Saturday, October 17, 2009



I always start my lessons with scales. Even if a student never plays scales at home I think it’s a great help to have them in the lesson. Teach the fiddle keys: G, A, D, and e minor through scales, adding new scales to pair with tunes in new keys. As students advance you can add second octaves, slurs, broken thirds, a chromatic scale, arpeggios, harder scales, and a more thorough understanding of key signatures, sharps and flats. It’s also a great way to start the lesson off with success, because scales are simple and straightforward to play. This is also a good time to work on any technical issue of bow grip, bow arm, or left hand.


Teaching a new tune should start the week before with the assignment to listen to the tune. I can’t emphasize listening enough! Most of the battle of learning a new fiddle tune is getting it into your head, well enough that you can hum the melody. Let your students know this and try to convince them to get this hard part of the job out of the way before they learn the mechanics of playing the tune.

It is not necessary to sit down and only listen to their recording or try to study it with the music. Rather, suggest that your student or their parents pick a time of day (breakfast, cooking, driving, cleaning, falling asleep) to put their new fiddle tune (and old tunes) on to work on memorizing. It’s fun to listen to fiddling, but can be tedious to listen to the same song again and again, so assure them they will quickly develop a repertoire that will enable them to play at local jams and sessions.

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