Hey there,

Below you’ll find some frequently asked questions about the course. If you don’t find an answer to your question, then please ask it in the comments below. I love questions! Do I love questions? Yes, I love questions! But why??

Also feel free to share your struggles, wins, and insights as you continue your journey.


Frequently Asked Questions

Question 1: Who is the course designed for?

  • Absolute beginners.
  • Continuing fiddlers who have hit a plateau and want to bring fresh energy and insight to their playing.
  • Intermediate players wanting to go deeper into adding variation, improvisation, playing backup chords.
  • Classical players who want to do something more fun and communal.
  • People who played violin as a kid, had a bad experience and want to give music another try.

Question 2: Who should NOT take this course?

  • If you want to be a professional violinist, practicing intricate scales, lengthy etudes and arcane music theory for 6 hours a day, then I’m probably not the best teacher for you.
  • If you are in a hurry to enter and win national fiddle contests, then I think there might be a better course of action for you.
  • If you are expecting overnight results without any daily practice, then FiddleHed is not for you. I wish I could offer some magic pill that would allow you to instantly become a fiddler…actually, I don’t wish that. That would rob you of the most rewarding part: seeing yourself get a little bit better every day.

Question 3: Will the FiddleHed course teach me to be a creative fiddler?

Yes! I want you to have fun as you learn. I’ve found that this becomes possible when students tap into their innate creativity. There are some core practices that aim to nurture this.

  • Adding variation. FiddleHed teaches you how to make scales fun by adding variations like rhythms, slur patterns, dynamics, melodic variation, and so on. If you practice this on scales (which are relatively easy) then you’ll naturally start adding variations to tunes. You’ll learn to experiment with variation and find your own voice on the fiddle.
  • Make up your own exercises. As you’ve seen so far, tunes on FiddleHed are broken down into smaller parts. If you keep learning in this way, then eventually, you’ll learn and practice this way on your own. This means when you try to learn a tune that is not on FiddleHed, you’ll understand how to make up your own exercises. This is a creative act. So instead of just blindly doing pages of boring scales and etudes like this (what a lot of classical students suffer through)…

?….I will teach you how to create your own exercises by breaking down tunes into component parts:

Once you do this enough times in the course, you will naturally do it on your won with other things you learn. In other words, you will learn how to learn creatively.

  • Drone practice. I like to drone on and on about this…It’s true that drone practice is an amazing way to train your ear and play better in tune. But it’s also a way to approach practice creatively. For example, with a D drone playing, you can go between playing Bile ’em Cabbage Down, the D mini-scale (D0-1-2-3) and Mary Had A Little Lamb. Doing this you’ll start to make connections and experiment. If you continue to practice with drones, you might stumble on a melodic idea which develops into your own fiddle tune (lots of my in-person students have come up with little ditties that we record.)

Question 4: What is the Cost of the course? What do I get in each “package”?

  • Premium monthly:
    • Full access to the main course.
    • $25/month, paid one month at a time.
  • Premium yearly:
    • Full access to the main course.
    • $19/month, paid in one lump sum of $228.

Question 5: How do I enroll in the course?

Click here to sign up for a paid subscription to FiddleHed.

Question 6: Jason, what if I buy and want a refund? What’s the policy?

If I can’t teach you fiddle then I don’t deserve your money. That has always been the case at FiddleHed. So you can rest easy knowing there is a full money-back guarantee. If you feel like FiddleHed is not a good fit for you, just email [email protected] within 30 days of signing up, and I’ll refund you every penny. On top of that, if you’ve received any of my e-books, you can keep them for free. Hope they are helpful!

Question 7: Can I download the lessons?

You can download the audio clips by clicking the red down arrow.


You can download pdf files of sheet music by opening the pdf and then clicking the download button:

 

Question 8: Fiddling is hard. What if I can’t do it?

Learning an instrument is all about good practice, and FiddleHed is designed to get you to practice well. Here are some of the powerful strategies you’ll learn in the course:

  • Micropractice
    • Breaking complex things down into simple, doable exercises
  • Looping
    • Continuously playing a small bit in a groove until it starts to feel and sound good.
    • This is the process of moving from thinking to playing.
  • Call-and-response
    • Learning by listening and then doing.
    • The old-school method of playing by ear updated to the digital age.
  • Drone practice
    • A revolutionary way to play better in tune.
    • A way to make even highly technical practice more fun and engaging.
  • Tone-building
    • Learning to make each note sound good with throw-away bow, saw bow and tremolo.
  • Reflection
    • Becoming more aware of the practice process through journaling, recording and practice tracking.

But here’s a totally different way to answer the question: YOU GOTTA WANT IT! The people who succeed at fiddling are the ones who want to do it and then decide to simply play every day. The rest gets worked as you travel on your fiddle journey.

 

Question 9: I’m worried I won’t have enough time to do this. How much time per day will it take?

The great thing about FiddleHed is that you can learn and practice at a time that best fits your schedule. So you can wake up at 5:30 am and take a lesson on how to play Old Joe Clarke in your pajamas, you can practice your double stop bowing with the play-along tracks after lunch, or you can review the tunes you’ve learned before going to bed.

FiddleHed is an extremely flexible way to learn. That said, you’re going to have to practice in order to succeed. As you’ve probably heard me say, I recommend at least 20 minutes of practice a day, at least six days a week. If you can find a way to do that, then I think you’ll make it!

Question 10: You have hundreds of videos on Youtube. Why should I pay to take your course?

If you are an advanced player, then you might get a lot out of “cherry-picking” lessons from the FiddleHed channel (as well as thousands of other videos). But what you’ll be missing out on is an integrated, step-by-step system. If you are a beginner or intermediate level fiddler, the cherry-picking approach will probably become frustrating for you.

A good teacher will help you choose a tune that is the perfect level of challenge for your current skill set. They will show you new techniques that apply to the tunes you are currently learning. In this way, the learning process is accelerated because you are learning things that complement each other. Finally, working with a teacher or an online course will keep you accountable. If you’re actually paying for in-person lessons or an online course, you will be more likely to keep playing.

Whether or not you choose to subscribe to FiddleHed, I think you dramatically increase your chances of success by working with a teacher who gives you a plan.

Question 11: Do I need to know how to read sheet music to take the course?

The short answer is no. The most important thing is to develop your ear and build a strong foundation of playing technique. Later one, you can learn reading if you want (thought is not necessary).

But as you may have noticed, I include sheet music snippets. This is for people who already know how to read (from previous music studies). Basically, I’m trying to do whatever it takes to get a student up and running with fiddling. Folks who know how to read seem to find this helpful, so I include it.

Question 12: What if I want to learn to read sheet music?

Being able to read sheet music is a great tool for learning. That said, if you are an absolute beginner, I recommend waiting to learn reading. Start by focusing on learning technique, tunes and having fun. You want to be able to play before you add the additional challenge of note-reading

Once you’re at the intermediate level (or when you’ve learned 30 tunes or so) you can begin reading. The FiddleHed system of presenting things in small “learning chunks” is a great, intuitive way to learn note-reading. When you’re ready, I’ll show you how to do that without getting too bogged down in rules and theory.

Question 13: Will I be able to continue with FiddleHed after I learn the basics?

Yes! It’s true that FiddleHed was developed with the beginner in mind. Though I’m constantly trying to improve the main course, I’m also developing new lessons and courses for more advanced players.

In the Art Of Fiddling section of the site I teach more advanced fiddle techniques and concepts, like playing backup, adding variation and more advanced exercises.

 

There is also the Irish Fiddle Variation course, which is a deep dive into how to add Irish-style variation to jigs, reels and waltzes.

 

Both the Art Of Fiddling and Irish Fiddle Variation course are available to Ultimate subscribers. Currently I’m developing lessons on improvisation and old-time fiddling.

The same approach and fiddlosophy of micro-practice, call-and-response and looping is used throughout your journey as a fiddler, no matter where it takes you.

Question 14: Do I need to sign up now? Is there any urgency? Will I miss out on something if I don’t act now?

The short answer: if you want to play the fiddle, you should start immediately. You want to harness the excitement you feel right now to establish a good, daily practice so that you can successfully bring music into your life.

In this day and age we are constantly distracted with emails, social media, phones, etc. In the meantime our lives are passing us by. John Lennon summed it up: “Life is what happens while you’re making other plans.”

If you’re feeling a spark of interest and energy for playing the fiddle, I recommend you act on it now. This will motivate you as you move through the early physical, emotional and practice challenges of learning. If you decide to wait and see what happens, this window of personal motivation might close.

Whatever course or teacher you choose, if you can transform your current momentum into slow-but-steady learning and practice, then you will succeed.

 


Practice Toolkit

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 drones for the most common fiddle keys. A D drone can be used to practice tunes in D major or D minor (Dorian or Aeolian).

D drone


A drone

G drone

E drone


For drones in different keys as well as different textures and beats, go to: Drone Central.

Learn more about how to play in tune with drones here: Drone tuning the notes on the D string.

Here's a newer version of the Notefinder which is based on sheet music. If you're interested in learning to read, this will be an invaluable reference. I'll be posting lessons on this in 2020.

Note: the brackets indicate notes that are the same pitch but spelled differently. For example, AH3 (D#) sounds the same as AL4 (Eb). Without going into too much teory detail here, this will be determined by the key of the tune or piece you are playing.


Notefinder table

Here's he original table version of the Notefinder. Sometimes people learn in different ways...


Sawmill tuning Notefinder

This is used to find notes in Sawmill tuning (when the G string is tuned up to A and the D string is tuned up to E). If you're a beginner...best to ignore this! Learn more about sawmill tuning in the Appalachian Fiddle course.

G0-1-2-3-D0-1-2-3-A0-1-2-3-E0-1-2-3


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.

D Major

G Major, starting on D3

A Major

D Dorian

A Dorian


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.

For more scale play-along tracks, go to Scale Central.

Rhythms

Tucka 

Short-short-short-short-long-long. Practice on D string:

Practice more: Fingering with Bowing Exercises


Hoedown 

Long-short-short. Practice on D string:


Triplets 

1-2-3 notes per step. Practice D0-0-0-A0-0-0 with plucking:

Practice more: String Crossing Exercises


Swing 

Long-short.  Practice G0-0-2-2-D0-0-3-3-3-3-0-0 with the 'swing double' rhythm:


Slur pattern

Slur two

Here we play two notes per bow. Practice D0-1-1-0 with slur two:

Practice more: Slur Two Exercises


Slur three

Here we play three notes per bow. Practice D0-1-2-2-1-0 with slur three:

Practice more: Slur Three Exercises


Slur four

Here we play four notes per bow. Practice with D0-1-2-3, first time downbow, then upbow:

Practice more: Slur Four Exercises


Slur two-separate two 

This forms a hoedown pattern (long-short-short). Practice it with D0-1-1-1:

Practice more: Slur Two-Separate Two Exercises

30-minute Tune Routine

  • Tone and scale warmup: 5 minutes
  • Interval warm-ups: 5 minutes
  • Tune: 20 minutes

Find all play-along tracks for intervals here: Interval Central


One Tune, One Scale, Ten Minutes

  • Play a scale for five minutes
  • Play a tune using that scale for five minutes
  • As a variation, just alternate between a tune and its scale for ten minutes

10-minute tuning routine

  • Practice individual notes with a drone: 5 minutes
    • So to practice D1, use an E drone. To practice, D2 use an F sharp drone
    • If you're unsure what note you're playing, then use the Notefinder (found in another tab with this Practice Tools section)
  • Practice intervals with a drone: 5 minutes

    • Pick a focus note to use as the drone
    • So if you are practicing D3-A0, play along with a G drone (for D3); this will help you tune that note

20-minute review routines

  • Single-drone routine
    • Review tunes that share the same drone note. So tunes in D Major, D Dorian or D Klezmer can all be practiced with a D drone.
    • Use the Tunes Listed By Root Note page as your guide.
    • Play the relevant scale before each tune you review.
    • This is a fun and refreshing way to review tunes.
  • Last 5-10 ten tunes
    • A simpler routine is to just review the last 5-10 tunes you've learned in a twenty-minute session.
    • Play the relevant scale before each tune you review.

Experiment combining or alternating routines.

Click here for more practice routines

  • You are a musician if you PLAY EVERY DAY
    • Find a consistent time and place to practice. Make it a habit, like brushing your teeth; that way you spend no energy in deciding to practice or not.
    • Learn more: How To Practice Consistently
  • Listening is practice too.
  • Slow down.
    • This is cliché music teacher advice, but it's what most students need to do.
    • Learn more: Slow Down To Speed Up
  • Sing what you play.
    • Singing or humming (if you're shy) will help you to play in tune as well as remember melodies.
    • It can also be a lot of fun to alternate between singing and playing a phrase to song.
    • Learn more: Singing and Playing Practice
  • Practice audiation.
    • Audiation is hearing music in your head. Actively practice this.
    • Learn more: Audiation
  • Loop it.
    • Whatever level you're at, you can benefit from looping small bits and phrases.
    • Not only will it help your technique, but it will unlock your creativity and bring you joy.
    • Learn more: Looping Practice
  • Micro-learning.
    • Learn in very small increments.
    • Single notes > bits > phrases > tunes
    • Learn more: Micro-learning
  • Drone on.
  • Be your own teacher.
    • Make up your own exercises.
    • Record yourself and listen back. This way you can pinpoint what's most challenging.
    • Learn more: Be Your Own Teacher
  • Remember to sound good.
    • 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.
    • Learn more: Remember to Sound Good
  • Practice Just To Practice
    • Don't fixate on being great or perfect. Good is better than perfect.
    • The moment you pick up the fiddle and play you have "made it".
    • Learn more: Practice Just To Practice

Here are a few technical reminders to remember as you practice.

Posture reminders

  • Curve left-hand and right-hand fingers.
  • Bend right thumb.
  • Bend right arm and wrist.
  • Use minimal energy.
  • Left-hand fingers land on tips, not pads. This makes for more precise playing.

Bowing tips

  • Take time to focus on bowing during each practice session.
    • Get the best possible sound on single notes using long bows, throwaway bow, rhythms. Even just a few minutes of this will drastically improve your sound.
  • Use less bow.
    • This is a rule of thumb for fiddle tunes, especially for when things are difficult.
    • Continue to practice long bows. This will improve your overall sound.
  • Play in the middle of the bow. This is the sweet spot.
  • Use no extra energy or force for double stops.
    • It's more a matter of getting the bow perfectly balanced between the two strings.
    • Again, playing with less bow will help with this.

Left-hand fingering tips

  • Keep fingers down when possible.
    • For example, if you are rapidly playing D1-2, it is easier if you keep D1 down while fingering D2.
    • Practice this on scales.
  • Practice Little Lift
    • Don't lift left-hand fingers too high. Let them just hover above the string.
    • This allows you to play faster, better in tune and with more ease.
    • Practice: two-note intervals (like D1-2), scales, tune phrases, whole tunes.
      • Keep your awareness on Little Lift as you practice more complex things.
    • Take a lesson on Little Lift.
  • Practice challenging intervals
    • Your fingers need a lot more time with things than your brain (which gets bored more easily).
    • Find the most challenging interval from a tune, like D3-A1 in Oh Susannah, and practice that until you can play it with ease and joy.
    • Use the exercises from Interval Central to go deeper with this.

Check in with the body

  • Is it relaxed or tense? Are you breathing evenly?
  • If you notice you are tense and not breathing evenly, simply pause on what you're currently practicing and play a single note. Make it sound nice. See if your body is more relaxed now.
  • If you can play a single note with a relaxed body, then try more complex things: 2-note intervals, scales, simple tune phrases, whole tunes.
  • Keep returning to single notes as a way to center yourself, relax and enjoy the process.

Little pauses

  • If you find that sound is sloppy, try adding a little pause in between the notes. This gives your fingers time to find the next note. This is especially helpful with string crossing.
  • Take a short lesson: A Little Pause
  • Practice the "Stop n' Rock" exercises from String CrossingApply this idea to more complex string crossings.

Slow down

  • Students of all levels can do this to improve their fundamental technique.
  • Practice everything more slowly than you naturally would play it.
  • Also, slow down your consumption of new lessons, techniques and tunes. Stay with one thing until it really sinks in.

Take short breaks

  • It's easy to get caught up in practicing and not notice that the body is stiff and sore.
  • Take short breaks to move, stretch and breathe.

Last lesson complete:


Total course progres

Total modules complete:

All completed lessons

Here's a listing of all core lessons you've completed in the main course (modules 1.1 to 2.9).

Module 1.1


Module 1.2


Module 1.3


Module 1.4


Module 1.5


Module 1.6


Module 1.7


Module 1.8


Module 1.9


Module 1.10


Module 2.1


Module 2.2


Module 2.3


Module 2.4


Module 2.5


Module 2.6


Module 2.7


Module 2.8


Module 2.9

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