Meet “Fiddlestix” from Fiddlerman’s “Fiddle Talk” forum

Kenneth (Fiddlestix) is the happy guy on the far top right

• Please begin by telling us anything you would like to about yourself. Age, place of birth, residence, etc.
Hi, everyone. My name’s Kenneth / Ken Johnson, I’m soon to be 69 years old, was born in Highland Park, Michigan, grew up in Royal Oak, Michigan and now reside in Davisburg, Michigan, about 40 or so miles north of Detroit. I’m a retired Union carpenter for the past three years and absolutely  bored. I spend a great deal of time reading posts now and working in the yard. I have 2 children / adults. My son will be 49 yrs old June 16th and my daughter just turned 43 yesterday, May 8th. I have 4 grandchildren, 2 girls by my  son and 2 boys by my daughter. My son in-law is a Michigan State Trooper and also in the U.S. Army and is presently stationed in Afghanistan, his second tour there. My daughter owns a beauty salon in Frankenmuth, Michigan and my son is a carpenter contractor.

• What made you decide to play the violin?  I have always loved violin and when I found “Fiddlerman’s” website, I became interested again.

• How long have you been playing the violin?
I began playing at age 4 and played until I was 10 when my mother could no longer afford lessons or rental for my instrument. Lessons were $1.00 per week and the rental was like $5.00 per month, I’m not sure, maybe even less, but we didn’t have a lot of money in those days, my real father died before I was born so it was just her and I…. Oh, and my Grandfather. There has always been a violin at my disposal, but I would pick it up now and then and put it away for years before trying again. I have attached a picture with some of my fellow players. I’m in the back row to the far right, the boy to the far left was the son of my school orchestra teacher, he went on to play in some symphony orchestra, I’m not sure where though, Chicago comes to my head.

• How often do you play?

How long are your practice sessions?  Since I’ve hooked up with “Fiddlerman’s” website I play everyday and my practice session’s can last anywhere from one hour to 10 or 12 hours, like I said, I don’t have much else to do. It’s always with me, I played last night while watching the ball game.

• In your opinion, what’s your proficiency on the violin?
Very tough question, I’m a beginner with 50 some years of experienced dabbling.  Make sense?

• Your greatest personal experience with playing?
This is not a great experience, but when I was around 10 years old, I was playing solo in a recital, standing on stage (alone) when all of a sudden my A-string snapped. Now what do I do? I just kept on playing and skipped the notes that involved the A-string and finished the song. Mind you, there weren’t a lot of notes requiring the A-string. I got a lot of applause for that.

• What other instruments do you play?  When I stopped playing violin, I bought a mail order guitar for $7.00 from selling flower seeds door to door and taught myself to play. I also play piano, organ (real organ, no electronics).

• What does music mean to you?
I love music, all types however, rap and hard rock are out though. I prefer country, I’ve played guitar and sang in several bands, including singing at “Tootsie’s” in Nashville, TN. That was only for one night though.

• What or who has been your greatest influence?
I would have to say it was my mother, she taught me a bunch, how to play baseball, football, golf and how to fish. When I was young, her and I would do the dinner dishes, she would wash, I would dry and we would sing songs together. That was a great period in my life.

• What made you decide to play the violin?

I have always loved violin and when I found “Fiddlerman’s” website, I became interested again.

• How long have you been playing the violin?
I began playing at age 4 and played until I was 10 when my mother could no longer afford lessons or rental for my instrument. Short and long.  Short term goals are just being able to play proficiently, long term? I’m 68, remember ?

• What type of violin training?
As I said earlier, I started when I was 4 up until I was 10, so there were constant lessons.

• How do you warm up?

Usually I warm up with fast fingering, doesn’t matter what note’s I play, I skip around the fingerboard working on changes. After that I play whatever comes in my head.

• What is your favorite type of music?
I prefer country, but have recently  been interested in classical, watching the Detroit Symphony Orchestra on webcast. I enjoy watching the reactions from the musicians while they play or are at rest.

• What is your favorite piece of music? Why?
I really don’t have one particular piece that I like over other’s, music is relaxing, so I guess you can say all music is my  favorite. I guess if I really had to choose one, it would the our National Anthem…. gives me goose bumps. I play that as well.

• What are your 2 favorite things to do other than playing violin?  I build model planes and helicopters now. My flying days are over since I sold my airplane several years ago. I was into skydiving for a few years, then my wife suggested I do something a little more on the safe side. She suggested scuba diving, can you imagine that?  Safe?  I know cdennyb will understand what I mean.

• Do you come from a musical family? If so please tell us about them. My grandfather came to America from Sweden in 1910, he played violin, two of my uncles also played and my stepfather played, In fact one of the violins I have now belonged to his grandfather. My mother also played violin and organ. When I was about 3 years I called the violin “bell bottom trousers”, I got that because my uncle would play  that song ” Bell Bottom trousers Coats of Navy Blue on his violin, hence I referred to the fiddle as bell bottom trousers.

• Are you a member of any orchestra?
Nah.

• Do you ever perform publicly?
Nah to that one too.

• What do you work with?
Like I said, I’m a retired carpenter, so no work.

• Would you please share with us information about your violin and bow and if you have several please tell us about them as well.
My primary violin is about 130 years old, it’s a “Caspar daSalo in Brescia 1530, copy. I have a second fiddle I bought online several years ago, $90.00 special. I have 4 bows. Mostly I use the Pernambuco bow which is original with the Caspar, violin, one glass bow, two other wood bows. I switch off and on to their different sounds.

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