The Fiddler’s Pupil’s Tale

A response from one of the Fiddler’s pupils to the piece A Fiddler’s Tale that was printed in last month’s Voice

As one who had never been nearer to a violin than the front row at a Brodick Hall concert, it came as a surprise to me, at my first violin lesson, that I needed to make sure it was firmly tucked under my chin.

The urge to take up playing the instrument came unexpectedly and, being one for action, I soon found a teacher who was willing to take on a complete novice of my advanced years. She lent me a violin and persevered with my efforts to make it sound good. Oh the patience of a violin teacher!

And no, the violin is not just resting on your shoulder so you can hear it better, it needs to be firmly held so you can keep both hands free to do their bit.

And that’s another thing that came as a surprise. I rejected the idea of learning to play the piano because I didn’t relish having to do two different things with my hands at the same time. Have you ever tried to pat your head and rub your tummy in the Christmas parlour game? So surely the violin must be easier as you are only really using one hand aren’t you? The other one just pushes the bow up and down right!

How wrong can you be?
It turns out that the bowing is much more important than the fingering as it is that which produces the texture, emotion, dynamics and give the music its feeling. The fingering is important of course to produce the correct notes in the correct order. Slightly off centre and you could be playing some ultra modern composition of your own, full of quarter tones and other odd noises, satisfying in itself but not always desirable for the listener.

So back to the Fiddler who is teaching and passing on her years of experience and wisdom to the Pupil who has years of lost time to catch up on. Between us we have explored scales both major and minor. We have played reels, strathspeys, laments, Irish and Welsh folk tunes, Schumann, Offenbach and home grown compositions, sometimes together on violins and sometimes with piano accompaniment.

And now I can look forward to the prospect of meeting other string players, previously only seen on Zoom, playing together so that I can feel the joy of making music with others and for others, Unbelievable, and all thanks to the Fiddler.