It’s been a while since I’ve been around these parts of the internet! WOW! What a freakin’ four months it’s been! So the good news is that - AHHH! I flippin’ LOVE school and ended up getting mostly all A’s! (I wish it were ALL A’s, but I think there was a little adjusting happening so it’s my goal for the spring!) My proficiency exam went really well! I wasn’t nervous until maybe fifteen minutes beforehand, because I try to not stress about these kind of things. I get more nervous for private lessons with fiddling GODs. Ah! Speaking of which, my fiddling has improved to the point to where I can pick up a tune more easily and use the techniques that I’ve started to cultivate. I’ll use a fill I learned from one tune and apply it to the different one. I’ll trill this note and slide on that one. I’m starting to really get the feel and swing of bluegrass and fiddling music, but, oh boy, do I have so much to learn! That list is far longer...
My professors and private instructors… I don’t even know where to start. I could go on and on for my love for my private instructors, and I literally learn more and more from them every time I have a lesson. The teaching and the type of music I’m studying is all new and has been a huge adjustment for me. With fiddling music, there’s no set repertoire; whereas in the classical world you have etudes, scales, concertos, suites, and sonatas to study and review. My teachers who are bluegrass, old time, and jazz fiddling masters, are all creating these repertoires from scratch. They’re using the all the tricks they figured out when they were learning. They decide which scales and modes to focus on, and what tunes are overall encompassing different fiddling techniques. Something I really had to adjust to was how lessons actual go. Rather than my private instructor kickin’ back and critiquing everything I do, he plays with me and jams. (This is serious jammin’ music y’all. Or pickin’ as they call it in Nashville.) I mean, it’s so cool that I can to freakin’ jam out with my instructors, y’all! Still to this day I’ll lose my place in a tune during a lesson, because I’ll be so mesmerized by what my teacher is playing to back me up. (But I think I’m getting better and better at it as time goes by.) I can honestly say that I am working with some of the best in the country, if not the world. I’m making these life-long connections with not only incredible musicians, but incredible human-beings as well. The fiddling community is the complete opposite of common classical-music culture. (This is from my experiences with the classical world, and mine only.) And I love that! That’s why I fell in love with it in the first place. People are so supportive of each other, and everyone is cheering on everyone else. It’s a gentle community full of folks who are kind-hearted and super passionate about the same thing. It’s FUN! People are having real, live fun when they’re playing this music. It’s so lovely, and I feel so much joy while I’m playing now!
School is a whole new experience as an adult who’s already had a career in a different field. I approach it with much more aggressiveness and much less fear. If I have an idea or a question, I say it out loud without hesitation. If I need extra help, I get extra help. I spent every Wednesday in my music theory professor’s office during his office hours, because I knew that if I really wanted to get a good grasp on this material I would need to work that much harder. I not only see my professors and instructors as the wise whom I look up to, but also my peers and fellow human-beings. I know that they see me as somewhat equal because of my life-experience in comparison to the majority of their other students. But this doesn’t carry out to all areas of school and work. There are definitely times in my week that I’m a good ole work study paid at minimum wage. I TOTALLY miss not having to worry about money as much. (And in hindsight, I’m learning a lot about how I use money and the mistakes that I've made when I actually had it.) But basically, what I’m sayin there is that going back to school as an adult is the best thing I ever did for myself, because I’m getting WAY more out of it.
I feel incredibly blessed to have this opportunity. I thought that it would potentially wear off by the end of my first semester, but no, that’s not the case. When I’m sitting in the coffee shop on campus working on something or when I’m in a practice room bangin’ shit out, I feel blessed. God has had this in His plan for me all along, I can truly believe that and really had no idea up until about a year ago what. (Actually, it was more like the first week of orientation that I 100% knew that I was supposed to be there at Berklee studying the fiddle.) I thought I would be sitting in a office for the rest of my life with music on the back burner forever. But I hit my rediscovery of music curveball right out of the park and am now in a vast ocean of opportunity. I don’t have to be jealous anymore of all the musicians out there, which is something that I often felt. I AM one of them once again and at the rate my playing is improving and with the connections I’m making, I have confidence that I have a bright career ahead of me. I have grabbed my identity back and I’m proud to officially be able to call myself a “fiddler" and not a “violinist" anymore.