Are you struggling to improve your fiddle skills? If you’re always frustrated during practice, you might be training yourself to be frustrated every time you pick up your instrument. Time to change things up and get good at getting good.
🤔 Recognize Frustration & Change Your Approach
Frustration is a common feeling when practicing the fiddle, but it’s important to recognize it and change your approach. Don’t keep doing the same frustrating thing over and over. Change something. Make an adjustment.
Each time you play you want to improve a small thing, even by just 10%. If you do that, then the improvement will compound over time into noticeable progress.
Here are some actionable tips to help you adjust what you’re doing and go from struggle to good.
🎶 Chunking – Break It Down
Break down a song into smaller chunks, starting with the melody and working on the accompanying rhythm once the melody is mastered. It’s tempting to play the whole thing…even for me. In fact, after 40+ years of learning and practice, I still need to hear everything on this page.
Fiddle players must also pay particular attention to string crossings, complex finger changes and bowing patterns, making it easier to break down the song into smaller, more manageable parts. This approach can help build your confidence and motivation.
🎶 Slow Down – Keep Slowing It Down
Playing slowly is a crucial aspect of fiddle playing. The more you slow down and focus on technique and intonation, the better your playing will sound. Fiddle players must also pay attention to the bowing speed, which can help improve the sound of the notes. Gradually increasing the tempo of the song once you have mastered the notes will help build muscle memory and accuracy.
Here’s a play-along track for a the A Part, First Quarter of Kesh Jig
First quarter: D3-3-3-A0-1-0-0-0-1-3
You could start by slowly playing it with single reps. Once you get it, use the play-along track to gradually speed it up. Rewind to slower tempos if needed.
🎶 Focus On Movement – Pay Close Attention
The fiddle is a physically demanding instrument, and as such, it’s important to pay close attention to your movements. Fiddle players should focus on proper bow hold and finger placement to ensure proper intonation and sound production. Paying attention to the movements involved in playing the fiddle can help improve technique and accuracy.
🎶 Simplify – Remove Complexity
Fiddle music can be complex, but by simplifying a difficult part of the song and breaking it down into smaller parts, you can make it more manageable. Removing any unnecessary complexity, such as slides or double stops, can help you focus on mastering the basic melody before adding in the more advanced elements.
🎼 Good Is Better Than Perfect
They say that “Good is better than perfect” and “Perfect is the enemy of good.” (Who are they? How did they become so wise?)
You never get to perfect. So trying for perfect is always disappointing. But you can make something better every time you practice.
We’re talking about having a good attitude. You show up everyday, make things a little better, and have fun along the way.
“One of the best bits of advice is to set things up so that you are constantly seeing concrete signs of improvement, even if it is not always major improvement.” -Anders Ericsson, Peak
By training yourself to have positive practice experiences and approaching practice with a growth mindset, you can get good at getting good at the fiddle.
For paid subscribers, here’s a group lesson on this (May 8, 2023): Improving A New Song Workshop