The Good Things in Life > Random acts of kindness and grace

Rhythm help from across the Ocean

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Are you interested in learning strictly classical violin, or fiddling? I suspect the latter since you mentioned "Wabash Cannonball." In either case you can probably find a teacher who's a better fit. S/he might not necessarily have a "teacher" shingle hung out. I know lots of good fiddlers who are always willing to help beginners and answer their questions, and they won't get all touchy about it. If you offered to pay them actual money for lessons, they'd be thrilled to work with you.

If you're going the classical route, do you live anywhere near a college or university? You could go to their music department, post a notice that you're looking for violin lessons and find a student who plays violin and could teach you the basics. Starving students always welcome income opportunities.

BTW, I don't know about "Wabash Cannonball" or "Mrs. MacLeod's Reel," but I do know that Pachelbel's Canon in D and Blondie's "The Tide Is High" are well-nigh identical!

I'm glad you've found some help, but please, find another teacher. This one is not the right one for you. He may be a brilliant musician, or even a brilliant teacher, but he's not teaching you. His teaching style (dogmatic, teacher is always right) and your learning style (ask questions, need more than rote "do this") are completely out of synch.

Learning music should be a joy not an exercise in misery.

I'll try to answer the question you asked, but didn't get an answer to. Music, especially traditional music, is highly variable. I recommend listening to the same tune played by different musicians -- even by the same musician on different occasions. You'll still recognize the tune, but it won't be note-for-note identical to any other performance.

Key -- a melody is relative to its key. We can change the key without changing the melody. Whether you hear Wabash Cannonball in G or D, you'll still easily recognize the tune. We change keys for a lot of reasons. Sometimes it's forced by the instrument. If all I have is my D penny whistle, then G, D and C (and the relative minors) are about all I can handle. We change keys for singers a lot. We can change from major to minor (or the other way) to change the mood of a piece.

We can change the notes and rhythm as well while still making the tune recognizable. It's amazing how flexible the human ear (mind, really) can be. We're programmed to find patterns and patterns we will find. There's no firm line that says "you've changed 22.7% of the notes, so it's now a different tune."  One alteration that you find in just about every traditional musical performance is adding or subtracting ornamentation. Grace notes, turns, trills are all alterations that leave the tune itself almost untouched. Listen to a traditional fiddler play a tune and hear the variations from one repetition to another.

Although classical music tends to be more rigid in performance, in part because it works from written music rather than by ear, you still get alterations to a melody that still leave it recognizable. Try Mozart's "Twelve Variations on Vous dirai-je, Maman" K. 265/300e. He takes a very familiar tune and puts it through many variations. This includes adding notes and ornamentation as well as changing the key from major to minor. You'll still recognize the tune.

A more humorous example would be Tom Lehrer's version of Clementine.

Thank you all for the advice. I have been looking for a different teacher for 3 years. I have advertised at the local music school, and have had the posters taken down and been told by the professors "We do not encourage our students to teach as it takes away from their studies." There are few folks here who want to deal with adults, unfortunately. So now I am looking into skype lessons from who knows the style I want to learn, but I am not having much luck there.

Baglady asked "Are you interested in learning strictly classical violin, or fiddling?" I am trying to learn A Cape Breton Standard piece called "Tullochgorum with Variations" by J.S. Skinner you can see it here or listen to it  my other goal piece is Beethoven's 9th. ( yeah, I am weird) so I guess I am trying to learn both classical violin and Cape Breton style fiddling.

That...looks difficult.  Beethoven's 9th is difficult too (I've played it but not very well!)

I was practicing a much easier piece tonight but I'm bookmarking that Tullochgorum and will attempt.  The rhythm does look tricky!  Plus, I will undoubtedly play it about 1/10 the speed it is supposed to be!

Good luck with the teacher and I'm glad someone is helping you--that is awesome!

I can't find a version by the man who inspired me to learn to play fiddle ( Kyle MacNeil of the Barra MacNeils ) but Natalie MacMaster's is a close second for how it's supposed to be played


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