Sunday, August 15, 2010

Does Jami Play a Mean Fiddle?

I’ve always found it more frustrating to relearn something than to try something new.  You tend to have higher expectations when you were once good at something, and it can be downright depressing to discover how far you’ve regressed.

I’m reminded of that saying, “The mind is like a taco: the more you cram into it, the more will fall out.”  I studied Spanish for five years and can only remember a handful of useless phrases.  I majored in math and can’t solve a differential equation to save my life.

Although I’ve accepted that I can no longer speak Spanish or do complicated math, I’m still in denial about certain previous abilities.  Despite the fact that I haven’t played on a regular basis in over a decade, I still pretend to be a violinist.  At one point, I was fairly serious about it.  I played with the All-County Orchestra and was concertmistress of my high school orchestra.  I even won an award in high school for “Most Musical.”  But when I got to college, I gave up the violin in favor of partying.

Now, when I do take out my violin and attempt to play a piece from one of my old Suzuki books, I get frustrated and quit in a matter of minutes.  About a year ago, I decided to trick myself into relearning the violin by tackling a different style of music: Irish fiddling.  The inspiration for this idea came from a pub I used to frequent in New York called O’Neill’s.  Every Saturday and Sunday night, traditional Irish musicians gather around a table to drink beer and play amazing music.  Here’s a picture from one of their tune sessions:

Photo Courtesy of Jimmy O’Kelly

Every time I went to O’Neill’s, I would say – with drunken confidence – that I was going to play the fiddle in an Irish jam session one day.

When I moved to Austin, I actually found a pub that hosts intermediate Irish musicians on Sunday nights.  I went to check it out last weekend, and the bar patrons seemed more interested in the pre-season football game than the live music, but that’s probably a good thing – fewer people who would notice my mistakes.

So yesterday, I dusted off my violin and played “The Irish Washerwoman” a dozen times.  (I’m sure the neighbors love me.)  Now all I need is six months of dedicated practice to make my dream a reality.  I’m sure that’ll happen.  Yup.  Piece of cake.


  1. I was in the same boat with my guitar playing. Never practiced enough and always got frustrated so I would stop. I finally set aside a time to practice everyday. I still such but I'm better! Anyway, keep playing the violin.

  2. I played the piano for 10+ years and whenever I go home, I sit down at the baby grand and try to play a song I used to be able to play with my eyes closed. It's really depressing because I can barely remember how to read music! Is it Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge? Argh.