This is a collection of lessons, modules, and mini-courses designed to take your fiddling to the next level. You’ll learn new scales, bowing techniques and practice strategies. You’ll also learn things that prepare you for improvisation, adding variation, playing chords and more.

How To Make Scales Fun

The secret to practice is enjoyment, and the secret to enjoying music more is to practice.

Let’s learn how to make scales SUPER-FUN. Scales are like simple tunes. If you practice adding variation and expression to these, then it will be natural for you to do this on tunes, songs and whatever you play.

Melodic scale variation is the addition of little patterns to scales. This will better your technique, allow you to learn tunes more easily and give you ideas for improvisation. If you practice melodic variation, you’ll start to hear the scale in the tune.

This might be my favorite way to make scales fun…

Here are some tuneful fiddle exercises. The idea is to work on a specific technique, but to do it in the form of a fiddle tune. The exercises are modular. This means they are laid out for you to practice in 1-bar, 2-bar, 4-bar, and 8-bar chunks.

Fiddler’s Playground #1 – String crossing on D Major 

Fiddler’s Playground #2 – String crossing on D Dorian

Here’s a playlist of older videos on adding variation to tunes. I don’t yet have full lessons built for these (with Learning Chunks, play-along tracks, tabs and sheet music). But I thought they might be helpful to share anyway.

Here’s a playlist of lessons which explore how to add play on songs. My fiddlosophy: listen deeply to what the song wants you to do. Don’t fill up space just because you can.

I hope to return to teaching this in 2021. If you’re interested, please feel free to nudge me about this in an email.


Fiddlosophy on adding variation to music

  • Start by adding variation to a single note.
    • This is a way to physically learn the variation.
  • Then add the same variation to each note of a scale.
    • This is the first step to integrating the phrase into other music.
    • If this breaks down, then return to adding the variation to a single note.
  • Then add it to a single phrase from a tune.
    • You’re now even closer to adding variation to a tune.
    • As with the previous step, if this breaks down, just return to a less complex step.

  • Alternate between the basic and variation versions of the phrase.
    • This is my golden rule for adding variation.
    • Continuously alternate between simple and complex in a loop.
    • During the basic version, you get a little chance to reset.
    • This helps you to test if the variation sounds good.
    • This process will teach you how to add variation in a tasteful way.
  • Don’t overdo it!
    • Otherwise, you run the risk of losing the melody.
    • Remember to sound good.

Types of variation by skill level

Beginner variation