Friday, July 31, 2009

sawin' out your praises

I woke up this morning to the sound of heavy rain. (It is pouring out there folks.) And the first thing, the very first thing, I did (after stretching and listening for the roosters) was grab my fiddle and welcome the morning with the song Great High Mountain. I played it slow, and then fast. It woke me up, and seemed to be the perfect way to ring in my three-day weekend.

I took off work today because I had a lot of farm and housework to do before my parents arrive in Vermont this afternoon. They are coming up to spend some time here with me and enjoy a cool New England summer. ( I hope the rain ends soon though, as most things worth doing around here involve being outside. Also, wet sheep aren't much of a thrill for anyone). Anyway, I miss them and look forward to their visit. As that rain pelts the red tin roof—I am in no rush to get outside and meet it. The animals were given their last feed and check-in at 11PM. They will be fine under the cover of their sheds and coops till 8. I'm currently making scrambled eggs and waiting out the rain. I'd feel guilty for not seeing them first if I didn't already know they were all warm, safe, and dry in their respected houses. So eggs it is.

So! This wet morning marks the end of our Fiddler's Summer Challenge. If you're new to the blog I'll summarize quickly: FS was a dare. I dared readers of this blog to go out and get a fiddle and an instruction book and start learning a few tunes. A few dozen people took the reigns and tried this; buying, renting, borrowing or stealing violins to start playing along. Over the past few weeks I've received emails, videos, and stories of people and their music. It's been such a joy to learn about people getting through their first tunes. Today I asked that anyone and everyone who joined in to comment on this blog post with a link to a video of their playing. We'll all vote for the best new fiddler and runners up, and those folks will be mailed books and prizes, as they have certainly earned them.

Oh, and before I forget. This photo was taken a few autumns ago at the Old Timer's Mountain Music Festival outside the Smokies in east Tennessee. In Scratch I tried to explain the excitement and comfort of this gathering, but I think photos do it better. These strangers in the snapshot don't know me, or each other, but they pulled up their lawn chairs and instruments and they all started playing mountain music. In a clearing in the valley, under the shadows of those blessed southern mountains, they just played. They shook hands, raised their instruments, and strumed songs written by people long dead. My point is: Fiddler's Summer wasn't about us. It was about keeping those moments, camp sights, songs and memories alive. You may only be able to squeak through a few songs now, but you are a fiddler. You have the will and violin to prove it, and you should be damn proud. Because even if you don't think it sounds good to you, some kid or neighbor may catch you playing on your back deck and fall in love. They'll hear your music and decide they need to learn too. Cold Antler Farm does not enforce safe musical practice. Go out and play with all the friendly and willing strangers you can find. The disease spreads and we're all better for the infection.

Now, post those videos and never stop playing.


Blogger Stephen said...

I am having trouble figuring out how to make and post a video off of a mac. It has a built in camera. Any suggestions?

July 31, 2009 at 7:51 AM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

Hey stephen. I have a mac too, with the built in camera. look up iSight tutorials, you can make movies with it and upload the saved quicktime file to youtube

July 31, 2009 at 8:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a question for all the readers and Jenna that is not about the fiddlers challange. I really want to be self suffient but I'm learning and what I've been reading is great but I really think I need a mentor or work for a farm to gain much real world experience. Do you think if I tried to get a farm to take me on instead of paying me with cash that I could be paid in food that the farm produces instead? Would that be a fair exchange for labor? And do you think any farms would do that? Is it worth a try? And anyone looking for a 2005 ford Escape in NH I'm trying to sell it so I can get rid of my monthly payment. Any takers let me know email

July 31, 2009 at 8:40 AM  
Anonymous Shelly said...

Hey Anonymous...I have been volunteering at a farm since Feb.It is an organic farm in Hillsboro VA. Run by a community, They let people come and stay as long or as little as they want. I live in the area, so I just come during the day...I love it!
Jenna, can I put up a link here?

July 31, 2009 at 8:51 AM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

Okay, here goes.

Two points: my audio does not sync with my video and I have no clue why. I've never used the movie maker program before.

I had a longer, better video, but my camera saves them as .mov, and it was 77MB large and would have taken two hours to upload via broadband. I had intended to upload it anyway, but I left it at home this morning. Oops! (And there's no way I can upload at home.) So, here's my video:


Don't laugh too hard. :)

July 31, 2009 at 9:15 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Hey! .I didn't take part in the Summer Fiddler's challenge, but it was a good reminder/encouragement to me that I've wanted to learn to play the harmonica for several years! If you or any of your readers know of an instruction book for harmonica that is as good as the fiddle book you recommended, I'd be interested!

July 31, 2009 at 9:54 AM  
Blogger Kate Mary Betty said...

I didn't take part in the Fiddle challenge, but is is an instrument I will to learn to play. I love the idea of the challenge, and the kick in the pants to go do something now, not later, because later never arrives. Jennifer, thanks for sharing your video. You get two thumbs up from me!

July 31, 2009 at 10:11 AM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

Jennifer that was beautiful! Sugar Hil!! and tell me more about your fiddle? is it one of those mountain fiddles handmade? it is a pretty thing. You better be proud darling, it's been a couple weeks and you were fiddling.

July 31, 2009 at 10:47 AM  
Blogger girlandcat said...

Ok here it is... I have been playing for about two months now and this is my favorite of the songs I have learned. Jenna I wanted to say thanks for starting this and giving me the motivation to really put in some practice time. I just bought a book of old Scottish music to work on after i have mastered this book. I have really come to love this instrument, so thanks again!

July 31, 2009 at 10:58 AM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

Hey Jenna,

Thanks! That makes me feel better. :)

Yes, my fiddle was handmade. I really like it a lot. It was made by Blaine Horlocker of Smokey Mountain Dulcimer Works.

July 31, 2009 at 10:59 AM  
Blogger Tara said...

I'm going to decline to post a video, I'm afraid. Having to re-string, re-tune and totally re-start put me too far behind. Check with me in a month! I'm enjoying it, though. And well done, everyone!

July 31, 2009 at 11:32 AM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

Hey girlandcat5--I love that song! You sound really good. :)

July 31, 2009 at 11:40 AM  
Blogger mk said...

Here's another link for anonymous to a group that posts from farms looking for help and helpers looking to farm.

July 31, 2009 at 11:41 AM  
Blogger johnrweait said...

I have played guitar for 15 or so years but always wanted to fiddle. I recently acquired one in the spring and started to learn. A couple days later the instructional book mentioned on your blog arrived in the mail from my sister. I wanted to share my progress on one of my favorite tunes, Cherokee Shuffle. Thanks for listening! Love the fiddle challenge!

July 31, 2009 at 11:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Goodness, I'm nervous! I'm not really a posting-videos-of-myself kind of girl. And I had tons of trouble deciding which song to record, so I recorded two, although I think I've settled on Sail Away Ladies as my official submission. The other was Blackest Crow, definitely one of my favourite songs, but Sail Away Ladies I think better shows how far I've come...

I also have a video recorded on the first day of the challenge (June 2nd for me) playing Ida Red that I had wanted to post for comparison's sake (not to mention giggles!) but youtube isn't too happy about it - it compresses it into 8 seconds so everything goes by in a blur! Anyone have any idea why it would do that? I'll post it later if I figure it out.

In any case, Jenna, without your kind words of encouragement and guidance, I would never have gotten this far (and continuing on and on!) on my own... Thank you so much!

July 31, 2009 at 12:13 PM  
Blogger Kimberly Ann said...

I can't get my video up until Sunday but I've certainly enjoyed the challenge. Thank you for suggesting this, Jenna.

July 31, 2009 at 12:43 PM  
Blogger Jen said...

Hi Jenna! I wanted to tell you I just finished reading your WONDERFUL book! It really spoke to the farm girl in me. Thank you for sharing your experiences with all us urban dwellers who long to be free to farm!

Love your blog! I'm happy I came by!

All the best,

July 31, 2009 at 1:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Alright, Flickr has decided to be agreeable:

This was on a different camera, with poorer sound and visual quality, but the beginner-ness definitely shines through! I even grimace a little when I miss a note... :) It was a shock to re-watch it this morning after the last two months of practice!

July 31, 2009 at 1:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for your help with the working on the farm sites.I had one other idea I've been cooking a lot and going to the farmers markerts. I would really like a cook book that had receipes from all the food that you can cook from your garden. I love all the recepies that have been on this site and I have tried all of them. Maybe that would be a good next book project. If not keep posting those awsome receipes!! Thanks again!

July 31, 2009 at 2:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Jenna. So in lieu of a fiddle, I've been working on mandolin. A growth in my shoulder a couple of years ago has left me with limited movement which makes it difficult to play the fiddle or guitar. A mandolin is a perfect fit for my arm. I love it! I've been learning "Liberty", Soldier's Joy", Red Haired Boy", Cripple Creek", and others. Thanks for the inspiration to play music.

July 31, 2009 at 2:28 PM  
Anonymous Shannan said...

Ok everyone here is me playing Shortnin' Bread. I have only been playing about a month so I hope that I do not make your ears bleed to much. ;)

To everyone else who submitted videos, you guys did great.

July 31, 2009 at 5:27 PM  
Anonymous Misty said...

AWESOME videos everyone! Ok, mine is awful, in a hurry this morning, I hate cameras and this was really hard for me, but it's called a challenge right? I am just praying that my husband is not dispatching it to everyone we know :) I really enjoyed the challenge and will continue to practice. I only made it through three songs, but I am pleased.


July 31, 2009 at 6:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, wow, you guys are so very cool to post here for us all! I am enjoying watching them SO much! And belfountain, it was very rad of you to post your beginning song.

I feel so good to be among you even though I can't post a vid. I feel good that I'm doing about average with the rest of you. And I can't wait to see more....more, more, please (grin).

I'm going on vacation for a few days late next week and didn't want to miss practicing, so I bought a mute for my fiddle so I can practice in the motel room, though I'm told this one probably won't give me the quietness I'm looking for, dang it. I'll have to think of something 'cause I'm not missing practice for 5 days.

July 31, 2009 at 6:57 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

Just so belfountain isn't the only one to embarrass herself, I posted my Day 4 of playing the fiddle on my blog back in June--I watched it this afternoon and couldn't believe how much better I sound now! :)

July 31, 2009 at 7:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow good job everyone. I missed out on the challenge, but my sister and I both rented a fiddle a few days ago, we're working on them when we can, and are squeaking and squawking our way through. I will order that book soon enough, as it seems to have helped everyone.

Thanks again for the wonderful site Jenna, and for pushing us to do things we have always wanted, but never would have got around to doing.


July 31, 2009 at 8:17 PM  
Blogger Heather T said...

Here is my testament, although it sounds rough in patches, I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to this point in my fiddlin education.

Please go to to see my clip.


Heather T.

July 31, 2009 at 8:54 PM  
Anonymous René said...

Just wanted to say "way to go" to everyone who participated in the challenge. I missed the start of it but I got my fiddle yesterday and I hope I'll sound as good as you all do after a few months.

July 31, 2009 at 9:39 PM  
Blogger Karen Sue said...

Phew Jenna!!
I have finally read through all the old posts and am caught what am I going to do at work while I wait for things?? I am too late for the challenge, but I put a bid on ebay for a fiddle and may just give it a try anyway!! Now I need to read your book and get the scoop on what happened before Vermont. Thanks for having fun and being honest. I live in Western NY state with a hubby and 4 kids, a border collie that has NO training and some wild veggies that are learning to swim this summer!! Good luck picking a winner and maybe I'll just have to challenge myself if I win the ebay prize!! Was wondering if you were a routine person before you had animal chores, or if it fell in then because of necessity...

July 31, 2009 at 10:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jennifer, you did good for having just a few weeks' fiddlin' under your belt! Congratulations!


July 31, 2009 at 11:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow! Congratulations to all the fiddlers! I am impressed. Thanks for being willing to share.


July 31, 2009 at 11:26 PM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

So I've only been able to watch Jennifer, Girlandcat5, Bel, Shannan and John so far, but I am so impressed. Hot Dang. The best part is how everyone finishes their song with a slight smile.

Jennifer - you need to post the link to that site you got your fiddle because people should see what a traditional appalachian design looks like. You're holding history, and keep playing! You did fantastic and I could not stop smiling the whole tie. You sounded exactly like my first recording of the same song, about a month into playing...

Bel - is that a Firefly poster in the background? If so, that is extra fantastic. I love Mal Reynolds. And your Sail Away Ladies was played very well! Great tone too. Way to tuned that gal proper.

John - WHEW! You deserve a spot at a barn dance already and your little girl was adorable.

Shannan - Great job on shortening bread, you nailed it and you looked so happy when you ended the song! Be darn proud, girl. I think whoever taped that for you also supports your playing! What a guy.

Thanks to all who posted so far. I'll keep watching (just slow on dial up here in sandgate) and I'll check in later hopefully with my own posted video. Maybe I can get Annie to sing along with me....

So far all four folks are winners in my book. I have 6 total prizes to mail out - the winner and 5 runners up. If you haven't posted yet, don't worry. We'll take submissions till Monday and then we can all vote. And if you just go t your fiddle, mando, banjo, harmonica...whatever. Welcome to the club.

August 1, 2009 at 7:00 AM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

Prizes so far are:

Grand Prize - Vermont Gift Package with Wayside Tee, maple syrup, Maude's wool (raw), and Southern Mountain Fiddle book and CD (and other things I throw in) along with a thank you letter from me.

Runners Up:

Storey Books such as Pocketful of Poultry, Raising Animals by the Moon, The Home WInemakers Companion, What'sThat Bird - Beginners Guide to Backyard Birding, The Backyard Homestead and more... And every winner gets a letter and a farm feather bookmark.

Keep Posting Videos Folks!!!

August 1, 2009 at 7:08 AM  
Blogger From the Country Farm said...

Unfortunately I didn't know about the challenge until just a short while ago because I certianly would have tried. This past winter my daughter was given a 250 year old violin to play. First we had to find an instructor, it ended up being too big for her so we bought another used one, but to make a long story short, since we have two in the house I'm planning to buy the book and her and I will give it a go this fall. I know it's too late for this, but thanks for the inspiration and memories that we'll make. Thank you all who posted it's been very inspiring and thank you Jenna for the idea!

August 1, 2009 at 7:27 AM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

Jenna, I'm glad I'm not the only one on dial-up! :)

Here is a link to Smokey Mountain Dulcimer Works for anyone interested:

He also has an ebay store (with a better picture of the fiddle):

And a better picture of my fiddle is here:
(there's also a picture of my other fiddle and my guitar, too.)

August 1, 2009 at 7:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jenna - yes, it's a Firefly poster! or Serenity, technically. I just started re-watching the series, and Malcolm Reynolds has been dutifully watching my fiddle progress as you can see (he has his "very serious face" on too!).

And to everyone who has posted so far - marvelous job! I keep thinking, if this is how far we've come in 4, 5, 7, 8, 10, etc., weeks, just imagine where we'll be next summer! Perhaps next year, in addition to the second annual Fiddler's Summer Challenge, there ought to be a Fiddler's Summer Challenge Alumni Jamboree? Just saying'... :)

August 1, 2009 at 10:52 AM  
Blogger Knittymama said...

Yikes! It's the end already?? :-)
Here's my clip, snuck in today during naptime:

Thanks, Jenna!! This has been fun.

August 1, 2009 at 4:38 PM  
Blogger Rachel B. said...

Wow...It's hard to believe that you just started a few weeks go! Congrats everyone for learning the fiddle!
I would have participated but I found this blog a little too late, but I will try anyway! Can anyone point me in the direction of a cheap fiddle?

August 1, 2009 at 7:02 PM  
Anonymous René said...

So I've been having some interesting times with my cheap eBay fiddle. It wouldn't stay in tune so I did some googling and found that people recommended peg dope for the problem so I went to the music store where they told me peg dope is out dated and gave me something else. I came home to start working on the fiddle. I decided to look up a picture of just how things were supposed to look on the peg box and realized the pegs are actually supposed to stick all the way through. I fixed one by sanding off a burr on the peg and another on the hole in the box and it now sits flush. The other two are still back 1/4 of an inch in the box but I'm waiting to see what the ebay seller says before I get out the rubber mallet and gently try to make things fit right. Amusingly, while searching for the solutions to various problems I came across this:

I laughed and felt a little better about my frustrations. Hopefully now it'll at least be able to hold the tuning and I'll actually get to attempt to play tomorrow.

August 2, 2009 at 2:36 AM  
Anonymous Sherri said...

Okay, well I hope that I have made the deadline for tonight! Thanks Jenna for lighting a fiddle fire under me to get back into the fiddle.

here's my video... it's a little corny but hey, that's me...

I think I've come a good deal further than I have before... fun stuff!

August 2, 2009 at 11:54 PM  
Blogger Michele said...

I didn't get a chance to enter into the contest, but everyone seems to have had fun with it. The vids are great!

Jenna- come over to my blog. I have a bloggy award over there for you! (Sunday's post)

August 3, 2009 at 7:20 PM  
Blogger Kimberly Ann said...

Here's my video for Old Joe Clark (1 month playing):

August 4, 2009 at 9:08 PM  
Anonymous Heather said...

I didn't learn the fiddle - I can't hear most of the notes, they're too high for me. (I'm profoundly deaf). But after reading your book, specifically the chapter on music, I went to listen to some banjo, guitar and dulcimer music. Discovered that I could hear most of the dulcimer music.

So... I'm learning the dulcimer!

August 11, 2009 at 7:35 AM  

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