I know that I will never be a decent fiddler. Sure, I practice almost every day, but it’s usually for 15 minutes or less because of my schedule. It’s not like I’m not motivated, it just has a lot more to do with my life’s situation.
Age: I’m 57, and it’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks. I’ve been practicing regularly for about two years now, but it’s hard for a lot of things to sink in when you have so many other concerns in your life.
Health: I’m overweight, a diabetic, and the arthritis is starting to kick in. Time that could be spent practicing the fiddle is spent exercising just so I don’t have a heart attack in the near future. The arthritis is affecting not only my fingering of the violin, but fretting the guitar as well. I have a tough time playing simple bluegrass leads on guitar that were easy to do just a few years ago.
Responsibilities: I’m taking care of an 89-year-old mother now, pretty much all of the time outside of my job. I squeeze in writing, music practice, and lutherie whenever the opportunity arises, but it is usually just a few minutes each day. Even doing this blog, which I commit to once per week, has to be planned out by getting up earlier than usual. My laptop is always open because, if mom decides to nap for a few minutes, I can run over and type a sentence or two.
Lessons: I thought about getting lessons from a live teacher, but COVID killed that idea a year ago, and now that the possibility exists again, my schedule will not allow for me to drive somewhere else for the help. So I resort to my instruction books and videos, but there is not that extra care that comes from a live teacher. Moreover, a lot of the videos on YouTube lack motivation. You do a search for a certain technique, say, learning the Georgia Shuffle. So you find a dozen videos, but it seems that most of them are 10 minutes long with 7 minutes of rambling talk and 3 minutes of playing without any pausing for slow learners. Oh, there are some good videos, but slushing through all of the garbage becomes defeatist.
So I am pretty much accepting that I may not be able to play much with a band, do solos, or even learn tunes that I want. I will keep doing the few minutes every day, with the hope that things will change in my life for the better.
Last week, comedian Norm McDonald passed away form cancer complications at the age of 61. The man had the most dry sense of humor I have ever witnessed from a comedian. I remember his time at Saturday Night Live, although I did not watch it that much at the time. SNL hired in comic actors for their writing capabilites, ability to impersonate famous people, and of course, ad-libbing. Norm was stuck on the show doing impersonations of Bob Dole and Burt Reynolds, but his forte was anchoring the Weekend Update News skits. He could deliver fake news and truly make you believe it while you were laughing your head off. They kicked him off the show because he let it all out. He was a comedian’s comedian. His laid-back way of telling jokes was like a good friend telling a great story. There was no obnoxious, in-your-face delivery. He just stated the schtick in a matter-of-fact way that was perfect. You sat for a second wondering if he was serious about what he just said, then he would move on and you would finally get the joke. He never lamented on his cancer, and went on with his comic lifestyle as if nothing was wrong. More people should be so humble. Norm, your sense of humor will be missed, especially during these divisive times.
Chew on it and comment.