Foundational Ideas of FiddleQuest

Musical control and personality types

In recent years, I’ve come to believe how one regards music and education as an expression of temperament or personality. For instance, how we feel about control.

Control is the power to direct or influence behavior, action or events in ourselves and others.

Some people resist control and others gravitate towards it. Some like to be told what to do, others like to tell others what to do.

Tests like the Myers-Briggs and Enneagram reveal that our relationship to control is a reflection of our personality and temperament.

Classical violin is the embodiment of control — from how we hold the violin to how we bow each note. My move towards the fiddling world in my 30’s was due to my resistance towards control.

Bluegrass, Irish, Jazz and anything else was where people went to enjoy control-free music. Or so I thought.

As it turns out, every style of music has teachers and players and self-appointed police that insist upon a sound and technique.

Pascal Gemme, a fiddler from Quebec, explained to me how the fiddling competitions in Quebec banned a technique called ‘fancy bowing.’ It is a tricky shuffle pattern that young players were gravitating towards because it is fun and sounds amazing.

There was concern among people that led these festivals and competitions that the original sound of of the Quebecois fiddle would be lost if this bowing style was allowed.

Note for note, the classical genre still has a disproportionate share of control in its music. But you don’t have to go looking too hard to find control in the fiddling world.

Advocates for control and consistency in the classical world, though, have a decided advantage over their cousins in the fiddling world. They adhere closely to written notation that insures future generations of students will continue playing Bach and Mozart in exactly the same way.

Is that good or bad? It depends on your personality.