Archive for November, 2010

Halloween pedal-power smoothie mayhem

November 17, 2010

Not exactly fiddle tunes, but inspiring none the less – kids at a charter school in Hoboken trade in their halloween candy for smoothies that are made on a pedal-powered blender. Check it out.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KsP7IncdKv8
(gotta pay to embed videos on wordpress)

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Back to the fiddle; Malcolm Gladwell

November 14, 2010

I’ve been busy with work and away from the fiddle for a few weeks. Just now getting back to it, easing in with a couple of mellow but beautiful jigs, Kerfunken (or Kerfunten), which is I’d heard so many times on a Martin Hayes album but never thought to play, and Le Tourment, which I learned from Jeremiah McLane and company. I was in a bookstore a week or two ago and read the first couple chapters of Outliers, a book that proposes that exceptional ability in a given specialized field (like playing fiddle, or programming) is largely a matter of putting in the time practicing – at least 10,000 hours, according to the author. If true, it’s sort of comforting and depressing all at once – comforting because it suggests that sounding like Martin Hayes might be literally within reach, if I dropped everything else and played constantly from now until somewhere around 2015; depressing because given the amount of practice I currently fit in, I’ll be sounding pretty good about the time I die of old age. I wonder about the 10,000 hour thing, though – a working year is about 2000 hours, and there are a lot of people who do the same job for longer than five years. If that’s all there was to it, every engineer over the age of thirty would be a bloody rocket scientist. Maybe engineering is too non-specific to be comparable to, say, playing celtic fiddle, and it could be true that after five years of, say, designing injection molds or doing DOE for drug trials, most people will be pretty darn good. But it’s probably more of an emergent evolutionary phenomenon than a recipe, though – anybody who has put in 5000 hours at some task and still sucks at it will probably be fired, or transferred to a task that matters less if they screw it up.