Music: back to the piano, other instruments, the fiddle again

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Back to the piano

Having decided to give up on the fiddle, I switched back to Paul and the piano in January 2010. We concentrated on playing from a fake book but, with all the chord-based theory I had done with Reid Campbell and with Paul in the past, I was at last able to move in the direction of playing by ear. I took lessons with Paul until April 2010.

Since then, I have gone back to doing my own thing but have switched almost completely from sight-reading sheet music to playing music from fake books and playing by ear. I am enjoying the piano perhaps more than ever before.

Other instruments

One year, Jacquie bought me a banjo ukelele and I had a brief go at playing it. Ukeleles are popular on the South Shore of Nova Scotia and there are several ukelele bands. If the opportunity arises I might give it a try one day. I’ve never played in a band, always solo.

I am interested in the harmonica or mouth organ and have four of them, all in the key of C. I bought a book on how to play the harmonica and have also studied online material. One problem I have with the harmonica, though, is that my mouth produces a lot of saliva so it’s a very wet experience. I’ve given it a back seat for now.

Ardyth and Jennifer are two singer/songwriter/harp players performing in Nova Scotia. In some of their music, Ardyth accompanies Jennifer on a tin whistle and the simplicity of it interested me. So, for Christmas, Jacquie bought me a tin whistle and an instruction book. I found it very easy to play and I got on well with it. Unfortunately I have the same problem as with the harmonica – a very wet mouth.

After playing the tin whistle, I found a recorder in a yard sale and bought it for a couple of dollars. I remember recorders being used in schools with young children so I assumed it would be easy to play. After giving it a good clean, I got some instructional material and tried it out. I found that it is not so easy to play, at least not as easy as the tin whistle. Anyway, I satisfied my curiosity.

Other than my early efforts with triangle, tambouring and castanets, I think that’s it.

At the moment (March 2012) I’m still playing the piano using fake books or practicing playing by ear. Occasionally I’ll sight-read some music to keep my hand in. I have quite a large collection of sheet music that I’ve collected over the years, although I had a recent clean-out, donating much of it to a local pianist/organist. As for lessons, I haven’t got the urge to take more at the moment but the urge will come.

The fiddle/violin (again)

In November, 2012, a neighbour gave me a fiddle and that has rekindled my interest. After adding new strings and string adjusters and buying some rosin, I am fiddling once again (or at least making the attempt!). A neighbour plays with the Trinity Fiddlers and I accompanied her to a practice session. I found it was more of a run-through of their Christmas repertoire than a practice session and the speed of their playing and the variety of key signatures encountered was rather daunting. It was an interesting morning, though, and I picked up some pointers.

Back at home, I downloaded from the Internet some fiddle music of Christmas carols and I am practicing them every day. I am determined to master this instrument (or at least not let it master me!).

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