All-level Challenge

🎻 Overview of the Challenge

Let’s come together to learn and master a new song! This challenge is designed to guide you through the step-by-step process of learning a song, and culminates in an optional performance.

Here are the basic steps:

  1. Pick a song to learn.
  2. Learn and practice it with the Learn A New Song Routine (see it in the tab below).
  3. Perform it on January 29: either attend the Zoom meet-up, or make a video.

Whether you’re a beginner or an advanced player, this challenge is an exciting opportunity to improve your skills, boost your confidence, and connect with fellow fiddlers.

Song Selection Guide

The easiest way to start is by picking a new song from the FiddleHed course that matches your current level. Head over to your current module page and choose either a Core or Bonus tune. This tailored selection ensures you pick a song that’s just right for your skill level.

You can also learn a song outside FiddleHed. Not sure if it’s the right skill level? If so, just email me, telling me your skill level (what course module you’re in) and the song (include sheet music and audio/video links if possible).

Sign up for the Challenge

This community challenge ended January 29. It was a lot of fun and helped people progress. We will do it again!

Remember that you can do this challenge on your own at any time.

Learn-A-New-Song Routine

This “practice journey” can be applied to any new song, regardless of skill level. Whether you’re a beginner working on Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star or a more advanced player adding variation to Wagon Wheel, I encourage you to apply this to songs you’re currently learning.

Note: I use “Song” as a general term for “tune”, “piece”, “repertoire” etc.

1. Warm Up ☀️

Warm up with a single note using a drone track or metronome. Let the body relax, enjoying the sound. Then play the scale for the song. Add simple variations: RhythmsTexture and Volume.

2. Listen 🎧

Listen to the whole song. Then listen to the beginning a few times.

3. Chain 🔗

Play the first note, the first two notes, continuing until you have the first musical Chunk. 

4. Slow Down 🐢

Pay attention to the motions as you play that Chunk. Make small adjustments so that the hands reach their destination with ease.

5. Loop 🔁

Play this chunk in a continuous Loop. Let it groove and flow as if it’s a complete melody.

6. Sing 🗣️

Sing the first Chunk. Alternate between singing and playing the first phrase (either the lyrics or non-lyrical vocals like “na” and “la”).

7. Memorize 🧠

Play the first Chunk until it’s memorized.

8. Repeat 🔄

Repeat steps 2-7 for the next chunk of the song.

9. Chain the Chunks 🔗

Chain the first two Chunks into a bigger piece. Repeat steps 2-9 until you have the whole song. Work on the transitions between parts.

10. Record & Reflect 🎙️ 📝

Make a short audio recording (1-2 minutes) after each session. It doesn’t have to be the full tune. Perhaps you just record a loop of the hardest part. Listen to it right after you record it.

Then ask yourself, “What has improved? What still needs work?” Take note of this in your practice journal.

Take A Small Step 🥾

You don’t have to learn the entire song in one go. Focus on mastering small segments. Celebrate each small step.

Learn more from here: Learn A New Song – Journey

Do you have performance anxiety? If so, read this post: How To Overcome Stage Fright?

Schedule & Logistics

Monday Jan. 22, 3 PM ET – Coaching Session

We’ll meet on Zoom to practice the songs we’re learning. Jocelyn and Jason will be available to meet with students in breakout rooms to coach and answer your questions.

Thursday Jan. 25, 2 PM ET – Coaching Session

Practice your song during the weekly open practice session. I’ll be available for questions and coaching in breakout rooms or through the chat.

Monday Jan. 29, 3 PM ET – Performance

Zoom Login Info

Here’s a rough idea of how the Performance will go. I’ll talk about the video option below.

1. Pre-Performance Warmup

Relax & Focus: Start with some calming breathing exercises and gentle stretching.

Warmup: Play one note, then a simple scale, focusing on producing a good sound.

Final Practice: Spend 5 minutes going over your tune on your own.

2. Performances

Everyone gets a chance to perform their tune or song. If it’s a fiddle tune, I encourage you to play it more than once. This gives you a chance to get in the groove.

Duration: ideally 3-5 minutes.

I encourage you to not play while others are performing.

3. Post-Performance Reflection

After the performance, we’ll have a session where students can discuss their experiences and learn from each other.

🎥 Video Option

If you’re unable to attend, or just don’t feel ready, you can instead make a video. If you feel like sharing, please do it on this page in a comment below.

You can also share a progress video if you’re performing.


Student Performances!

Big congrats to everyone who performed or posted video!

Performance Highlight Video

Full Performance


Your Feedback

Was the challenge fun or helpful for you? If so, please take a few minutes to give me ​feedback​ so we can continue to refine these communal learning experiences. Thanks 🙏

Questions or need guidance? Feel free to reach out!

📧 Email Me

Enjoy each step of this challenge!

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Leave a Reply

74 responses to “Learn-A-New-Song Challenge | January 2024

  1. I’m sorry for posting late..I had some computer issues earlier today. I’ve been working on memorizing chords and getting comfortable with the train beat or hoedown, which has lead me to decide on learning the backup for “Squirrel Hunter”. It is a lot of fun to play along to the melody and I think it’s helped me rhythmically.

    1. Thanks for sharing, Kayli. I resonate well with this. This is vital work in rhythm practise and following along with others playing. Your bowing patterns, rhythm feeling and creating, as well as transitioning between double stops and single notes, are so lovely to experience. I really enjoy the violin utilized as a support instrument. Wondering who is playing in the melody track, is it you? Well done!

    1. Heartfelt applause for you, Ann 👏🏼 I love this Welsh tune, thanks for sharing it with us. The string crossing is thorough in this one, you did really well! Your tone shone through beautifully, and it was really nice to see you play for that length of time. 🎶

    1. Hi Don, I also really enjoyed this video of you playing. Such a great tune and you have learnt it thoroughly! I love the range of notes this song holds, you carried the tune great 🎶
      Great points other folks made with relating to your sound experience. If you are only hearing that sound through the recording, then yea it’s likely related to how the sound is coming through the electronics. If you have the opportunity to try moving your mic onto a ledge or stand where the mic can be closer to the level of where your violin sound is directly coming out of instrument, that may help? Be interesting to hear what you try. I like what Kayli mentioned about getting advice from someone who has that experience, and somehow showing them your setup as well as trying out a different setup to see if that changes the outcome.
      Sometimes I get different sounds produced through my instrument when something attached to violin is a bit loose (chin rest tighteners, fine tuning peg loose, loose screws on shoulder rest, etc).
      Here’s a good example of someone who has their mic positioned nicely from their fiddle:

  2. Definitely had planned to participate, but an appointment got changed and I will be on the road. Here is a YouTube link… I hope that is the right way to do that. I’ve never done a video on YouTube before.

    1. Lovely! I’ve had that sound happen in recordings before seems to me like sometimes I’m too close to the phone mic and repositioning in the room has helped before. Learning how to record audio can be a challenge on its own! It’s helped me to reach out to someone who understands music equipment much better than me. Thanks for your song, I enjoyed it very much.

  3. I will upload a recording on Saturday. Sunday I am heading north into the mountains for the week. Cell service is spotty, but will join in and play along if able. I was hoping to have my wife back me up on guitar but she hasn’t had the time to work that out. ( a novice player who hasn’t really played much for many years)

  4. I won’t be able to make the meeting tonight (Spanish time!) So here’s my progress so far on Crazy Creek! Still some mistakes, & I have some trouble with the transitions on the B part so I’m using chaining to practice

  5. I’m not much good with Internet stuff! Also, I’m a bit shy. I love playing and have recently found a couple of ladies to play with. One of them has requested that we play the above tune. Maybe I’ll post something a bit further down the line!

    1. Hey Julia, thanks for sharing~ your openness to expressing your experiences is awesome. What song are you speaking of? That’s great you have some folks to share playing music with in person. Be lovely to hear you play someday! 🎶 Happy fiddling to you

  6. Okay! I got the whole tune, mostly; here I am playing it against Serena’s playalong. I didn’t notice that the camera had slipped until I had played this over and over about 20 times, and then I was too tired–well, lazy, really–to reshoot it. But you can see the important thing, which is the bowing, and you can hear the important thing, which is the intonation, so okay.

    I sort of feel obligated to do it the way Serena is doing it, but if I ever performed this, I wouldn’t do it quite this way. I’d do it with the double stop at the end of the A2 and I wouldn’t do that (to me) goofy quad-stop thing at the beginning of B1 and B2. Maybe it sounds better at speed, but it just grates on me when I hear it, hmm….

  7. I’m going to learn Wayfaring Stranger, but I’m going to play it in A dorian instead of E dorian of the FH lesson. I guess I’ll really learn it in D, then just play it one string higher to be in A!

  8. Annnnnndd here’s the third day for me for ‘Wheel Hoss.’ I’m moving on to the B part, which is quite a bit harder than the A part.

    This is only the first half of B. Serena starts it off with a quadruple stop–I’m doing it the way she’s doing it because she knows the tune and I don’t, BUT I would never play a quadruple stop in front of, you know, actual people. It sounds awful to my ear, and since it is a melody note, the listener needs to hear it as a NOTE, not as…whatever it is.

    Anyway, most of what I’m doing here in this short segment is to match her bowing, but it does occur to me to wonder why it’s okay to lumberjack it here and it wasn’t okay to lumberjack it in the A part, but…whatever. It does sound good at speed when Serena plays it (even the quad stop is a little less awful-sounding), so as I say, I’ll do it the way she does it, at least for now.


    1. Hey Wayne, love your videos and funny comments there. I had never heard the word lumberjack before.
      So I am learning some English too. I like your song and I already tried a bit. But for now I have to focus on mine.
      Keep on going!

  9. ‘Wheel Hoss,’ Part A only for bowing. Here’s a short segment of the 20ish minutes I spent doing this tonight in order to get a feel for the Georgia Shuffle bowing. I’m working here against a small portion of Serena Eades’ most excellent tutorial for this tune; the only thing I much care about here is that my bowing is aligned with hers. Yep.

  10. Hello, folks! I’ll be using this time to deal with that good old tune by the great Bill Monroe, ‘Wheel Hoss.’

    Some of you know me, I’m the banjo player who is learning some tunes on the fiddle so I can take a fiddle with me on my upcoming northbound hike of the Appalachian Trail starting March 15 of this year.

    I’m taking a Magic Fluke ‘Cricket’ travel fiddle, which uses a 3/4th-length bow and fits comfortably in a 5-inch document tube. I’ve had it about a year now, I’ve played it a lot, and I’ve clunked it up and down trails on my backpack and it seems to tolerate that pretty well.

    I’ve been working on fiddle for a year or so now, I can play a few tunes: ‘Red-Haired Boy,’ ‘Kitchen Girl,’ ‘The Cuckoo’s Nest,’ ‘The Sailor’s Hornpipe,’ that sort of thing. I found myself being interested in Irish-slash-Cape Breton-type tunes lately, so I’ve been working on things like ‘Gaspe Reel,’ ‘King of the Fairies,’ and ‘Road of Lisdoonvarna.’ None of these are especially hard, but like so much of this stuff, I do find it hard to do well.

    You can see a bunch of clips of me working on tunes–and about 10,000 photographs of my recently departed and much missed dog–on my Insta, @tophatbanjo, or on my YT channel, ‘tophatbanjo.’ Yep.