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The Old Guy Re-Entering the String World
A personal view of the start of a journey into music and the viola.
Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 (263 votes) 
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ELCBK
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January 24, 2022 - 3:53 am
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@JohnG - 

GREAT job playing "La Danse de Mardi Gras"! 

 

My Father was very much into trains! 

I remember he had a fabulous set of the really large scale - furious he sold it when I was still a kid, told me he regretted it later.

I was always in awe of the HUGE old engines in the Henry Ford Museum!  And, when little, I remember my Father lifted me up in the Engine to ride a small stretch with the Engineer of a train that ran through the small town of Remus (mid-state), near my Grandparents Summer cottage.  Wish I could find a similar experience for my Grandkids, something other than a 'dinner-train'. 

Thanks for giving me the idea to look! 😊

We had a large train table in our basement when I was growing up, but my favorite (I still have) was one set I had under my bed that ran around a metal sweater-chest... in the dark.  It has a little light bulb on the front of the engine, so I could see the light appearing from behind the chest - it was magical! 🤗

Such fond memories of the J.L. Hudson Building's 'toy floor' train displays, in Detroit!  Killed me when it closed. 😞 

Lionel Trains had a manufacturing building just a few miles north of us, here - thought I heard it closed... I'll have to check.

Thanks for all your sharing! 

I'm still playing around with "La Danse de Mardi Gras" - a fun tune with lot's of ways to add a little Cajun 'flare'.  There's some tips for adding some double stops and a suggested key change by Craig Duncan that I posted in the Cajun thread. 

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JohnG
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January 24, 2022 - 10:21 pm
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@ELCBK - Thanks! I have had trains since my dad bought me (?) an American Flyer S gauge train in about 1946. This layout dates back about 15-20 years in various forms. So many interests, so little time.

Tonight's practice was atrocious. It was 40 minutes of my current, usual list of tunes and I couldn't hit notes, the bow skittered, and I couldn't keep the viola up in position! Other than that, it was fine! 😡

The old curmudgeon!

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JohnG
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January 25, 2022 - 10:26 pm
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Much better practice tonight! A full hour of the current, usual fare, plus, thanks to @ELCBK, a simple version of House of the Rising Sun. Everything seemed to work better, even instrument holding. 

The old curmudgeon!

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ELCBK
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January 26, 2022 - 6:03 am
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That one was such a HUGE list - wish I would've found it 2 years ago! 🙄

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JohnG
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January 27, 2022 - 12:11 am
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Only half an hour tonight, playing the same tunes. Been working on my computer most of the day. Trying out a new IDE (Integrated Development Environment) which allows me to program Arduino microprocessors which, in turn, I will be using on my train layout to control turnouts (switches). I'm not a great programmer in this environment and the IDE is different than the previous version, so it's been a long day. 

The actual practice session was okay, no real problems or breakthroughs and I really didn't want to break my unbroken string of practices.

The old curmudgeon!

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JohnG
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January 27, 2022 - 11:44 pm
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Again, only half an hour, restricted tunes to House of the Rising Sun (quick run through), concentrated on La Danse de Mardi Gras with improv, Blackest Crow, and a little Amazing Grace with improv and Simple Gifts. Not a long practice, but good and enjoyable.

The old curmudgeon!

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Mouse
January 28, 2022 - 9:28 am
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I love House of the Rising Sun!

The Bumblebee Flies!

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JohnG
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January 28, 2022 - 10:10 pm
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So, a little different tonight. Decided to mix it up a bit by playing some of my older tunes for a total of about 40 minutes. Fiddlers Green, Ashokan Farewell, Sound of Silence, Scarborough Fair, Skye Boat Song, Song from a Secret Garden, and Simple Gifts. Was a welcome change from my usual fare, for tonight, anyway.

While playing I noticed what sounded like a lower frequency harmonic when playing C on the A string! Stopped playing and banged the end of the viola gently with the heel of my hand and heard a rattle! Took off the shoulder rest and chin rest to no avail. Still heard it. Took off the tuner and that was it. The display head was apparently lightly touching the scroll and at certain frequencies would vibrate. Problem solved.

As long as the chin rest was off, I decided to put the original one back on to try it, now that I'm more used to playing. I've opted to leave it on as the viola seems to be more secure in my grasp than with the newer one. We'll see how this goes!

The old curmudgeon!

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Mouse
January 28, 2022 - 10:15 pm
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I am glad you solved your rattle issue.

The Bumblebee Flies!

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JohnG
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January 29, 2022 - 11:28 pm
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@Mouse - Thanks, me too!

Tonight, back to part of the usual list for half an hour. Spent most of the time on La danse and Dark Island, some St. James Infirmary, and Amazing Grace plus the usual finale, Simple Gifts.

I'm still liking the original chin rest and don't know why I ever got a new one, other than my desire to improve without effort! lol

The old curmudgeon!

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JohnG
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January 30, 2022 - 10:48 pm
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Half hour again, tonight. Most time on La danse and Dark Island, a little St James, and the usual Simple Gifts for a finale.

The old curmudgeon!

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JohnG
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February 1, 2022 - 5:49 pm
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I missed posting yesterday's practice session of another half hour. La danse de Mardi Gras Cmaj, St. James Infirmary, Dark Island Cmaj, Amazing Grace w/Improv, and Simple Gifts.

The old curmudgeon!

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JohnG
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February 1, 2022 - 10:44 pm
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Another half hour tonight, playing the same as last night, but added Blackest Crow back into the mix. Tonight's session actually felt pretty good. It seemed that I was getting a little better tone and ease of bowing than in previous nights. Limiting the repertoire seems to have helped my learning a little more. I know if I were to actually practice the etudes and technique improving exercises, I would probably learn more, but it's more fun this way. And at my age in particular, that is what is important. 

The old curmudgeon!

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JohnG
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February 2, 2022 - 9:12 pm
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So, a forty minute practice tonight. Added a quick run through of a version of Misty Mountain Cold that @ELCBK (Emily) found. Otherwise, the same repertoire as last night, but tried Dark Island with the backing track that I created, which resulted in a LOT of errors, both in intonation and timing. One of these days I have to learn how to do this type of thing with backing tracks and click tracks or I will never be able to participate in a group project.

The old curmudgeon!

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Mouse
February 3, 2022 - 11:04 am
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Still loving your blog, JohnG. It is very encouraging. 

The Bumblebee Flies!

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JohnG
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February 3, 2022 - 10:44 pm
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@Mouse - Thanks, boring at the moment, but the repetition is necessary!

Another half hour tonight with same tunes as last night. Some is getting better, some are staying the same. Someday...

Oh well, I never expected it to be easy or fast. Good thing! lol

The old curmudgeon!

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JohnG
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February 4, 2022 - 11:34 pm
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Forty minutes tonight after only planning on thirty. Really enjoyed practicing for some reason! Same set of tunes plus some general improvisation, including Wayfaring Stranger without the music. 

I keep eying the clearance section at FiddlerShop for B-Stock Apprentice or even the B-Stock Concert Viola Outfit even though I can't really justify or afford one at the moment. But one can dream. I've been thinking about going to a local shop and just window shop and possibly try equivalent violas just to see if a well set up, better viola would make any difference to my playing.

Edited: Just remembered that I checked and tonight made the 38th straight day of practice. Wonder how long I can keep it up!

The old curmudgeon!

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JohnG
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February 5, 2022 - 10:50 pm
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Thirty more minutes of the same tunes. Waited until late so not as fresh as I would prefer, but still a decent practice session. Hopefully this will eventually get me to a decent place with La danse and Dark Island.

The old curmudgeon!

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stringy
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February 6, 2022 - 3:19 pm
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Well done on sticking at it John, I quite 0ften felt like packing it in at first, lol

I think everyone always wants a better instrument, its like an addiction, I can understand how people get into collectng..

Bit more, bit more, snap #*÷?×[email protected]?#[email protected]

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JohnG
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February 6, 2022 - 10:33 pm
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@stringy - Thanks, that's one of the reasons I've decided to strive for a long streak. I know I have an inexpensive instrument with not the greatest reputation. I chose it because it was cheap (relatively speaking) and didn't know if I would pursue this dream on a long enough basis to warrant a better instrument. I think, now, I'm in it for the long haul. Still can't justify or spare the expense at this time, but I can dream.

Tonight was day 40 in consecutive days and I celebrated with a 40 minute practice session playing all the usual suspects! Tried a little improv on Simple Gifts in addition that on other tunes. It's FUN!!!

The old curmudgeon!

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