Welcome!

My name is Jenny, and I'm glad you're here.

I'm guessing that you found me for one of two reasons:

  • 1 ~ You enjoy the music of my band, Circa Paleo and want to know more about it.
  • 2 ~ You have a Hot Violinist within and are seeking some tips on how to do all of this yourself.

I'm mostly focusing on the instructional stuff here, but this is also a great place to hang out if you want more behind the scenes info and unreleased previews of my music projects.

If you're just here to listen and watch, that's cool, but now a few words for you fiddlers and fiddlers to be:

I'm not claiming to be an expert of the violin, but I do know a LOT about starting violin "late" since I myself began my fiddle journey at age 18. I've also learned a lot about unique world music styles over the past several years of traveling all over the place.

Now I want to share all the quirky tips and music that I've learned. In other words…

I'm here to make YOU into a Hot Violinist.

Before we go further, lets define hot, shall we? Because the hot I’m talking about reaches far beyond smokin’ fiddle riffs and gym bodies. Check out my first blog post, "The Hot Violinist Manifesto," to read about what "hot" really means to me.

Zero to Vibrato, Case Study: Derek

Is it possible for a relatively new player to learn vibrato in a matter of weeks?

I wasn't totally sure two weeks ago, but now I know.

Say hi to Derek!

He's a of father of three (all boys, 5 years old and under!) and works as a Nuclear Equipment Operator at a plant in Illinois. The schedule is grueling. Nights one week. Days the next. Alternating.

Average overtime is 650 hours per year. When the plant goes on “outage” he works 12 hour shifts racking up 72 hour work weeks.

When not on outage schedule he's taking a licensing class to become a Nuclear Reactor Operator. (He told me same job as Homer Simpson!) That's 60 hours per week of on the job training and study time.

AND……. he's been cursed with a love of the sound of the violin.

“In my teens and while I was in the Navy I was into Final Fantasy. At its peak of popularity they would use a real orchestra to record the music.  I loved the music and especially the violin. I remember during this scene in Final Fantasy 8 where you play a violin, and I thought how cool would that be?!”

(By the way, Derek served in the US Navy 1999-2005. He spent 4.5 years on the USS Carl Vinson Aircraft Carrier and operated one of two nuclear power plants on the ship that supplied fuel to the jets. He served 3 tours including being part of the First Strike during Operation Enduring Freedom after 9/11. He later said he regrets watching so many movies instead of practicing an instrument on those ships!)

He always wished he had played an instrument he liked as a kid instead of trumpet or baritone. And wanted something more unusual than a guitar.

He shopped for an accordion in about 2010.

“I never made the jump. I thought I was too old.”

Derek always had a thing for holiday music. One day the YouTube rabbit hole brought him to Lindsay Sterling and Taylor Davis playing a bunch of holiday tunes.

“I became obsessed. I kept telling the wife I want to learn the violin.”

She said, with what time?? ​

“I already had too many hobbies and with two then three little kids I knew she was right. My obsession grew and grew.”

Then Derek's grandmother passed away and left him $600.

“It was so important to her to pass that money on to me. I wanted to do something with it that would be memorable. So it hit me, I could buy a violin with it. I told the wife I'd give up my bowling hobby for violin. Whether it's a success or I totally flop, I would remember that her money went on to teach me violin. Or at least attempt it.”

He happened upon my exploding kale video last Spring, but didn't sign up for ViolinWOD because he had just found a local teacher. Then shortly after enrollment closing, the teacher left town without much warning.

I squeezed him in at the last minute, and he began the 5 min a day program in March.

Three weeks ago, Derek and his classmates started on my new vibrato program.

I remember thinking that there are two possible outcomes:

1) These students apply the movement practices and break through on vibrato in unprecedented record time.

or…

2) This totally frustrates them. I stand by my belief that it's good to know where you're headed… But they may not be actually doing vibrato any time super soon.

So…. what has happened??

I thought I'd show you instead of tell you. Here's a little video montage of his journey up to this point.

That sound at the end… that is a proper vibrato.

[WOOOOOHEEEEEEEEEEE! That's my inner teacher monologue here lately….]

Everyone who has tried this knows it's impossible to fake this skill and get away with it.

Sure, we will fine tune over the next month or two, but he's already doing it. And already enjoying it.

At the 2.5 week vibrato mark he said,

“This has been fun and I feel like my violin is alive now.”

Derek has been playing for a total of about 8 months. I asked him what his wife thinks of his playing now.

“When I brought her down to the basement to play Canon in D with my new vibrato abilities she was quite impressed.”

I'll keep you posted on his progress from here!

If you wanna join Derek on this vibrato adventure, click here to check out Vibrato in 3 Steps. Enrollment closes Wednesday Nov 22, at 11:59 pm. 

Rains of Castamere Cover from Game of Thrones

Spoiler alert! (Early Season 1 only…)

A giant White Walker popped up in my neighborhood about 3 weeks ago!

It was a billboard that pretty much just featured one ice-blue eye the size of a car along with the lettering:

GOT
7.16 at 9 HBO

A peace loving friend of mine was talking about the billboard with total disgust, “If you want people to be empowered, why show them scary stuff like that?”

I could see his point.

But I was also surprised to hear that, because when I saw the billboard, the empowerment of human kind was the last thing on my mind.

The first thing?

PURE GLEE IN ANTICIPATION OF SEASON 7!!!!!!! WEEEEE!

If that makes me a bad person, so be it. More on that later… 🙂

I was slow on the uptake getting into Game of Thrones.

I think I was bouncing around a lot on the road during the first few seasons, so I didn't really give it a look until about when Season 4 had finished.

I was still kind of on the fence through most of the first episode, but then during the final five minutes of Episode 1, little Bran got pushed out the window.

I was hooked.

(Because I needed to make sure he was ok!)

And with 4 Seasons worth of episodes stock piled…. those were the good ol' days!

Now I have to do stuff like this to make time pass in between seasons:

What about you? Are you looking forward to seeing how the GoT story continues?

What does the White Walker with his cold glowing eye balls really represent?

Winter has been coming for a while now… When it finally does, I imagine everyone will have to see the true adversary.

My fantasy is the characters are going to have to set aside the typical power struggles, wars, revenge and home dragon raising projects to actually work together for once.

Or am I just justifying a guilty pleasure???

Lemme know what you think!!!

Circa Paleo Update April 2017

This is a letter to all the CP fans with some bits of news about my adventuring bandmates. 

Dearest Amigos,

We hope the first few months of 2017 have been treating you right and that wherever you are in the world the sun is shining. Either that or you are wrapped in a nice warm sweater with a cup of tea in hand.

Circa Paleo does not have any shows booked on the road together this year, but our members are out and about up to all kinds of exciting things.

We are all still intimately connected and in touch.

For example, just the other night James and Joshua created a group text thread and sent Kelly and me close-up photos of these huge piles of nachos they were enjoying at our band’s ol’ fave margarita spot in Texas.

I’ll start with James, since he has the most impressive news update by far. He rescued this pelican from the Great Salt Lake:

He has also joined up a wonderful band called Duende! You can catch them for the final weekend of Sherwood Forest Faire, THIS weekend, April 22, 23.

After that they’ll be headed West to Southern Cali Ren faire. This band features Amanda Kitchens and….. your very own…

Jake Cooper!

I’m afraid I have to share a bit of news about Jake that may be disappointing to some…

Yes, he is officially taken. He and Kendra tied the knot. Here’s a pic of the adorable couple on their wedding day December 23:

Joshua will be out at Sherwood this weekend as well! He is performing with Saxon Moon. They have been up to some cool gigs such as the Dallas Museum of Art.

Throughout the Spring festival season Joshua has often been found performing as a small seal:

Before that, Joshua was out for a Winter tour with David Arkenstone – I heard several of you guys made it out to share the moment!

As you guys know… the CP group and fans are a family, and it always makes me happy when I see pics of any of you together.

Speaking of band family, our beloved Mandi is doing great. She’s been busy being a baddass as usual:

Mandi is of course missing Jay the very most out of all of us, but at least she still has a somewhat Scottish looking dude nearby to swing nunchucks at:

Kelly has been writing a bunch of new original songs, and is this close to mastering her middle splits:

Easter Sunday, she and I hopped on FaceBook Live to play an impromptu holiday jig. We were so surprised how many of you were there to send hearts and thumbs-up floating across the screen!

We had fun and will definitely do this again since you made it feel like a crowd dancing out there:

Feel free to leave a comment to say hi from your part of the world, and I'll pass it along to all the traveling CPeeps.

xoxo,

Jenny and CP