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Playing falls apart in certain situations
Hoping for some coaching
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skelligmichael
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October 27, 2021 - 2:21 pm
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So when I practice (old times and Celtic) fiddle tunes, I have my mutes on and can sound pretty good.  I can do pretty fast and play confidently.  WhenI get to my session, mutes come off and I am nervous in front of other accomplished fiddlers.   Here are some outcomes:

squeaky and scratchy sounds on the unmuted strings 

bow hitting the bridge or side of violin

feels like the difference between hitting golf balls well at the driving range and falling apart when you go to the course and play with others.   

suggestions?

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JohnG
Greater Chicagoland
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October 27, 2021 - 2:30 pm
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Sounds like nerves. A couple of suggestions, see if you can get together with only one or two encouraging folks and not only play, but talk about anything musical (tone/technique/stage fright, etc.). Attend session without playing to get familiar with the interactions of others, both musical and personal. 

I am not a session participant, nor do I play my viola with others, but I have had to deal with large and sometimes antagonistic groups of people. Take this advice with a grain of salt, and I hope you become comfortable with your playing.

The old curmudgeon!

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skelligmichael
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October 27, 2021 - 2:35 pm
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Thanks.   Do you think practicing without the mutes is a good idea?   Sometimes the louder volume surprises me, and then of course you can more clearly hear the mistakes of bowing technique.  Catches me off guard in the sessions.   If I put the mutes on, then I can’t hear myself among the other players.  It’s a catch 22: don’t want to disturb the neighbors or the other household members.  

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JohnG
Greater Chicagoland
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October 27, 2021 - 2:43 pm
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It might help and using a mute during a few sessions might help too, even if you can't hear yourself. It might give you the confidence to concentrate on rhythm and technique. A lot of this is contingent on the support of your fellow session participants. Have you talked with them about your problems and what they might suggest to help you out?

The old curmudgeon!

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ABitRusty
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October 27, 2021 - 3:10 pm
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Would it be a problem for the other people at the session for you to leave the mute on?  I know every session will be different due to different people but I dont think it would be a problem where Im able to go.

I have the same problem...I practice a tune..get to the session nerves hit and one sour note or timing miss and Itll mess up evrything.   One thing that has helped this year was to stop trying to learn everything.  pick a handful of tunes...for discussion sake say 5...  make sure its ones that THAT session plays alot.. and learn them well enough to not think about it when you play.  when time comes to play those youll be more confident to play louder and youll be able to hear easier which helps stay in tune and keep rhythm.  Of course playing along with a recording of THAT session helps tremendously.. Its a common suggestion so ignore if you already do that..just thinking of different things that have helped me.

another thing is to arrive early and try to meet differwnt people one on one and just chat if youre not already.  Getting to know who is who and get on a first name basis makes it more like playing with friends instead of the great fiddlers at the session.  Ask them how they got rid of nerves.. 

hope that helps some and theres something new to try.

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ELCBK
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October 27, 2021 - 3:22 pm
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@skelligmichael -

Sorry, I've just always felt it's a really bad idea to get used to practicing with a mute. 🎃

Do you video record yourself much with NO mute? 

Many of us have had problems being nervous just to do that!  We have a place to just share your playing, one for critiques and our Party Room is great for encouragement - the more you record yourself the easier/better it gets.  The same is true for playing live. 

https://i.pinimg.com/736x/d4/c6/28/d4c628e64168de3e18e2f663a50b998c.jpg

 

 

- Emily

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stringy
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October 27, 2021 - 3:52 pm
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A good way to get into playing along with other people is if you start a tune and play it for a minute or so then let the others join in, they will essentially be backing you but its a good way to get a feel for playing along with others, if the people you are playing the session with are good people they will understand and help you out in this way,. Nerves vanish  the more confidence you get. If you freeze just stop playing for a minute or two, people drop in and out all the time, when you join back in play softly till you get the rythm, if you are new to it the people you play with will understand, they had the same problem. you could also ask them to play a tune that you know slowly so you can play along and once you get into the way they play you will slide in. Guitar is the easiest instrument to use in a session.

By the way I really wish I didnt have to use a mute, everyone on here knows my problem in that area.

I have noticed after using it for a few days when I play without it my bowing for some reason goes all over the place.

Bit more, bit more, snap #*÷?×?@?#?@

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ABitRusty
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October 27, 2021 - 7:48 pm
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@stringy said. "Guitar is the easiest instrument to use in a session."

Are you speaking of playing chords or melody?  I think easiest may depend.  melody for sure if youve become pretty good at flatpicking fiddle tunes, but then from a wanting to learn fiddle it sorta slows your progress if taking guitar for a melody instrument.  I think a mandolin would be a far better choice there if wanting a break from fiddle since its fingering lays out the same. 

as far as chord playing goes Im not sure multiple chordal instrumements are always welcomed.  I know ours only allows one because theres never a set chord structure unlike say at an old time jam where there may be more guitars than fiddles.. Obviously talking about one session vs tens of thousands worldwide but i think that rule/etiquette is pretty common.  from what ive seen the guitar players have spent as much time perfecting their chord choices and ryhthm as we have playing melody. Not really cowboy chorders so to speak.  Just wasnt sure which one you were talking about.

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stringy
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October 28, 2021 - 2:20 am
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On guitar either chord or melody, doesn't make any difference to me as I am a guitar player, and singer, under no illusions hopeless on the fiddle, prob always will be, but I like a challenge, mind you I havent played with anyone at all fir the past rwo years, very frustrating. the original poster says he is new to sessions with a fiddle but plays guitar so For him guitar prob be easier. Only played in sessions a couple times with fiddle  that was shortly after i first picked it up, but hundreds with guitar or banjo, not used mando in sessions but out of the two other instruments for me guitar is by far the easiest, saying that though if you are new to guitar it could be harder, I have been playing guitar though for at least forty years so to me I don't even need to think about it have to start with guitar again actually as fiddle has took up all my time for too long,

My idea of guitar is mot to replace his fiddle but to give him a feel of playing along.

Bit more, bit more, snap #*÷?×?@?#?@

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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
November 16, 2021 - 2:52 pm
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I agree that nerves seem to come to play in those situations. How is it when you play by yourself without the mute?
Yes to your question about practicing without a mute. However, perhaps the sound of your violin is harsh. That would explain your need for using the mute.
Next, there are varying differences between mutes. Which one are you using?

When you practice without a mute, try playing super softly as one of your exercises. Perhaps use the edge of the hair and bow lightly and away from the bridge.

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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