Local musician’s variety of instruments as diverse as the genres she plays

February 16, 2019 | 3:00 am

Updated February 16, 2019 | 8:31 am

Lacy Jean. | Photo by Dream Copy Photography

Her ability to blend genres and styles is something that sets local musician Lacy Jean apart from many musicians, especially when explaining her main — and favorite — instrument, the violin.

Jean is most frequently asked the difference between the violin and the fiddle, because the average person thinks there is one. And she has a couple of answers.

“One has strings and one has strangs…the difference is four shots of bourbon,” Jean said. “Honestly, there is no difference. It’s the same instrument. When I play classical [music] I call it a violin, and when I play other types of music I call it a fiddle. Sometimes fiddle players may make adjustments for bluegrass purposes.”

Jean began playing the violin in seventh grade through the public school system. This led to her spending summers at classical music festivals around the U.S. where she said she studied with some of the best teachers.

Jean is known to play other instruments as well — the viola, guitar and mandolin are often part of her performances and for fun, she also plays the penny whistle, piano and Bodhran, an Irish drum.

“I love the feeling when you want to learn something that seems so far out of your realm and then you are able to learn it well,” Jean said. “I also love improvisation and the creativity that goes along with that process. It’s just a blast. Watching yourself improve all the time is such a satisfactory experience.”

At 43, Jean plays at least three gigs a week but admits some of it is seasonal.

“Summer is a lot of outside gigs, winter is generally symphony orchestras and clubs,” Jean said.

As a member of the Owensboro Symphony Orchestra, Evansville Philharmonic Orchestra and Orchestra Kentucky of Bowling Green, Jean said it is a different process than her other music.

“I can almost feel the different sides of my brain switching,” Jean said. “Orchestral music is by far the most technically difficult music to play. You must be practiced, warmed up and very prepared because you have very limited rehearsal time to get ready for a show.”

Yet, Jean said, playing with her band takes “energy, energy, energy.” She must have four hours of music memorized, but also adjust the set, if necessary.

Both experiences are “soul food,” and the flexibility to move between the two styles keeps her technique and her creative and technical mind on point.

“It’s greatly satisfying for me to be able to jump in and play in just about any situation. It’s like knowing multiple languages fluently,” Jean said.

Jean’s musical “languages” are diverse. Her first love is classical but Celtic, blues, rock and folk tie for second. She loves hip hop, soul, metal and jazz as well, but said she never gets a chance to play those.

“I have played with symphony orchestras, toured with bands, spent many hours in studios for other artists, busked on the streets, played for heads of state, played at more people’s weddings than I can ever recall and played the rare funeral,” Jean said. “I have been a soloist with the orchestra, and I have played ‘Twinkle, Twinkle [Little Star]’ for a few dozen second graders.”

For all of her audiences, Jean’s goal is to have a shared experience. She finds satisfaction when audience members tell her that they worked at an instrument or became confident in their playing because they heard her play.

Jean said that music has changed “every single aspect” of her life. Music came easily to her and this ease allowed her to gain confidence in herself and her playing. She is currently working to become more confident in what she said is the scariest part of music for her — writing. She said she has been performing more original pieces in her shows, which is making her finish “the dozens of half-written songs.”

Jean said if she could give young musicians advice it would be this, “If at any moment you stop having fun, ask yourself if what your doing is really for you or are you doing it for someone else; if someone tells you that you can’t do it, use that as a motivator and you will wow yourself beyond your imagination; and practice, practice, practice.”

February 16, 2019 | 3:00 am

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