How I Got Musically UNSTUCK!

by MichelleStewart on August 1, 2011

Practicing my fiddle

Hey everyone,

I’m here at my mum’s place on the Bras d’Or Lakes in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia and it’s just been a cracker of a day. I’m into my second week of teaching bodhran at the Gaelic College and I was so inspired after an awesome day of lessons and ‘a-ha’ moments that I found some time to get my fiddle out to practice tonight.

I have to tell you though, I’m not great on fiddle yet, but I’m getting better with instruction from my amazing teacher, Dara MacDonald. When I’m in Scotland Dara gets up at 6 a.m. Nova Scotia time to give me a Skype fiddle lesson at 10 a.m. Scotland time. I’m really grateful she does because she then goes off to teach a full day of school followed by more Skype lessons at night.

I am writing this to tell any of you who are thinking about learning a musical instrument, whether it’s bodhran, fiddle or whatever you’re passionate about, and you’ve been looking for a teacher in your area, that there’s never been a better time to learn. You don’t need to have someone in person, locally, to teach you anymore so there’s NO EXECUSES.

I can personally vouch for Skype or video lessons. It’s an amazing gift to give to yourself. I turned 40 this year and this is one of the things that I’m giving to myself. I’ve always wanted to play the fiddle, and for years I’ve just been transferring over pipe tunes I knew and hit a plateau where I taught myself all I could. I definitely needed help if I wanted to get better. I know I probably won’t ever get to the point of recording a fiddle cd or anything like that, but I just get so much joy out of playing it and I love the music.

I admit, I don’t really get alot of time to practice, but it fills me up. So, if you’re like me, and there’s something you’ve always wanted to learn, I want to tell you that you are NEVER TOO OLD and it’s NEVER TOO LATE to learn.

Life is too short to not do the things you want to do.

~ Michelle

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{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Shanda August 1, 2011 at 7:57 pm

I love this message Michelle. It’s time we all pick that one thing and receive it into our lives.

Much Love,

Omar August 2, 2011 at 4:49 am

Hi Michele! Sounds like fun….when do we get to learn bodhran from you via Skype? I could sure use the help!! Keep playin’ girl! -Omar

Jimmy Fulton August 2, 2011 at 5:54 am

That’s a great motivating article Michelle, and how lucky for you to have such a dedicated instructor too 🙂
I had started learning the fiddle when I was young but replaced it after 3 years with a Bodhran. Now, after receiving a beautiful fiddle for my birthday this year, I had a try a it again, and I was sad when I discovered how rusty I had become playing it. It’s true Michelle, it’s never too late to start again! I signed up in a summer workshop for traditional instruments and was lucky to get a spot in the Fiddle section. I’m really enjoying the beginning of my summer vacation with this musical activity and definitely will continue to practice even after vacation is over 🙂

Jennifer Thorpe August 2, 2011 at 6:19 am

Michelle, I totally agree! I’m turning 43 this year and have been teaching myself the bodhran for about 12 months, with help from online videos like yours. You have been really inspiring.
You’re never too old to learn anything new! Many thanks for all the great videos and messages. Jenny

Daniel Kott August 2, 2011 at 6:21 am

I found your notice interesting and I fully agree with it. I am 79 yrs old and still learning fiddle, bass, guitar, accordion. Also teaching music and international folk dance to pre-teens and senior citizens. Please look over our web site. We have a fair amount of instructional material there. We use ooVoo for teaching rather than skype. We also use Ustream for free live broadcast. So you are right distance learning is here and easy. Our other web site is

Anne Tenaglia August 2, 2011 at 7:19 am

Michelle, I did the same when I was 50. Decided that I COULD learn fiddle, your friends/instructors at the Gaelic College, especially Ian MacDougall, Kimberly Fraser and Ed Rogers showed me that it was indeed possible to learn enough to keep myself happy. The person that got me to go for it was Natalie’s mom, Minnie. What encouragement she gave me! I am going to be taking online lessons with Kimberly next year and can’t wait! Good luck. You CAN do it!

Thom Meyer August 2, 2011 at 8:10 am

Hi Michelle,
I was 4 months shy of 58 when I picked up my Bodhran and started learning it (thanks for all your lessons on youtube).
For my 58th birthday I picked up a couple of tin whistles and know a couple of songs on them, but am going to go into full tilt learning mode this winter.
My goal is to be playing in public on both when I turn 60 🙂
I do have a percussion background having started learning and playing drums when I was 10.
The biggest difference between then and now is then I wanted to play. Now I want to learn.

tom August 2, 2011 at 12:41 pm

Nice spot in Bras D’or by the Seal Island Bridge. Most Capers know that spot pretty well!

btw..Looking forward to some fiddling videos.

Here’s a recent video of my band Wills Addiction shot at the Cape Breton Bikefest this past weekend.



Bonnie mylott August 2, 2011 at 2:00 pm

Good for you! What a great gift to yourself! I’m still struggling with the bodhran but i keep watching your videos on line, but that’s OK, I’m not giving up.

Margi August 2, 2011 at 3:03 pm

Like you I want to play a musical instrument, I am learning the piano but it is a slow process and I want to be able to play like yesterday! I am still having piano lessons and I am also trying to learn the Bodhran I am a little older than you like 21 years but as you say it is never too late to learn. I found your lessons on youtube and I have only had the instrument a week so my progress is slight, I just hope I can get the wrist moving quick enough to actually make a rhythmic sound.


Lori Latimer August 2, 2011 at 6:17 pm

“Life is too short to not do the things you want to do.” You nailed it Michelle! I love the passion you have for what you’re doing. I look forward to hearing more about your journey.

Amanda Stephen August 3, 2011 at 1:10 am

This is so on point for me Michelle and I agree 100% that it’s never too late:)

Wilson Hart August 3, 2011 at 7:31 am

Michelle, Thanks for being personal and ever so helpful. I turned 64 this year and have lived a life
full of music. I guess you could call me a multi instrument guy (lad) old dude. Started with harmonica,then piano,
guitar, bass, dobro, 5 string banjo both claw hammer and finger style bluegrass, bottle neck blues guitar,irish whistle,
irish tenor banjo,didgeradoo,kalimba,ukulele-I also build them and I have two violins that play me. Also Various percussion instruments.
Then I added Bodhran -Your you tube instructions were invaluable. I now play the bodhran with other music other than
traditional Irish-I like to jam with cajun -blues – rock -and world- etc. It’s a great instrument. I have even taped a snare spring to the back for cajun and west texas music.
I have played in bands from country–to jazz -for 40 years- and taught music for 35 years.
Enough about me –I think you are a wonderful person -an inspiration -and the people you help and
have helped will cherish your contribution to their lives- I know I do.


Rocio Cano August 4, 2011 at 3:26 am

I love the way you enjoy your life!!
Thanks for all your lessons and your motivation!



Mitchell August 4, 2011 at 5:38 pm

I have been pondering the past few years whether or not to pick up my violin again. I haven’t played, seriously, since the fourth grade and would be starting again from scratch. That seriously frustrated me, and caused me doubt. But, if other people can do it, I suppose I can give it a shot. 😀 Thanks for this inspirational post!

Kate August 5, 2011 at 5:40 am

Thanks Michelle, I started playing the Bodhran a year ago and have been getting out an about playing in public, i found your lessons to be of such a help when i first started an still love hearing about what you have been doing and all the lovely experiences. Even though you can get to a certain level of playing there is ALWAYS more to know an learn. Fiddle playing certainly does not look easy but i admire fiddle players an your right its a wonderful instrument and has such a great sound. Im very musically minded and now in a position to get out there an be much more involved, its exciting an wonderful, i look forward to the future an wonder what else i would be learning to play. Thanks for your help and inspiration Michelle xx

Piotr Obminski July 28, 2012 at 10:26 am

I’ve just discovered this site. It’s just splendid!

Thanx, keep up and all the best!

Pernilla May 27, 2015 at 12:56 am


Just been to Ireland and bought myself a Bodhràn, best thing ever….I´m in love!
Happy that I found you and your lessons on the internet, thanks!

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