If you want to get better at the fiddle or whatever skill you are learning, then you should find a good teacher if possible.
A good teacher will:
- Point out your weaknesses and create exercises for you to work on those things.
- Get you to play slower.
- Correct your form.
- Motivate you to practice.
- Teach you practice skills.
- Challenge you.
- Play with you so you can experience making music with another person.
- Keep you going when you get into a rut.
You may not be able to tell what is difficult for you. And you may not know how to best practice difficult parts. A good teacher will help you to analyze your playing and create exercises to practice the difficult parts.
A good teacher will do is SLOW YOU DOWN. Almost all beginners play tunes too fast. They also learn new tunes too fast, moving on to newer tunes before they’ve gotten anywhere with the tune they’re working on. A good teacher will tell you to hold off on learning “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” before you are ready. You won’t waste time and energy and risk getting discouraged. When you are ready, they will show it to you.
A good teacher will correct your form and technique. You might be able to do this on your own if you carefully study videos, practice in front of a mirror and video yourself. But most students don’t do this enough. Even if you do, there may some crucial little thing you are missing that an in person teacher can enlighten for you.
People are more motivated to practice if they take lessons. Partly because they want to avoid showing up and having to admit that they didn’t practice and come up with excuses. Also, it’s a waste of money to be paying for the lessons and then not practicing.
A teacher will help you develop good practice skills: how to focus on difficult parts, how to practice with looping, how to listen, how to use a drone, how structure your practice sessions, etc. They will get you to practice difficult parts repetitively and offer creative approaches to repetition.
Probably the thing that cannot be replaced by youtube lessons is the experience you have making music with a teacher (assuming they do that, which I do in private lessons). You have to put in a lot of work to play your instrument. But then you get the reward of actually playing music, which is extremely fun and which pushes you to practice more.
How to find a teacher
First try to be clear with what you want to learn and what you want to do. Make a fiddle tune bucket list of tunes, songs and styles you want to learn. Ask some questions:
Do I want to play with others?
Do I want to be in a band?
How much time will I have to devote to this?
This will help you find a teacher and help your teacher to guide your practice.
In a previous article, Be Your Own Teacher, I offered some ideas on how you can accelerate your learning even if you don’t have a teacher. A lot of people people out there may not have access to a good fiddle or violin teacher. Or they can’t afford it. So they have to find ways to implement all the practices I already mentioned in this article. If you are motivated and you learn how to practice well you can do it on your own. A lot of FiddleHed is devoted to showing you how to practice.
Even if you have a teacher, you can be your own teacher when you are practicing on your own. Ask questions. Record and listen to yourself. Challenge yourself. Cheer yourself on. Yay!