How did you pick your instrument?

How did you pick your instrument?

As an attempt to try to create an interesting positive discussion: how did you pick the instrument that you wound up playing?

My story is a bit twisted, but here goes:

I started out as a classical clarinetist. Once I got out of school, and started looking for someplace to play, I rapidly discovered that no one wanted another mediocre clarinetist.

Around that time, a college friend who was into folk dance dragged my wife and me to a folk festival. My wife was hooked by the dancing, but the music grabbed me. But the clarinet is a dreadful instrument for traditional celtic music.

After seeing a demo, I decided to take up the banjo (5 string). I love the sound of it, and there were very few banjo players around, so I thought I’d be able to avoid the “too many clarinetists” syndrome.

The banjo never came naturally. 5-string isn’t really suited to the music (although there are a few people who really make it work well). But more important, I was never really able to wrap my brain around the stringed instrument. I took lessons from wonderful teachers, but wasn’t getting much of anywhere. Finally, some RSI problems convinced me to give up. (Try to play the banjo if you can’t feel with the tip of your left pinky.)

Fortunately, two years ago, I went to a tinwhistle class on a lark, and fell in love with the thing. I’ve been playing obsessively ever since. As a woodwind player, it came very naturally, and it just felt, musically, like coming home.

About a month ago, I decided I needed to add something a bit quieter, so that I wouldn’t keep waking my daughter with my practicing. I also wanted a bit more versatility - more control of volume, and timbre, and the ability to switch keys without switching instruments. So I started learning the flute.

Now allI need to do is come up with the money to buy something better than my Dixon polymer flute…

Re: How did you pick your instrument?

I just received my first Irish flute yesterday, the inexpensive Tony Dixon two piece polymer pipe one - not the more expensive turned-from-solid-polymer one. I got it from Harp and Dragon from their web site. I also wanted an inexpensive starting place to transition from pennywhistle to Irish flute. I played whistle in a New England contradance band for a few years, but now I live in New York City and I’ve decided to learn the ITM repertoire and style so I can play nicely with others. Wow, this flute is awesome! the first octave is so smooth and voluptuous and the second octave is sweet and easy. It’s like having a new girlfriend with big … well, it’s very sensual. I’m in love. But my fingers need yoga lessons to learn how to stretch and relax at the same time.
-Dave

Posted by .

Re: How did you pick your instrument?

I have played trumpet and (so-called French) horn since jr. high school (about 30 years now). I still play horn in a brass quintet. I was fascinated with the idea of concertinas since reading about then in 1980 or so, but as a student I thought I was too poor to buy one then. Turns out that was when they were much cheaper than now! I got my first garage sale instrument in 1992. A few years later I finally got real instruction, from an Irish teacher. I’m still playing and learning.

Posted by .

Re: How did you pick your instrument?

a new girlfriend with a big heart is what I’m sure you meant to say, dave 🙂. I started with the fiddle because of a bit of violin lessons as a wee childlet. Which, in retrospect, was maybe not such a good idea, it is amazing how much you forget after over 30 years away! I just started the flute, and it is the fault of all the wonderful, enthusiastic flute players on at thesession.org (and their pointers to those wooden flute obession cds). I love it, and I love my M&E flute. Playing the flute *is* very sensual, much more than the fiddle - at least it seems so to me. Doesn’t mean I’ll be giving up the fiddle anytime soon, though.
Sos

Re: How did you pick your instrument?

Who picked who?

When I was twenty six, for the first time ever, my grandad took me up to his secret retreat, his smoking room in the loft, & on the wall, I could just make out, through the thick Pipe reek, an old Fiddle hanging on the wall. It had been his fathers Fiddle, & although he was really a Piper, he could still knock a tune or two out of it, which he did that day before handing it to me & saying -“You can keep that, as you seem to be the only member of the family who shows any interest in music.

I’d been playing away at a Mandolin & Tenor Banjo for about a year before that, & to tell the truth, didn’t really care that much for the sound of the Fiddle, thinking it a bit scratchy & rough on the ear. However, I vowed that day, when he handed me this treasured heirloom, blackened with years of nicotine abuse, that I would not just hang it on the wall, but after first cleaning it, I would learn to play, at least a few tunes.

The Fiddle is now my preferred instrument, & although I really enjoy playing all my other instruments, If I could have only one, it would have to be a Fiddle, no contest. Can you ever imagine Irish Music without a Fiddle?

So, I’m afraid my instrument picked me!

Re: How did you pick your instrument?

It feels like i’ve been playing flute forever, but my first instrument and passion were the classical guitar. Thing is, my little brother could always (and still can) play circles around me, so i was forced to switch to something else. I did a brief stint at the organ but wanted something more portable. Someone suggested the flute, and i never looked back.

I have all sorts of bamboo flutes, ethnic flutes, Baroque, and now Irish. I have a few very good flutes, but nothing really expensive. My main Irish ax is the M&E PVC (aka Darth Vader’s flute), and my real wood flute by Eamonn Cotter should be arriving in a week or so. I also collected a lot of cheap whistles until i figured out that i needed to get a good one, and got a Burke.

I like the whistle when i want to learn a tune and not worry about breathing articulation, and all the related flute machismo. But flute *is* my bag (baby!).

Mark, having heard Klezmer music on the clarinet, i’d think that it’d do Irish real well too. Thing is, there is no tradition, so you’d have to make it up as you go. But i guess you could take some inpiration from the uilleann pipes.

Re: How did you pick your instrument?

I started playing the whistle because a man I got chatting to at a session on the Holloway Road (London) in the early eighties told me that I should give it a go if I liked the music so much. It never even occurred to me at the time that I’d be able to play in sessions like that, as I’d never played anything before, and none of my family and friends played. I sort of took to it but never did anything much with it other than tootle away to myself at home. It took another 15 wasted years before I plucked up the courage one day to phone Eamonn Cotter and ask him to make me a blackwood flute. Which is now my best friend, and goes out with me a lot more than my wife does!

Re: How did you pick your instrument?

I agree Ptarmigan…the instrument chooses us.

My older brother plays piano. He’s nine years older than me, and as early as I can remember we had classical albums playing in the house. The strings in Beethoven always hit me right in the gut…I could never understand why the other instruments couldn’t just leave the violins and cellos alone 🙂

Classical music itself didn’t grab me as much as various trad musics, and rock, so I wandered through the mandatory piano lessons, then harmonica, drums, 5 string banjo, guitar, mandolin, and finally fiddle. I wish someone had just put a fiddle or cello in my hands when I was 2 and knew what sound I wanted–just not what instrument produced it. So now I’m dabbling in flute and whistle–a nice antidote for days when my left ear needs a rest from the bow noise…

I have a son who was called by electric guitar and in a little more than a year he’s all over it. And my other boy has such a good ear it’s frightening. He’s drawn to piano and guitar–not sure if he’ll choose one over the other or just go nuts on both.

Posted .

Re: How did you pick your instrument?

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve told my life story on this website - all the relevant bits anyway. But I’m so self obsessed, I jump at the chance. Here I go again. I chose my instruments largely though circumstance - if you like, they chose me. My first instrument was piano - mainly because we had a piano in the house. There was also a Generation C-whistle on top of the piano, bought second-hand from some car-boot sale when I was a child, which was never played.

One evening, when I was 16, my mum came home from work with a mandolin she had bought from a junk shop for 12 pounds. She revealed to me that she had, since her youth, always fancied herself playing the mandolin, and seeing them, over the years, hanging in shop windows, had often been tempted, but until now had always thought better of it.

Already knowing a little bit about guitars, I deduced that this mandolin was in need of new strings and new machine heads, and equipped it accordingly (immediately adding 40 pounds onto its value). My mother had been told in the shop that it was to be tuned to violin tuning, so I consulted a Ladybird book (anyone who spent their early childhood in the UK will know what that is) about musical instruments and tuned it up. I worked out a few chords on it, strummed them now and again, showed all my friends, got bored and put it behind the settee.

A couple of years later, I was beginning to take an interest in Traditional music. The aforementioned tin whistle was dusted down and was soon to be joined by a multitude of other whistles in various keys.

Another year on, my parents were planning a trip to come and visit me at my university. They asked me if there was anything in particular I would like them to bring, to which I responded, “Yes. The mandolin.” And the rest, as they say, is history.

Incidentally, to this day, my mother has not yet learnt to play the mandolin.

Re: How did you pick your instrument?

Y’all have interesting stories to tell. Don’t know if I can add to it well, but…
My Irish-American dad (very Irish and very American to the depth of his soul) was a jazz drummer in his younger years. That type of music was always around me. Dance grabbed me from the earliest days (to live is to dance!). (Why I never knew about Irish music, I’ll never understand.) I tried piano as a kid, then, I got swooped up into the international folkmusic scene of the 60’s, complete with guitar that I played off and on for years even though I didn’t feel completely comfortable with it. I seemed like too large an instrument for me. Always wanted to try mandoline but was scared off when I was told it is too confusing to learn since the strings are tuned and played opposite of a guitar. With a slight hand injury I received from too much guitar playing, I stopped, and went searching for something else I could play instead–something without strings, something mellow sounding. Off I went one night to my first Irish fest, and, bingo! There was the bodhran. What else would a drummer’s daughter try? I think I’m mediocre at best, so far, and very impatient with my progress. (I’ve got this mental picture of where I want to be and I’m not there.) I suppose I’m more impatient because I’ve promised myself that as soon as I’ve got my drumming where I want it, I’ll start the whistle…and I want to start the whistle! It’s not a mellow instrument like I’ve always preferred, but like y’all, ITM has converted me…late in life, but it has.

Posted by .

Re: How did you pick your instrument?

Someone lent me some books of folk-songs. I couldn’t read music for s*** so I bought a cheap plastic recorder to help me pick my way through the tunes. Still play recorder but wandered through guitar (didn’t like) to mandolin (smaller and more portable, also cute). Might be acquiring a fiddle next year. A good fiddle is lovely to listen to.

Posted by .

Re: Clarinet In ITM.

Glauber, Mark et al,
There are a few bands who emplyed the clarinet in the vamped-up 78 record golden era (1920’s and 30’s), probably most famously ‘The Flanagan Brothers’ who had it on a few song arrangements. A couple of dance music bands used it to good effect as well though- “The Garyowen Irish Recording Orchestra” in the 50’s for example.

It did’nt really stick as much as the saxophone did in the dance bands, possibly due to the fact that the fingering of the sax is much closer to that of the flute or pipes (post WW2 it was fairly common in co. Sligo for fluters to play sax on the side for dance bands, as Josie McDermot did). I think it’s a pity, I much prefer the tone of the clarinet in those old recordings.

Regards, Harry.

http://www.strayceol.com

Re: How did you pick your instrument?

From the dancing side. I played a classical viola in school, thought about going pro, decided I wasn’t up for the amount of sexual discrimination rampant in the violist universe back then, or so they told me. My dance teacher found out about it and wanted me to take up the fiddle for shows. So I did. I’m sure I was dreadful. I had no teacher, I was reading off music, blah blah blah. A year or two later, I met Shannon and Matt Heaton, went to Ireland, and found out what the music was *actually* supposed to be like, and have been obsessed ever since.

A girlfriend with reeeeaaaallly biiiig……hands….. yes, Dave? 🙂

Zina

Re: How did you pick your instrument?

When I was in school I was asked to ride this woman’s horse while she was having a baby. She had two other children not old enough to be left by themselves. We became family friends and when they moved out into the bush I used to go and stay with them for weekends; gallop bareback along dirt roads, chase kangaroos, bushwalk in the mountains, baby-sit the baby so they could have a night out back in town. Those were care free days. Their brand new designer house had picture windows framing picturesque mountains and there was heating in the floors (very unusual in Australia at the time). One of the kids played the violin in the local youth orchestra, and hated to have to practice every day. I had the usual squeak and squak at her violin and fell in love with the sound. Made this mental note that I wanted to play it myself one day.

Over ten years later, half a world away, in London, having picked up a bit of an Irish accent from riding harses in Ireland, and with two beautiful Irish babies of my own to boot, out of the blue I was given a fiddle. It was a bit like Frank McCourt’s conundrum in ‘Angela’s Ashes’. Was it left by the angels on the seventh step from the top or from the bottom? Anyway, I took it for years to group lessons with Brendan Mulkere and Mary Conroy in Lordship Lane, East Dulwich - 30 odd brilliant kids of Irish extraction playing an assortment of instruments and me, a clumsy adult Aussie. I didn’t pick the fiddle. ITM and the fiddle picked me!

Posted by .

Re: How did you pick your instrument?

I like this discussion–very positive. by the way, My name is Andee, and I am new to “the session”.

Originally, I played (still play) harp. I occasionally would have this great fiddler from one of the sessions in my area put tunes down on tape for me, and I went home and learned them on the harp. My teacher would say, “that’s a great fiddle tune” or “yeah, a fiddler would do it that way”, etc.

Then I started having these weird fiddle dreams–like being in a music shop with fiddles on shelves and hanging on the walls all the way up to the celing, like something out of Harry Potter. And some of those fiddles were sort of inflatable…but I digress…

So I started on the fiddle with my harp teacher, who, comviently enough is also a fiddle teacher.

Besides, a fiddle is so much easier to carry to a session than a harp! To me the fiddle is to Irish music what the electric guitar is to rock-n-roll.

Andee

Posted by .

Re: How did you pick your instrument?

I think that in my case I just had no choice 🙂

I’ve been playing the baroque recorders since the age of 7 or 8 and was exposed to Irish Trad music at the age of 12 or so. I tried to play ITM on the recorder, for I seriously fell in love with Irish music in particular and Ireland in general. But after 3 or 4 years of playing ITM on the recorder I understood that Trad music should be played on a traditional instrument.

I had a Generation D whistle, which my recorders teacher brought me. At first I didn’t want to play it because it felt uncomfortable compared to the recorder, but then I started playing in sessions and felt really ashamed to play a baroque instrument in the pub… So I picked up the whistle again and made myself get used to it.

Shortly after I swore I’ll be faithful to the whistle John McSherry and his Low Whistles arrived here for a few concerts with one of the local bands. When he returned to Ireland I bought a Low D and now the whistles & I live happily together. I’m quite obsessed whith those sweet instruments, but it’s not as though I decided to pick them up; I just had to.

Re: How did you pick your instrument?

On our first trip to Ireland, my husband and I were in a music store. He said he wasnt feeling well, and went back to the inn. While he was in our room, throwing up, I bought my first concertina. It was, of course, pretty dreadful, because it was a cheap one (only about $700.00, you know), but I didn’t care. I loved it–but couldn’t play it. A few months later, when I had picked out a few tunes, I got brave enough to go to a session in Rockford. I walked into the place, and heard beautiful, golden concertina notes shimmering above the rest of the music. That’s how I met my teacher. I got a better concertina, and am thouroughly obsessed. I drive well over 1000 miles a month to get to the sessions so I can play. I attended a Noel Hill Concertina school this summer, and came home more determined and impassioned than ever. The instrument feels like a little breathing animal between my hands when I play. When I am really engrossed in the music, my concertina seems to disappear and the music just come from within me, almost like singing with my hands. I love my concertina.

Re: How did you pick your instrument?

Ah, Cassie, that’s lovely! What a picture you’ve painted of a player with heart and love for her instrument…

Re: How did you pick your instrument?

Powerful stuff Cassie. Something to add to the mantra of effortlessness–you’ll know you’ve arrived when your instrument disappears and the music is still there….

Posted .

Re: How did you pick your instrument?

I think that being in love with your instrument like that is maybe the most important thing. Being able to feel that it’s alive in your hands and will respond to you when handled *just* so. Having a “little breathing animal between my hands” is such an evocative description, Cassie. Sometimes I feel like my fiddle is alive, and Will’s description on the “squeaky e string” thread about *stroking* the strings with the bow, using fingers and wrist (I think that’s how you put it, Will.) was dead on. Tapping into the “sensual” part of playing an instrument really helps.

I started out on Mandolin, but after three years someone loaned me a fiddle to try. Even though it felt awkward at first, it wasn’t long before I knew that I’d found my instrument. That doesn’t keep me from repeatedly having a go at the whistle, or from casting envious glances at the concertina player in my local session, though!

Re: How did you pick your instrument?

I have always loved button accordian music and for years said, “Gee I wish I could play like that.” Finally, my husband said, “For God’s sake, stop talking about it and just do it!” He also bought me a button box for Christmas and what a wonderful gift. I just love learning to play it and found other box players, who I didn’t think existed in Toronto, not to mention a wonderful teacher.

Re: How did you pick your instrument?

the education authority string quartet came to talk/play at our junior school.i liked the sound of the violin but because i was tall for my age they gave me the viola. (i’ve been listening to every ~#******* so-called viola joke ever since.the real viola jokes are great but i hate the lazy substitutions which are often rehashed so-called irish jokes.)
(by the way,Zina,you should have taken up viola in the uk,there are loads of lady violists here,not all with big hands,i might add…)
that off my chest,i loved the dark sounds and still do,they sometimes make your heart jump.
as for the fiddle,it came back again in the transfigured guise of trad music.
i appreciate the brighter tones but it’s nice having the dark - which probably explains why i like tunes that use the lower strings as well.
good luck with the flute,Mark, i think it’s probably more session friendly than a 5-string banjo or the clarinet (sorry,Glauber and Harry but it really is n’t my cup of tea!). although i too like the clarinet in gypsy and klezmer music as it’s so fantastically over the top;cracking.so there you go

Re: How did you pick your instrument?

Heh. I think I’m a bit, er, antique or vintage or something. The world of the viola back when I was in high school was rather male dominated. The violists I talked to back then either gave me a pat on the head as if to say, that’s nice dear, now go put on your apron, or warned me that they’d never let their daughters become violists…now of course it’s different – my dear friend Emily is a wonderful violist. I still love the viola, but gave mine away when it became clear that I wasn’t playing it and I felt it would be better that someone who needed it play it.

I took up the viola because, at the tender age of, let’s see, I believe I was seven, our school started up a school orchestra and music courses. I chose the violin at first, but one lesson of squeaky squawking sent me back to the music teacher’s office asking to change to the viola – I still squawked, of course, but at least it wasn’t as high pitched and I felt less painful that way. 🙂

The only reason I knew about other instruments not being able to hit the same range during sessions is because I LOVE the tunes down in the lower strings, and was regretfully informed by the Heatons that it wasn’t on for sessions. 🙂 Pat O’Connor plays a Bobby Casey’s with his fiddle strings tuned down so they sound even growlier, and it went straight through my gut – adored it.

Zina

Re: How did you pick your instrument?

I have loved Irish music all my life, but it never occured to me until about three years ago that I could potentially play it. I started off playing clarinet as a child, then picked up bari and tenor sax in a jazz swing band, then I eventually quit jazz and started playing tenor sax in our church band. Meanwhile my wife an kids and I loved to listen to Irish music CD’s whenever we traveled. My brother-in-law, who is also in the church band was joking one day while I played an Irish hymn on a tin whistle, and said something like, “Dirk, why don’t you take up the uilleann pipes!” He was teasing me for learning to play the whistle and harmonica quickly, but for me, his suggestion was an instant revelation. I took him a great deal more seriously than he expected, and when I showed up in church six months later with a practice set, the joke was on him. So, that’s how the instrument found me, and I suddenly realized it’s the style of music and instrument that I always wanted to play.

-Dirk

Posted by .

Re: How did you pick your instrument?

I love your story, dirk. Have you ever read the book “The Artist’s Way?” I don’t remember the author’s name, but it’s all over in book stores. She wrote a line someting like this: “If we take a single step, the universe will come rushing forward to meet us.” I feel that is very true–and that’s how our instruments found us. You play pipes, I play concertina–who’d have thunk it??
Cassie

Re: How did you pick your instrument? (Clarinet stuff)

The reason that the clarinet never really took for Irish music is because the mechanics of it make it *very* difficult.

First, the boehm clarinets do not take to cross fingering well at all. Try to play a roll or a cran, fast, when you can’t to one of those beautiful one finger lifts like you use on the flute or the whistle.

Second, the single reed limits articulation - you can’t do rhythmic ornamentations like triplets at speed: the throat method of breaking the wind stream doesn’t sound at all good on a single reed instrument, and double-toungueing, which is the other way of doing it, will break the reed.

Finally, the boehm clarinet has two registers, separated by a 13th - that’s an octave plus a fifth, not an octave like the flute or the sax.

All of that combined with the transposed key of the common clarinet (Bb) make it an incredibly difficult instrument to play. I have heard someone do it well at a festival, and it sounded lovely. But it’s *so* hard to do well, and there’s no one to help you. It’s well beyond my abilities.

Part of the reason that I’m loving the flute and whistles so much is because of how the finger skills that I spent so many years developing on the clarinet transfer well.

Re: How did you pick your instrument?

Dirk, here’s a picture of a bagpipe that you shouldn’t play in church:
http://www.ancestral.co.uk/soon.htm

Mark, based on short experience, i agree that the clarinet is a very hard instrument to play, especially compared to flute and sax. But it seems to me that they play Klezmer in it at least as fast and as ornamented as we do Irish. I wonder if this tradition started on pre-Boehm clarinets. Irish didn’t catch up on the Boehm flute, even though the fingering there is not that different from the old flute. But you can’t do those lovely rolls, cuts and taps on a Boehm flute; they end up sounding almost like fiddle rolls. Not bad, just not the same thing.

Re: How did you pick your instrument?

Hi Cassie,
‘The Artist’s Way’ was written by Julia Cameron and its well worth a good reading. Here’s a quote from it:
“Music is your own experience, your thoughts, your
wisdoms. If you don’t live it, it won’t come out your horn.”
Charlie Parker
Cheers

Posted by .

Re: How did you pick your instrument?

Clarinets aren’t hard to play fast - they’re hard to play ITM on. There’s a big difference there.

Klezmer developed on the clarinet. It’s one of the main instruments for the style - clarinet is to klezmer almost what fiddle or pipes are to ITM. So the basic flow of the melodies, the style of ornamentation, are all extremely well-suited to the instrument. And it is pretty specific to boehm clarinet. A lot of the tricks that make the klezmer clarinet sounds work come from the mechanics of the boehm Bb clarinet. (In some ways, it would make a lot more sense for me to be a klezmer player; I’m Ashkenazi Jewish on both sides of the family; klezmer should be running through my veins. But somehow, Klezmer never grabbed me. ITM did.)

ITM is different… It’s music that started on the fiddle or the pipes or the harp. So the basic flows, the keys, and the ornamentations all derived from the way that those instruments were played.

I don’t think the clarinet is, in general, harder to play than the flute. (Not speaking about ITM here, but just the general qualities of playing the instrument.) In fact, I think the flute is a harder instrument; the basic fingerings are similar in difficulty, but the flute embouchre is a whole lot harder to do right.

There’s also that transposition issue, which is really wierd to explain… But a Bb clarinet is really good at tunes in key signatures of Eb, Bb, and F major (which are played as F, C, and G major on the Bb clarinet). It’s awkward in concert G (which is played as A), and
really, really hard in D (which is played as E).

I still play my clarinet sometimes for other stuff (which I do rarely). But for ITM, I’m sticking with my whistles and flute.

Re: How did you pick your instrument?

Or, as “Bleeding Gums” Murphy once said, “music is like a fire in your belly, which needs to come out, so you better stick a horn in your mouth!”

Re: How did you pick your instrument?

Glauber, ye’r priceless.

Posted by .

Re: How did you pick your instrument?

Thinking of Glauber’s remark about how you could maybe base an Irish clarinet style on uillean pipes - I’d love to hear someone give it a go! They certainly have some points in common; the swooping, bendy notes, the duck-like squeaks.. 😉
Give it a try, Mark - and tell us how you do… I’m genuinely curious to know how this would turn out.

Posted by .

Re: How did you pick your instrument?

I’ve already given it a try, and given up… I’m not enough of a musician to create a revolutionary new style of playing.

Besides, to have any chance of doing it, I’d need an A clarinet, not my current Bb. And it’ll cost more to buy one than to get a really spectacular Irish flute, which I know I’ll be able to play ITM on.

(A good A clarinet is a minumum of about $2500… For that, I could do just about any good keyless flute I wanted, or even a really good selection of keyed flutes…)

Maybe if I were a better musician, I’d be more confident about it. But I know from what I’ve already tried that it’s beyond my highly limited abilities. (I’m sort of the black sheep of the family. My older brother used to be a pro french horn player; my little sister is a music teacher and classical violin player. Me, I’m just a computer geek, who tries to do this stuff for fun.)

Re: How did you pick your instrument?

That’s a switch, Mark! Usually the black sheep is the artistic one (that’s me, in our family)! I dated a french horn player for a while, and discovered what a lot of symphony orchestra folk know – french horn players are almost always *great* kissers! 🙂

Re: How did you pick your instrument?

But Mark, imagine the fame and the money that you would have!

Re: How did you pick your instrument?

Gee Zina, from a horn player, Thanks! If I could ever convince a lady to kiss me, I’d prove it was true. When you study brass you spend hours doing odd exercises that strengthen the little muscles around your mouth. [go ahead, punch me and feel the muscles there]. But it never comes up somehow when you play concertina – they punch you, but not in the mouth. ;o)

Ken

Posted by .

Fire in your belly

That Bleeding Gums quote is so good, i had to dig out the whole thing and share it with you. It’s from the Simpsons, of course. Lisa (the talented and frustrated musician) is describing her contribution to her family’s quilt:

“Look Mom, I’ve finished my patch. It depicts the two greatest musical influences in my life.

On the left is Mr. Largo, my music teacher at school.
He taught me that even the noblest concerto can be drained of its beauty and soul.

And on the right is Bleeding Gums Murphy.
He taught me that music is a fire in your belly that comes out of your mouth, so you better stick an instrument in front of it.“

Re: How did you pick your instrument?

Love that episode of the simpsons. When I was growing up I spent endless nights sleeping under the tables at sessions or going to festivals and I used to hate it. When I was 17 I decided all of a sudden that I actually liked it. I went to my house and had a look around and found a fiddle. Not the most lovely story about choosing an instrument, but I do love it now - otherwise I wouldnt spend time playing it and time writing to you guys and chatting about it. Up the fiddle (tho concertinas have a gorgeous sound and flutes, banjos, accordians, etc……..)

Posted by .

Re: How did you pick your instrument?

I played dreadful backup guitar when I first discovered the local session. Guitar was the only instrument I knew how to play at the time. Finally, I resigned myself to the fact that I’d never be a good backup musician. So, I decided to switch to an instrument that would be challenging enough to force me to discipline myself and would always be welcome at any session. Five years (and three fiddles) later, I’m still going at it and I couldn’t ask for a better way to spend my time. Fantastic!

Morris Goldberg

I was thinking of this discussion earlier today when my wife and i were driving back home and listening to Paul Simon’s Graceland album (it was a compromise – we listened to John Carty’s “Last Night’s Fun” on the way there and “Graceland” on the way back). The track “You can call me Al” has this amazing pennywhistle solo by Morris Goldberg (whoever he is, God bless his soul). This was the first time in my life i heard a ’whistle, and it started me in my quest for the perfect cheap whistle and my journey towards Irish music. So Morris in Graceland was the beginning of Irish (though not the beginning of music or of flute) for me.

Re: How did you pick your instrument?

Yes, the guy’s amazing. I found out that he’s the sax player in the Rosie O’Donnell Show? Does that still exist? Yikes! 🙂

Re: How did you pick your instrument?

Ok so I’m a little late to this discussion but better late than never 🙂

My first instrument was the piano (8 year old) before moving on to folk guitar (12) and then electric (14).

Over the years I have tinkered with many others (flute, mandolin, viola, tin whistle just to name a few) until about ten years ago, on sheer impulse, I took up the folk harp.

This instrument definitely picked me, and for 5 or six years I made my living play, teaching, and publishing traditional arrangements for the folk harp. (I have two harps - a 22 wire strung and a 30 nylon strung).

However over the last couple of years I finally admitted to myself that, harp-wise, I was burnt out. The thought of not playing a musical instrument never occurred to me, and I started to look around for something else to play. I’ve always wanted to play cello, and have been working away on it (on and off) for 12 months. I love it, even though I sound like I’m killing a large farm animal!

A couple of months ago, again on the spur of the moment, I happened to mention to my dad that I’d like to try the concertina, and lo and behold he replied “would you like to borrow one?”

Although Dad’s is a very basic (read “honky”) 20 button anglo, it only took a couple of weeks for me to realise that there was more than a passing fancy, so I promptly bought a second hand (six month old) a nice C/G Anglo over the internet.

I’m still sawing away at the cello, and pick up the harp from time to time (must practice for my sister’s wedding! 🙂 My musical journey has certainly been a far-ranging on, and I’m sure that in some time in the future I’ll be tempted to trying yet another instrument. As long as there’s music, I’m happy 🙂

Just a few random neurons from Down Under 🙂

Ptollemy

Re: How did you pick your instrument?

It chose me. It was the fiddle. I heard my first Irish session at a local pub when I was about 37. The fiddle grabbed me, took over my brain, and it’s been an up hill, knock down drag-out battle ever since. I wouldn’t change anything unless I could have started earlier.