned to play in the melodic style on the banjo and learn them on the fiddle. I find that each instrument has a pattern about it that your brain picks-up if you keep on trying over and over and not lose hope or become frustrated. Don't worry about how Stuart Duncan sounds or some of the other notable fiddlers. Don't worry about sounding as good as they do. Sound like you and be comfortable with it and you will improve and improve and improve. Pretty soon, you will sound very good to others. One seems to learn in quantum jumps, not gradually as most think. Just keep on keepin' on and on and on... oh, oh, I am out of tune.

-- Harlan Ross May (rossmay@bellsouth.net), March 16, 2002.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ