Sunday, March 31, 2019

Old Friend

A few days ago I restrung my fiddle and replaced the battery in my tuner. The fiddle was already wiped clean and fussed over, as was the old case I have had since I lived in Idaho. Even free of dust the case is so beaten and the stickers all over it are fraying. Rightly so, as it has been with me for over ten years, throughout this country from Idaho the New York. The old Smoky Mountain stickers are fading right next to the Sandpoint and Vermont ones. One clasp is broken entirely so I use and old dog collar as a belt of sorts to keep the thinner neck section shut. It is as scrappy as this farm and my fiddler's education. I like it.

I am keeping a small handwritten journal of my practice sessions. I titled the journal 50 Songs Till Summer, and the goal is to relearn and sharpen 50 beloved tunes to the point of flawless playing from memory by June 21st. Through out the journal I mark songs I am working on, giving myself little musical rewards when I hit a certain goal. For example, when I have memorized and perfectly performed the first five songs I am working on - all in a row without a single mistake - I am rewarding myself with a new container of Hill Dark Rosin. In ten songs I will replace the broken bow I am using, which I stepped on by accident last fall. It still works but you can't adjust the tension since I somehow stepped on the frog.

These goals are all depending on if I have the funds to get such things, but I am pretty sure I can figure out the rosin at least. The bow won't be a fancy bow, by any means, but it will be encouraging to have these small victories and presents to look forward to. And I am glad I am at a point in my life where I am not interested in picking up new hobbies or instruments. I want to get better at the things I have.

As for my playing? Well, If I am honest, the notes that first came out were awkward and tired as a drunk cat. I cringed, trying to remember how to match the balance, tension, fingering and sawing motions. After twenty minutes or so I could hear pieces of the D scale fall into place. It was like jumping off a stone bridge into cold water - relief.

My old friend is coming back to me. Some things can't be helped and some can. The new strings, the bridge alignment - these adjustments are better after the weeks of neglect. Other things like the way the cold of winter altered the shape and curves of the wood - even slightly - that changed how a note sounded. I played through it. Adjusted. Practiced.

I got through many renditions of Ida Red and Rain and Snow. One or two of them even sounded good. I decided that the rest of this week was theirs. I would play those songs a lot, so many times the dogs would confuse them with their own names, and get back the trust of that fiddle through regular conversation. It's like starting a relationship from scratch after three months of the silent treatment, literally.