Advanced Beginner

Overview

 

Here’s a new kind of lesson experience that I call a “Fiddle Meditation.” Think of it as a musical yoga routine.

We’ll slowly explore “Simple Gifts” through call-and-response with a G drone.


Takeaways

Relax body, breath and mind. This improves your performance of the tune, but also makes the learning process wayyyyy more enjoyable.

Engage the body through movement, singing and clapping.

Creatively practice the challenging chunks of a tune. Some techniques we’ll use:

  • Chaining
  • Looping
  • Extracting the Rhythm
  • Staccato/Legato
  • Slow/Fast

Music is a spiritual practice.We can set some intentions:

  • Frame this as meditation.
  • Be kind to yourself as you practice. This blossoms into kindness for other people you meet.
  • Actively practice gratitude.

Video Replay

☝️ Tip: Click the “picture-in-picture” icon on the lower right-hand corner of the video player to watch it as you scrolll through the outline and content below.


Let’s practice!

Prepare for the journey

Listen to the song in advance

Here’s the version we’ll do in the workshop:Β Simple Gifts

 

Learn, Review & Practice:

Outline

Let’s Learn

What’s a new skill you want to improve?

Use this tune to work on that.

Mindset: Mastery ⛰️

Practice a small piece until you can do it effortlessly (which is different then perfectly).

G drone

 

Warm up β˜€οΈ

Single note warmup

Open G string medium length notes, breathing

  • Add double stop D0

D3

  • Throw-away bow
  • Volume Swells
    • Crescendo (only up), 32 x 8th notes
    • Crescendo & Decrescendo (up and down)
  • Textures
    • Staccato
    • Tremolo
    • Plucking
    • Bouncing

Scale

All notes for this song: D0-2-3-A0-1-L2-3

Chaining ⛓️

One by one we’ll chain the first few notes. We’ll pause once we have the first chunk. Think of a chunk as the first repeatable melodic unit.

Chaining first half of A part:

(D0-0)-D3-3-A0-1-D3-A1-L2

End each link with throw-away bow

Looping πŸ”

Play this chunk in a continuous loop:

Let’s move to the A Part, Second Quarter and repeat the process.

A Part, Second Quarter: A0-0-0-D3-A0-1-0-D2-0-0-0

Chain the notes of the next chunk. Then loop on that chunk.

Loop on different lengths of chain

Some will be “crooked” (not in multiples of 2)

  • D3-3-A0-1 (3-beat)
  • D3-3-A0-1-D3-A1-L2-3 (5-beat)

A Part, Second Quarter: A0-0-0-D3-A0-1-0-D2-0-0-0

Mastery

Work on the first half you can do it effortlessly (which is different then perfectly).

If you can’t do it effortlessly, then loop on a subsection.

Give thanks for the flowing sound you achieve.

Sing What You Play πŸ—£οΈ

Singing helps you form a mental model of the song. Allow it to feel good in your body. The ultimate goal is to sing with your instrument.

Rinse & Repeat πŸ”„

We’ll use the same steps to learn the other chunks.

  • A Part, Third Quarter
  • A Part, Fourth Quarter
  • A Part, Second Half
  • B Part, First Quarter
  • B Part, Second Quarter
  • B Part, First Half

Backwards Chaining ⛓️

As you learn new parts in a song, work your way backwards.

For example:

  • Learn bars 1-2
  • Learn bars 3-4
  • Play bars 1-4
  • Learn bars 5-6
  • Play bars 3-6
  • Play bars 1-6

There’s lots of subtle variations for this practice.

Takeaways

Relax body, breath and mind. This improves your performance of the tune, but also makes the learning process wayyyyy more enjoyable.

Engage the body through movement, singing and clapping.

Creatively practice the challenging chunks of a tune. Some techniques we’ll use:

  • Chaining (forwards and backwards)
  • Looping
  • Staccato/Legato
  • Slow/Fast

Music is a spiritual practice.

We can set some intentions:

  • Frame this as meditation.
  • Be kind to yourself as you practice. This blossoms into kindness for other people you meet.
  • Actively practice gratitude.

Reflect πŸ‘οΈ

What was challenging about this? πŸ§—πŸ½β€β™€οΈ

What did you learn? Try to put it into your own words. 🧠

Think of another song you want to improve. How would you apply these same steps? πŸ“ˆ

Write down these and other reflections in your Your Practice Journal (also find this at the bottom of all lesson pages):

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πŸ‘‰ Tip: Scroll to the bottom of the page and mark this lesson as a Favorite. You’ll see it listed in the favorite tab in the “Practice Toolkit” section. This will remind you to take the journey again.

Further

Do it on your own

You’ll get the most out of this workshop if you do this routine on your own. Try it on other songs and skills. Experiment Β and personalize it. Share what you discover in a comment below.

Transpose ↗️

Once you memorize the tune, transpose it to other keys. This is an improvisational practice which re-invents the song. It also helps you to learn more deeply.

Start the melody on A0 and then use the same fingerings to play the tune in D. Use a D drone:

D drone

Start the melody on G0 and then use the same fingerings to play it in C Major. Use an C drone:

 


Add double stops

See the sheet music for this on this page:Β Simple Gifts

Practice Third Position

This is a good tune for third position practice. Shift your first finger up to the D3 position and play the whole thing in third position.

Practice Other Skills πŸ“ˆ

Use this song to practice other skills you’ve learned.

Here’s a big list. Don’t be overwhelmed 🀯. Start by practicing just one skill with the song.


Add Variation ❄️

Add variation to your practice of {song or skill}. This helps you learn by giving you a different perspective on the challenge. On the other hand, you also develop your creativity and have more fun as you improve.

Music Meditation - General Routine πŸ§˜πŸ½β€β™€οΈ

Music Meditation πŸ§˜πŸ½β€β™€οΈ

Hold your instrument without playing and listen to a DΒ Drone.

Breathe calmly, becoming aware of body, breath, mind and environment. Relax.

Next, play a single D note. Shift your attention between the drone and the sound you make. Then try to hear them together. Think, “This note is beautiful.” Aim to be relaxed and in the moment, not chasing perfection. 🎡

Keep going until its effortless, as if you’re just a witness. Now imagine you’re not the source of the musicβ€”you’re just the channel. Let Music do its thing. 🌌

Enjoy the sound and the how it feels. Let go of worries, memories, and hangups, imagining that you are one with that note.

Ready to level up? Maintain that zen feeling and try:

  • Two-note intervals 🎸
  • Scales 🎹
  • Song snippets 🎀
  • Whole songs 🎼

If tension creeps in, hit pause. Take a breather, then return to that single calming note. πŸ§˜β€β™‚οΈ

Drop into this meditative space at any point during your practice session. Even five minutes a day will radically alter how you approach and feel about making music. 🌈

A-ha moments?

Let us know in a comment below if you had any insights or if you came up with a unique way to practice this. We learn better together.


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Leave a Reply

2 responses to “Simple Gifts Fiddle Meditation

  1. Hi Jason, doing the lesson from recorded session. Just taking the time to relax and breath reminds me that I’m here for the enjoyment of playing without pressuring myself to learn x amount or x number of tunes in x time. I like viewing group lessons after they are recorded so I can take my time, repeat parts, take a break, etc. If I had been there live, I might have asked you to turn the drone sound down a notch so I could hear you better. Thanks, Susan