Tag Archives: Violin Lesson

New Year, New Goals

As you approach the new year, I’m sure you have a few resolutions.  For me, it’s drinking less coffee, avoid getting distracted by my phone so much, and focusing on being an even better father and teacher.  But for those of you trying something new, like fiddling, or picking up the fiddle after some time off, I’d like to offer some suggestions that will help you get started and stay on course.

1.  Get the book.  Fiddling, The Basics and Beyond, was written to take you step by step, no matter your playing ability, through the difficult and rewarding world of playing fiddle.  There’s over two and a half hours of audio recordings at multiple speeds for EVERY VERSION of every tune.

2.  Once you have the book, browse through it and see which tune, and it’s version, applies to you.  If it’s the beginning, great!  If it’s in the middle of the book, that’s cool too!

3.  Now that you’ve chosen the tune, find the FREE etude video at LearnFiddle.com, that goes with your tune.  Do this FIRST.  The etudes are built to prepare you for the tune, not to be done as an afterthought.

4.  Once you’ve mastered the etude, purchase the video that matches the version you’re learning.  Then, take your time.

5.  Be consistent!  If you really want to make the most out of this, 30 minutes a day will help get you on your way.

6.  Take it slow.  Don’t try to learn and perfect the entire tune in one day!  Get comfortable with a set of bars, then move to the next, then the next.  Once you have it all steady at one, slow tempo, then start using a metronome to speed it up.

7.  Be patient with yourself.  If you get mad, you will be tense.  That’s not good.  If you find yourself getting frustrated.  Walk away, clear your head and come back later.  But forgive yourself and accept the mistakes as the chance to make progress.  Focus on the sound you want, not the mistakes you’ve made.

8.  Ask questions!  I’m here to help!  Feel free to email me! Info@LearnFiddle.com.

GOOD LUCK!

Getting Stuck

By: Patrick Clark

I had a private student come in today, who I’ve had for a year.  Before me, he had another teacher for a year.  His total playing time is now two years and we haven’t passed the twinkles.  I finally have him where his technique is really consistent, but he’s been having incredible pitch issues.  AND he has finger tapes.  I was really surprised, and a bit frustrated.  Then it dawned on me… He’s been on the same tunes for two years.  He doesn’t care about the pitch.  The poor kid is bored!

So, I put him on the next piece, removed two finger tapes and there it was.  PITCH!  He finally found it!  He didn’t have the feel of the tapes so he was forced to use his ears AND he had to think differently because he had no clue what he was doing with the new piece.  It was a rough go at the beginning of the lesson but he came around.

So, how does this apply to the folks at Learn Fiddle Online?  Well, here’s how.  If you find yourself staying on the same tune for too long, trying to perfect it, you may want to move laterally in difficulty or just move forward a bit.  Sometimes, the demands of the slightly harder piece force you into the right technique, or pitch in this case, without even realizing it.  Sometimes, you just have to change it up.

So, lets say you’re working on Cripple Creek, Version 2.  Maybe it’s been a long time and it’s just not where you want it.  First, trouble shoot the way you’re practicing.  Check out my post about practice habits.  Then, contact us on Facebook.  While you’re doing this, you may want to consider looking at Old Joe Clark Version 2.  It’s a little more advanced but it might change it up enough to force you out of a bad habit.  Also, check out the FREE technique videos that accompany Cripple Creek and Old Joe Clark.

This is just one small scenario but the principles still apply for whatever tune you’re working on.  Remember, I’m here to help!  I truly want you to succeed so feel free to ask questions.

Violin or Fiddle, That is The Question

By: Patrick Clark

The single most asked question I get from non-musicians is this; “What’s the difference between a violin and a fiddle?” The first few times I heard it, as a very young boy, I thought, “really?  Are you REALLY, asking me that?” But then it started happening all the time.  That’s when I realized, many people really DON’T know.  So, here’s what many “fiddle” players, who are untrained, say.

Although it technically is EXACTLY the same instrument, which it is, fiddle players flatten their bridge so that string crossings are easier.

To this, I say, “hmmmmm”.  For those of you who may be insulted by this, please, don’t take offense.  You may not understand how tension works in relationship to the string heights.  So, allow me to elaborate a bit.

Let’s start with some questions.

Q:  Which string, of the four strings on your fiddle, do you think has the highest tension?

A:  Your highest (sounding) string, the E string.

Q:  Which string, of the four strings on your fiddle, do you think should be closest to the fingerboard?

A:  Your highest (sounding) string, the E string.

Now, let’s explain the relationship.  The higher pitch, the thinner the string, the higher the tension, the closer to the fingerboard it has to be.  Within reason of course.  Imagine for a minute, a trampoline. If your trampoline is not tight enough, when you bounce, you bottom out and your feet hit the ground.  If you’re trampoline is too tight, you might as well be jumping on concrete.  The same principle applies for strings and their heights in relationship to their pitch.

As you go from your highest to lowest string, you will encounter increasingly thicker strings, with decreasing tension, respectively.  Additionally, the wave length of the vibrating string is increasingly larger, string by string.  So, more room needs to be allowed for the larger diameter, lower tension, and larger wave length.  So, on my fiddle and any professional violinists instrument, you will see a gradual increase in bridge height as the strings get lower in pitch.

This gradual compensation is also critical to the consistency in the feel of the instrument across the board.  The biggest issue with flattening the bridge is that the two middle strings, the A and D, sit much lower than they should.  The result is not only a difference in the feel and overall response of the instrument, but the wear on the fingerboard itself can result in frequent, costly trips to the luthier to have the fingerboard planed.  There are other issues that accompany such alterations but they are slower to present themselves.  Ultimately, you can see that I personally feel that it’s a bad idea.

So, the big answer to the big question is this;

The difference between the violin and the fiddle is nothing when it comes to the instrument itself.  They are one in the same.  The word “Fiddle,” implies that the style of music being played on the “violin,” has its roots in some sort of ethnic or folk music.  It could be Swedish, Irish, Scottish, Country, Jazz, Bluegrass, Appalachian, or any other stye that is not rooted in what is generally referred to as “classical,” music, or it’s categorical derivatives.

More information about fiddling can be found in my book, “Fiddling, The Basics and Beyond.”