FiddleHed is hybrid of old-school learning-by-ear combined with hi-tech tools of video, mp3 audio and notation.
When I started teaching fiddle lessons in 1996, I put together a little book of exercises and tunes called FiddleHed. It slowly evolved as I learned how students learn. Eventually, I moved away from using the book and focused on getting students to play entirely by ear, using recordings to help students remember tunes and scales they had learned.
One night at 9pm I had just finished a lesson. I was hungry and tired, ready to relax for the evening when my student asked if he could film me playing the tune I he just learned. I was annoyed, but did it anyway. I decided that I would film the videos for him in advance instead of letting it cut into my dinner time.
Since I had these videos laying around on my computer, I decided to just upload them to Youtube; completely raw and unedited. I continued uploading videos on a daily basis and then realized, “people are watching these, maybe I should make them better.” So I started to edit and organize them into playlists. Three and a half years and 500 free videos later, I enlisted the help of a team of talented people to create a single-stop FiddleHed site where students could have a complete learning experience.
The next phase of FiddleHed is to continue to build the course with lessons on tunes, technique and practice. I’ll also be doing “Fiddle Round The World”, a travel blog in which I’ll go to a new place each year where I’ll learn music and create lessons. First stop: Ireland. Next stop: India. Stay tuned…
Students learn everything they need to know about playing the fiddle through tunes. Instead of forcing students to first do something that may not be useful or fun, FiddleHed draws students in by teaching tunes and then showing how music works within the context of those tunes.
So if you’re learning Swallowtail Jig, you’ll learn about the E dorian scale as well as string crossing with the bow. That way you naturally see the connection between the tunes and technique. This makes the work of practicing necessary exercises and scales more fun because you immediately see how they are applied in the music you are playing.
FiddleHed also emphasizes good practice habits so that your daily sessions are consistent, productive and fun. That way you will continue to have small successes each time you play.
Remember: You are a musician if you play every day.
ABOUT YOUR TEACHER
Jaso’n k’Leinberg has been teaching private and group fiddle lessons for over 21 years. He’s toured the U.S. and Europe with the gypsy-rock band Diego’s Umbrella and a bluegrass-rock band called The Pine Box Boys. He’s also composed music for tv, radio and film, including a soundtrack for the documentary Gumby Dharma.
He lives in San Francisco with his cat, Kitty, and breakfast is his favorite meal.
Here is a quick way for you to access the essential practice tools you need. Under each tab you'll find play-along tracks, tabs and condensed teachings to help you as you practice. This is an evolving idea, so let me know in a comment below if it could be better.
Here are some common scales used in fiddle tunes. Each runs through a series of variations: two bows legato, two bows staccato, four bows, tucka (4 shorts, two longs), hoedown (1 long, two shorts), throwaway bow, triplets, tremolo.
G Major, starting on D3
Practice a tune with its scale (Kerry Polka is in G major, so practice a G major scale). Practice scales before, during and after practicing tunes.
Always return to a good sound, even if it means playing quarter notes on the D string. You can do this! You just have to remember to pause on practicing the challenging thing and just get a good sound on single notes.
Why do this? Because it will bring you deep joy. And it will build your confidence which will inspire further practice.