This month’s Student Spotlight is on Eric Michieli. Eric is one of Fiddle School’s founding members and one of the most dedicated learners I know. He’s a wonderful part of our Colorado fiddling community and never fails to impress me with his commitment to improving as a musician. We’re thrilled to feature Eric as our Student of the Month. Read on to learn more about Eric’s fiddling life!
How long have you been fiddling?
Approximately eight years, give or take a month or two. Six and a half years as a student of Katie, Celeste, and Fiddle School, which is when the clock on learning really began.
How did you start playing?
I have always loved the way the violin/fiddle sounded in any song. It just sticks out as if it were singing to me and I decided one day I would attempt to learn the instrument. I admit I played between the ages of 4 and 7 years old, taught by a Catholic nun in a Catholic school who used a very quick ruler stroke to make sure my notes were properly played.
What are your favorite tunes to play and why?
Mmmm, where to start. It varies from time to time but right now I would have to say “Florida Blues” tops the list, along with “Moonlight on the River Colorado.” I finally have “Black and White Rag” and “Paddy on the Turnpike” in an acceptable spot and “Boot Heel Drag” is becoming one of my favorites. I like them simply because when I play them, I like the sound I make and they are all fun to play.
How has Fiddle School influenced your playing?
Prior to Fiddle School I attempted to learn via the fiddle landscape as we all have and saw little improvement in my playing. Fiddle School provides a logical set of steps/curriculum which has enabled me to learn the proper technique which has allowed me to “play” the instrument. Pretty simple: work on the basics and good things will happen.
How do you fit music in with your full-time job?
That part is probably the hardest part but I try to carve out an hour a day (or longer on the weekends), much like working out, where I get “touches” on the fiddle. It gets hectic when traveling for work, but I try to fit it into my schedule so that I never miss more than one full day without a “touch on the fiddle.” That might mean I wake up absurdly early and practice before leaving for the airport or practice late at night once returning from a business trip.
What’s your practice routine like?
I usually spend about 10 – 15 minutes on one-note jam or with one of the Practice Buddies, followed by a scale or two focusing on bow arm, finger placement, mechanics, intonation, etc. That’s followed by 5 minutes of focused bow arm, wrist, and hand analysis in a mirror.
I then will pick one of my tried and true tunes that are automatic and work on speed and intonation. I apply what I practiced in one-note jam and scales to a half- to full-speed song so that it takes root and will one day (usually about 3-6 months later) be internalized and a reflex. Vibrato falls into this category as well.
I have recently started videoing myself daily for a song or two to see if things are taking root. The video analysis seems invaluable. :) The whole warmup usually takes about 20 minutes. Once I am done warming up, I work on new material, whether that be a song or a mechanics issue that I am trying to overcome, like playing chords.
What’s the most important thing music brings to your life?
Mood adjustment followed by joy followed by a mild form of euphoria, sometimes followed by dancing and always a lot of smiling!!! Music makes me think, changes my attitude and is always enjoyable.
Would you like to nominate a fellow Fiddle Schooler for a Student Spotlight? Send us an email and let us know who you’d like to see featured!