Any classical crossovers here?

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    • #27422

      I play classical and have been in various orchestras, chamber groups, etc. I was also an avid listener of the “Thistle and the Shamrock” on NPR for many years and love listening to a variety of “celtic” music. What I’m wondering…

      Honestly I don’t know if it’s possible to truly “cross over” and become a somewhat decent fiddler.
      One thing I struggle with is impatience…instead of learning phrases by ear, I get the itch to just dig up the sheet music and sightread! Or sometimes I listen to a tune and am jotting down notes as I listen (cheating!)

      Just wondering if anybody is struggling to cross over, and if it’s possible to play both at once (like, Bach one day and Irish tunes the next!) and flip between style/tone!

    • #27423
      Lisa Harper

      Do you ever listen to Rachel Barton Pine? She seems to be amazingly versatile — even dipping into metallica, I think. Really great question and I’m also interested in hearing perspectives. I got interested in Mark O’Connor and learning about his teaching methods for this very reason. I wish there were courses offered online versus singleton instructors in this space. Honestly, I’ve started shifting away from fiddle towards Mandolin simply because it seems easier to bridge classical with other traditions. Or maybe for other less consciously understood reasons. Love to hear what you learn!

    • #27424

      Hi thisite13

      For me, the answer is yes, you can play both classical and Irish, bluegrass …etc. If you have been trained as a classical violinist, you bring much to the table. You will be able to do things other fiddle players could only dream of. Just use what you have learned.

      From my prospective if you have not learned tunes by ear, it just takes time and patience. Being that you probably read sheet music. I feel it is Ok to learn a tune using sheet music, but once you have it in your head a little. You really need to listen to how the tune is played, (its style, its feel, its rhythm). This is no different than learning a classical piece of music. (bar by bar, phase by phase)

      You can learn a lot from the teachers on this site. So have an open mind and don’t be so hard on yourself. Go for it, and have fun!

      Kind Regards,
      Rob Hanson

    • #27425

      Thanks Lisa! I’m going to check out the people you mentioned! 🙂

      Yea, I know what you mean about how it’s easier to play folk on another instrument instead of the one you trained in…
      Like, I can copy the phrase out of the video nicely when following along, but then two days later when I play the tune myself from memory, then it’s back to sounding like classical again. Ugh!

      One thing I’m working on is getting the “beat” into the tune, and being a little freer with the bow…that’s about all I figured out for now.

    • #27426

      Thank you for the encouragement, Rob!

      On sheet music – I totally agree! I’ve got a book of fiddle tunes but they are never charming when just played straight from the page. When you hear them played, is when they really come alive.

      On having fun – thanks, was excited to find this site! I live in a small town where the nearest Session is a long drive away (and, shut down due to the pandemic) so glad to be able to still learn and fiddle around. 🙂

    • #27430

      You seem to already know the notes and intervals, so my suggestion is to listen to the different styles of playing for getting cadence and rhythm. Each trad musician has her/his own style and well and being immersed in a particular genre.

      Even for non-trad music, like ska or reggae or rock or swing, still listen and note the rhythm and how it is being kept.

      Finally, don’t underestimate yourself. One of the best classicist musicians I know is also one the the best trad musicians I know. Some people (where I live in the USA) say he doesn’t play in the true Irish style. But guess what. I was once with him in a pub in County Donegal and the other pub musicians knew him and called on him to play some tunes. And these hardcore Irish were delighted by his playing. Plus he can pick up Cape Breton by ear easily, too. Of course, he is especially gifted, but his example always inspires me, even if I can never approach him in talent. But the talent is not the point; it is his love of trad music (and all music, really) and desire for everybody to have fun that are the inspirations.

      Good luck! If you practice and listen, you will start to pick things up by ear more easily. And as far as transcribed tunes, they are useful as guides, but take them with a grain of salt.

    • #27593

      Thank you all, for your kind encouragement.

      Funny because, for us classicals, the transcribed notes are gospel that we do not dare to alter. ( Or, if we alter it, it’s with a lot of deep discussion of history and what the composer intended. 🙂 I’m going to have to figure out have to loosen up my mindset!

      In the past few years I also dared to go to a few sessions at a pub, and everybody was really kind and welcoming, they were like “Come back next time!” There was a classical cello player there, playing the “box”, and he was great.

      Hmm, so I guess the obstacle is all in my OWN mind.
      So I guess I’m going to put aside my doubts and just…play?! 🙂

      • This reply was modified 1 month, 1 week ago by thistle13.
      • #27601
        Casey Willis

        Hi, Thistle. Good stuff. You won’t regret learning to play by ear. You’ll always have the ability to read sheet music, and that’s an entirely separate, valuable skill. But you’ll be amazed at what happens when you start listening and creating music with people around you who are doing the same thing. Don’t be afraid to listen to what your head is playing. Then play that.

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