My Violin Journey
I was first handed a violin aged 8 following in the footsteps of my older brother who played various musical instruments. It was soon apparent that I too had the musical gene passed down from my mother’s mother who played the piano and my father’s father who played hawaian guitar. My first violin teacher was strict and much more interested in my passing exam after exam than in my developing a good technique and a passion for music. This approach together with whole Saturdays spent in crowded airless noisy rooms for orchestra rehearsals nearly extinguished any passion I had for the violin and music! Even though I liked some of my later teachers and progressed through all the grades, something about me, the violin and classical music didn’t quite work. I felt hemmed in, limited and frustrated that I couldn’t seem to reach my potential as a musician.
Then I discovered Blues. Unlike classical violin and other styles there is something so utterly raw about Blues Fiddle and this raw quality gives me space to express the deepest of my emotions from tenderness to rage! You can often hear pain in Blues but I love the message underneath that it is often about hope and determination to triumph through adversity.
My Guitar Journey
Having started to learn the violin at 8, I didn’t start to learn the guitar until I was 16. My Dad found me a really good teacher who was well known in the area for her playing and performing. I was told I could have 20 lessons! I remember going to this lady’s house and feeling quite unsure of myself. She was a classical musician and I had no idea who I was! However I diligently went to my lessons, learnt and practiced some chords and finger picking patterns until my 20 lessons were up!
I then went to university to do teacher training with music as my main subject. I chose to do violin and piano as my instruments but not wishing to suffer the arrogance of my violin teacher for any longer than a year, I gave up my violin lessons and took guitar. My guitar teacher was a very gentle man – the opposite to my fiery violin teacher. It was like going from the sublime to the ridiculous! My violin teacher was all about passion but couldn’t seem to draw any out of me! My guitar teacher just calmly taught me things and I couldn’t seem to draw any passion out of him! So I felt I mostly taught myself guitar but at least my teacher showed me how the music was supposed to sound.
I left these lessons feeling a bit confused. I had been introduced to some of the classical greats and all sort of other genres but I wasn’t sure if any of it was me. Did I want to play classical? Did I want to play folk? Did I want play rock or pop? Did I want to play flamenco? Not really any of these. Nothing seemed to quite fit.
I am happiest writing my own songs, playing my own chord progressions with my own Jennie strumming patterns. I am always happiest singing my own song!