Hi! Laurel here from Drunken Fiddles. After teaching adult beginners for years I've noticed a common thread in students who give up on their fiddle dreams too early - people who come to the first class and maybe the second and then I never see them again.
The number one destroyer of fiddling: Perfectionism.
The phrase "Practice makes perfect" has always been floating around in our group consciousness, implying that "perfect" is the end goal to what we are trying to do here on the fiddle. But if you really think about it, perfect doesn't even exist in music. You can always play something a little better, cleaner, faster, more expressively, more in tune, more rhythmic, etc..... You'll never get there.
Perfectionists are easy to spot. After one lesson they tell me they aren't cut out for the fiddle. That they can't get it to sound good. That they aren't up to speed. They are used to be good at things, right away. Usually type A personalities and high achievers. They compare themselves to students who have been playing longer. They aren't willing to suck at music for a while.... They need it to sound amazing NOW.
To be honest, playing the fiddle and getting it to sing is quite difficult. I always tell new players to give themselves a year.... If after a year the fiddle isn't giving you joy then maybe it's not your instrument. But it takes a while to tame the bow, to learn how to be an athlete of the hands, fingers, knuckles, joints. To put the muscle memory into the body, to re-wire the brain. To release tension in the body. To channel history, emotion, memory, the unexpressed, the magic of life, through the vibrations of an instrument. To carve out a phrase with the hair of your bow.
If you can get through the first few difficult, scratchy, uncomfortable months you will notice big improvements.. I promise. You will find joy in being able to play something at a tempo that you once thought impossible. You will overcome limits and you may even find yourself on stage with a bunch of other fiddlers... You may even enjoy the sounds that come out of your wooden box in the comfort of your own home.
So, if you're a perfectionist: there's hope for you! Adopt the attitude that you won't allow yourself to quit - no matter what - for a year. Do THAT perfectly and you'll be able to call yourself a fiddler. Guaranteed.
P.S. Not guaranteed: your pet may never love your playing. But that's a whole other blog post.