For the last six years or so, I’ve had the pleasure of learning how to do Irish dancing at the local sessions.* That does include a bit of step dancing (the Riverdance-type stuff most people think of when they hear the words Irish dancing) but most of it has been set dancing and ceili dancing, predecessors to the square and contra dancing we Americans tend to be more familiar with.
I suppose it was inevitable that after a few years of soaking up the really great Irish music that permeates the Anchorage scene, I’d want to start playing it, too. Easier said than done! But after a year of lessons and daily practice I’m slowly developing the courage to sneak my violin into the sessions, wait until most folks have left, then pull it out and hope they play one of the tunes I know.
So far, so good—which in newbie fiddler terms means that nobody has (yet) fled screaming. Nor have I poked any eyes out with my bow. There’s even photographic evidence of that! Yes, that’s me on the left; the absolute worst I could have done was knock the guitarist’s hat off, and I would’ve had to work for that.
So. My bow may be just a tad crooked (working on that!) and I have a looooooong way to go yet. But I’m having an absolute blast with the process of learning, and of getting involved in the flip side of something I already enjoy very much. And that’s the point, isn’t it?
*I also took a year of lessons at one of the local Irish dance schools, and it was a fabulous experience. But when I didn’t have time to continue both, I chose to stick with the laid-back, social session environment that I’d started in.