Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Equipment Debate: How good do you go?

For the past week I've had the debating society raging in my head.

Should I get the top of the line equipment as a beginner and grow into it? Or do I spend time improving and then get top of the line equipment?

It's a universal question that can applied to any sport or hobby. How about that new golf club? Will it improve your game or be wasted on you? What about that kayak paddle? What kind of skis do you need –– or deserve?

What launched the debate was this year's birthday present from Michael. We had a music lesson together (which you might have muted on Michael's blog) when I made the mistake of trying out my instructor's bow.


I suddenly realized I was trying to play this new fantastic violin of mine with the equivalent of a K-Mart broom.

Soon I was home with six carbon fiber bows and instructions to try them out over the holiday weekend and pick the one I wanted.

None came with price tags. So it was like eating at a restaurant that I knew I couldn't afford. Apparently unless you spend over a grand on one, you're still at entry level equipment.

It didn't take long to figure out that any of them would be better than my current bow. But I still couldn't tell the difference between them.

Thus, the debate.

Do I buy the high end bow that I will grow into, possibly sounding better along the way? Or do I buy the cheap Chinese knock-off bow, replacing it with higher end bows down the line?

After a week of of a lot of input, I've realized that these two philosophies really set most of us apart. A majority of people that I asked would start with an example of a relative or a close friend who would always start with the best. And then there others that adamantly believe you shouldn't invest much until you're better at your golf game, your skiing –– your fiddle playing.

In the end, I clenched and wrote the check for the top of the line of the entry level bows –– with the encouragement of my instructor and others. And, no, I didn't spend a grand on it. It's a Coda bow, way beyond what I need right now. I spent the evening forgetting about all the fiscal angst and really paying attention to how it works. And it's great! It's light, it glides over the strings with the ease of Yehudi Menuhin, it makes me hopeful.

But I did note that those who advised me to 'go for it' didn't have one themselves.

In the end I realized that I really wanted a great bow. I just didn't want to spend the money. But I have a plan. Next time I'm planning a big purchase, I'll skip the debate and ask Michael to get it for me and to please, please, please don't tell me how much it costs.

Now that would be a thoughtful birthday present!

Fiddler's night at Fox & Goose Public House

The Irish fiddlers play monthly at Fox & Goose on the last Tuesday of the month. I've sat in a few times but my repertoire isn't complete enough to play many of the songs --- and they play like lightening! Tuesday was my evening with them until September (wow!) --- tonight I play with the Slo Jam group. More songs I know, at a pace I can keep up with.

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