What’s helped you the most on your fiddle journey?

When I was college orchestra I sat in the last row of the viola section. I met with a student teacher who patiently helped me fumble through difficult music that I usually wasn’t excited about. This patient graduate student taught me the principle of Chunking. It was something I’d probably done unconsciously here and there. In a nutshell…

Don’t just run the the whole piece every time. Spend most of your time practicing the hard parts.

Mark up these parts on sheet music with a pencil ✏️. Or take note of them in your music journal 📓.

Slowly loop on those parts until it feels good in your body.

Years later, I still use this strategy on a daily basis.

What about you?

What single thing has helped you the most on your fiddle journey?

I’d love to hear what works for you in a comment below.

We learn better together 😍

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33 responses to “What’s helped you the most on your fiddle journey?

  1. Most recently the lesson on applying rhythms to scales. I was a very hard time keeping my bow hand wrist flexible, but as I practiced this scale lesson I could feel my fingers relax which made my wrist and fingers more flexible. I practice this every time play. This is a huge deal for me because I’ve been playing way too long with a rigid wrist.

  2. Finding your site has helped me the most. I love the play every day mantra. It has help me find joy and fun in the fiddle. I sincerely appreciate how every skill is broken down into small steps. Thank you so much all you have done to make this site so helpful!!

  3. Definitely the techniques taught on Fiddlehed. Also recording myself and listening to the playback is hard but well worth it. I’m also blessed with a great group of online friends through Fiddlehed who support and inspire me!

  4. Practice a 1000 times!
    OK maybe not exactly 1000 but repeating and especially as you say, the part I find the hardest. The playback samples on Fiddlehed are great for this, you can just play each quarter over & over until it’s in the memory & fingers!

  5. What has helped me the most is playing with and for others. Playing with others brings it all together for me. I’ve learned more about myself both as a learner and a musician.

    We do learn better together.

  6. YOU have helped me the most in my fiddle journey, Jason! Your infectious enthusiasm, which never seems to waiver, and i brilliant course modules which, you’ve devised ,make practice sessions a joy. I love it! I’ve said it before – one of the best things I ever did, was signing up to fFiddlehed.

  7. Covid! It motivated me to start playing with a friend down the road, first online and then outdoors in our community gardens and finally we still practice together and encourage each other, sharing music and ideas. One day we are going to go out busking….

  8. That is a really tough question because there are so many possible answers! Aside from finding Fiddlehed and signing up a couple years ago I think the looping on hard parts has helped me the most. I used to play tunes over and over and kind of skim through the parts that didn’t sound that good, hoping they’d eventually get better. I’ve learned to slow down, pick out the less than stellar sections, and patiently work on them.

    Lately I’ve been getting back to learning by ear instead of being dependent on sheet music and that is taking my practice/playing to a place that is harder but more satisfying.

  9. Call and response, making index cards as I work through the modules. I use a notice board where I can pin up up the cards relevant to my current practice, swapping them in and out. I’m amazed at the improvement in my ability to play by ear after being immersed in reading music most of my life. Now up to module 2.7, I find if I revisit an older tune and start in a different key, I can just keep going without even thinking about transposition, the intervals between the notes are embedded in my memory. Thanks Jason, your system of gradual skill building and kind encouragement really works!

  10. Encouragement.

    To instill courage by positive, well meaning comments; starting from the J-man, and from Jocelyn and from the Fiddlehed community and, last but not least from the “Strung Along” student group started by Jason.

  11. What helped greatly were the call-and-response videos! They’ve allowed me to become more familiar with the notes through listening, rather than seeing them on a sheet of music. Because of these videos, I’m much better at being able to listen to music (or just a tune that might be going through my head) and be able to play it!
    The only problem is I’ve done almost all of them and I’m going to have to go back and start again!

  12. Playing slowly for sure. Also, separating out a messy measure or string crossing and ‘working it’. But above all, playing along with your Tracks! Those have helped me a lot with intonation, something I am constantly working on.

    Thanks for all you do to help us in our fiddle journey.

  13. In terms of practice techniques, not just letting myself play slowly, but actually *savoring* the sound of playing slowly. And then with that, from the standpoint of emotional engagement, letting myself smile – sometimes even laugh – at those moments where I struggle (instead of getting frustrated and quitting).

  14. Over all the most helpful has been practice strategy. IE-play scale, play tune, different rhythm patterns, looping, chunking and really important—- record practice!!!!
    Practice difficult parts instead of parts you do well.

  15. I am super beginner at 55 yrs …. I played as a kid and then life happened …
    I listen to a tune in fiddle over and over then l I can try to duplicate what I am heard. It helps me try to find the right sound.
    A big help is watching YouTube Fiddlehed while sitting in the bathtub … Ha

  16. Straight bowing is my biggest problem since I didn’t work on it from day one. So the single thing that helps me the most is to use my web cam and computer screen to watch my bowing in exercises, record it looking and not looking, watch it when playing tunes, etc. This is better than using a mirror because I can record it and play sitting down.