Belle Starr KendelMy fiddle is an old German-made instrument, of unknown age, probably around 100 years old. Someone once told me it might have been a factory fiddle but I’m not sure. It was my first full size instrument and it has served me very well over the years. I borrowed a different one from my classical violin teacher Barb McDougall in Victoria before my very first teacher (Danuta Ciring, from Poland who was living in Calgary, AB) called me up and said she had a violin she thought I would like. Amazing how teachers manage to really get to know their student’s musical voices even when they’re tiny. I only studied with Danuta from ages 3-6, but she was a massive force in my musical world. The start, I guess. I’m so thankful she put this instrument in my hands. I kept that chinrest from Barb’s violin though… and about 10 years ago I found a fabulous bow by a Vancouver Island based bow maker Reid Hudson. It’s a good little team I’ve pieced together.

I love the violin because it has a rich tone that suits the fiddle, folk and rock ‘n’ roll music I love to play most – AND it isn’t the most precious little beast. I can travel all over the world and not worry about it too too much. I still worry, but it has proven to me that it can go from Pond Inlet, Nunavut to Liberia, Costa Rica within a few days and survive. I try to not do that to it too often. It has a false label inside and it is slightly askew. I don’t mind, maybe I am too. It’s neck / fingerboard is slightly slimmer than a normal full size violin, though the length is right – makes it a bit wonky for other players to pick up – but has great projection and feel for me. It has seen and resonated throughout a lot of the world at this point. Some gorgeous concert halls – Massey Hall, The Ryman Auditorium, etc. and a whole bunch of dingy feedback-ridden rock clubs (shall go unnamed) fighting to be heard over guitar amps. My fiddle is a road dog for sure.

I’ve only ever fallen in love with one violin. Instantly. I played it once – in my favourite violin shop in the world (Kim Tipper Violins in Victoria BC. check it out. like Scrooge’s lab or something – an old Victorian bank turned violin repair workshop. just gorgeous. Kim & co are all gems too). It cost more than most houses, so I had to leave it behind, but I think about it pretty often… sigh. Wouldn’t take that one on the road though. I love my violin but I know it wouldn’t mind a break every so often; rarely a day goes by that I’m not playing. I hope to expand the family one day, but I’m getting really into playing guitar now, and looking at/for guitars might even be more fun than trying fiddles. I’m really in trouble now.

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