Journal

 

dance and play 1 COMMENTS

Have you ever set a really outlandish goal for yourself?  Well I did. I decided this January that this would be the spring that I would learn to step dance and play fiddle at the same time! Specifically my goal was that by March, I would be able to play a tune and dance to it on stage, with dancers, for St. Patrick’s Day.

I knew it was possible. I knew it was something I was capable of doing, although it was was for sure a big stretch. The questions was, where to start?  I had no idea how to get there: no guide, no teacher, no handy instructional booklet. So, I just decided to go for it.  I thought by just trying it I would see where I was at.  It was a complete train wreck.  Feet and steps all over the place, my bow bouncing off the string and I found it incredibly hard to separate the actions.  So I broke everything down and started practicing both the steps and the tune separately until each was second nature, and then slowly, very very slowly putting bits of them together – piece by piece, measure by measure. My first breakthrough was when I started hearing and thinking of the steps as part of the music – as if my feet where playing a percussion part along with the tune. I am much more of a musician than a dancer so this made a big difference for me. Perhaps as I become more confident and natural with Irish dance I will be able to work it out the other way where the movement of my arms and fingers feels like a part of the dance.

 

I gradually built the two of them up together slowly, finding confidence very gradually, until it came time that I just had to try it on stage.  Doing something new on stage for the first time takes a lot of guts.  I say this not to praise my own moxie, but to answer all of those people who ask if I still get nervous on stage.  The answer is yes.  All the time.  But you learn to use your nerves as energy and focus instead of letting them boil over and consume you.  Nerves are a good thing and any performer will tell you that that hit of adrenaline is what keeps you pushing your show to new places. When you try something new, it never feels like you have prepared enough, you just have to go out there and hope and try. The first time I tried this over our St. Patrick’s Day tour, my stomach was all in knots, my palms were so sweaty I was afraid I might drop my violin. “Just don’t stop whatever happens,” I kept telling myself…and.. I did it. Not perfectly, but each time since I have performed it it continues to improve. It gets a little easier and I continue to get more comfortable.

I know I have a long way to go yet, and a lot more to work on.  But I am excited!  Excited to have something to work on and strive for even though it wrecks my head. Maybe someday it will feel easy! …maybe…haha

  • Daniel Baker

    You performed it just great on St Patricks Day here in Milwaukee. It was very impressive!