Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Fiddle Camp

Fiddle Camp

So this summer I signed up for fiddle camp. The invitation came via Facebook, inviting youth thru adults who had never played, never even held a violin. Perfect description of my skill level. A week-long class, three hours a day, should help me decide if this is something I want to pursue. I signed up.

August 1-5, I was to be immersed in the fine art of fiddle playing.

Day One: I learn that I am the only adult in the class. Yep, the class was me and around 30 5-10 year olds. My pant leg was tugged more than once as a small child asked how to put the shoulder rest on their violin, how to tune the instrument, did they need to rosin up their bow. "I'm a student, not a teacher," was my reply. "But that lady over there can answer your questions."

I learned how to pick up and old my violin in the rest position. I learned how to get it to my shoulder - place your finger on the button, put the button to your ear, slide the violin to your shoulder, tilt your chin up, look to your left, lay your chin on the chin rest.

Excellent. One day in and I can get my violin safely from the case to my shoulder.

Then, on to percussion. We spent about 45 minutes each day working on a couple of percussion numbers which were to be part of the recital on friday. I became very aware of the age difference between my peers and me when the instructor said, "OK, you need to take the buckets off your heads." I looked around the room and at least half of my fellows had placed there buckets on their heads and were banging ferociously on them with their drumsticks. I am so past that!

Day Two: The kids now know, without a doubt, that I am their peer in this week's class. Ha! Told You!

This day there was actual playing. Once we had practiced getting the instrument to our shoulders several times, we started working on finger placement and plucked out a song (this would be the song we would play most for the duration of camp, and would perform at the friday recital. Yikes!) Over and over we played. Perfecting our little tune. As I focused on playing, on learning and doing my best, the differences in age seemed to disappear.

Day Three: Today we were introduced to our bows. Things started to get fun. Our song started sounding like a song. For fun we got to try a new song. One know-it-all girl started getting on my nerves. Every time the instructor would say something, Ms Know-it-All would add her own wisdom or correct her. This is the same day another youngster, I'm guessing she is on the Autistic spectrum, decided I was her protector. I was OK with that.

Day Four: Tomorrow was the big performance. We practiced and practiced - fiddling and banging on buckets. There were those who were scared, Those who were having fun, those who played well, and those who only thought they did. Seems like these are the same personalities that show up in just about every situation in life - school, career, parenting.

At the lunch break, Ms Know-it-All told my frightened, clingy charge that she could only go outside with the group if ... and she proceeded to rattle off her checklist. I do not know what came over me, but I looked at Ms Know-it-All and asked "who made you boss of the world?" I felt the hysteria bubbling up inside me. And for the life of me i can't explain it but it was very liberating to say those words again.

That night I practiced several times, feeling confident I could get through the recital.

Day Five: Ms Know-it-All was somewhat subdued (comparatively) so I know someone had a chat with her. We did a run through of the recital, and the parents started arriving. There are several I knew. One asked if I'm a teacher. "No, a student," I said. "That is very brave," she said as she laughed her way over to her seat. Another said, "I thought everyone knew only kids came to this camp." At this point, I had a little chat with myself. I could either go the totally self-conscious, freaked out route, or I could be playful and just go for it. I decide to go the playful direction and stick it out through the recital.

We started off with the percussion. My theory was that this was to numb our listeners sense of hearing before the fiddling began, but I could be wrong.

We, the beginners, played our song. And you know what? It sounded good. It sounded like a song. Woo Hoo. We did it!

Then, we had a couple of special guests who were expert players. Wow! If we practice (a lot) maybe we could play that well ... someday.

Finally, the intermediate group played several songs. They did great!

Now, a month later, I see my fellow fiddle campers around town. They come up and talk to me. What do we talk about? Fiddling, of course. For in that, we are the same age.

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