How to Use FiddleHed
Hey there 👋, I will gradually be updating this page with short instructional videos on how to use FiddleHed (small steps, small wins 😀). Is there something you don’t understand about the site? If so, just email me. Cheers!
New tutorials on how to use the site
FiddleHed Site Tour
Here’s a video tutorial to help you navigate the site. I’ll talk through the main elements of the home page as well as the menus.
Where should I start in the course?
If you’re an absolute beginner, then just start with Start Fiddling Now (Module 1.1).
In the text below, I’ll give you a rough breakdown of the skills and techniques learned in each part of the course. If you’ve already started to learn, you may have to do a little trial-and-error to find the best starting point.
I suggest erring on the side of starting with more “beginner” lessons. The word “beginner” is in quotes because you can always approach learning as a beginner.
In each module, I’ve selected tunes that help you practice the skill you just learned.
Modules 1.1 through 1.5.
At each step of the way you’ll learn tunes that help you practice the specific techniques you’re working on:
- The first, second and third left-hand finger positions for the G, D, A, and E strings.
- How to play in tune using drones.
- Ear training with call-and-response exercises
- Tone-building exercises
- Transposing tunes to other strings
- Pentatonic Scales
- How to practice
- Maybe the most important thing you’ll learn from FiddleHed
Modules 1.6 through 1.10:
- The slur
- This is bowing more than one note per bow. You’ll practice different slur patterns in each module: slur two, slur three, slur four, slur two-separate two.
- Singing and playing
- Pedal exercises
- This is a progressive series of left-hand exercises.
- Low second finger
- D, E and A Dorian scales
- The upper octave of the G Major scale and C Major scale
- Transposing tunes to other octaves
Modules 2.1 through 2.4
Moving on to the Intermediate course. These are the big things you’ll learn:
- Fourth finger (pinky)
- Advanced fingering and string crossing
- Double stops (playing two strings at once)
- Simple chords
- Low first finger
- F Major scale
Modules 2.5 through 2.9:
- Low fourth finger
- B flat Major, Upper Octave
- Chord progressions and comping
- Double stop scales
- Minor triads
- Raised Third Finger
- A Major Scale, Lower Octave
- Chromatic Scale
- How to Build Chords
For a more detailed breakdown, view the Beginner and the Intermediate course pages. And for an even more detailed breakdown, view the individual module pages. For example, on the 1.2 Lingering with Fingering page, you’ll see a listing of core lessons and practice. This can help you to figure out if you need to take these lessons.
If you’re still unsure where to start, just email me. I’ll do my best to find a good starting place for you in the course.
What's the difference between core and bonus lessons?
How fast should I move through the course? Is it self-paced?
The FiddleHed course is designed to be self-paced.
Some folks are absolute beginners and need more time. Others who have previous experience learning music may find they need less time.
Generally speaking, most students tend to rush, both in how fast they play new tunes as well as how fast they move through the course. I wrote an article about this: The Ultimate Beginner Pitfall.
That said, I suggest you spend about three weeks learning and practicing the lessons in each module. There are nineteen modules in the main course (Beginner: 1.1-1.9, Intermediate 2.1-2.9). Here’s a suggested weekly practice plan from module 1.3:
The idea is not to hold you back but to help you get established in good practice and the technique fundamentals. If you do this, then you ultimately will be able to learn more quickly and will enjoy your fiddle journey more.
How to send a private message to other folks in the FiddleHed Network
We have a new feature on the site that creates a social network within Fiddlehed. I made a tutorial video on how it works.
The most important thing to know is how to send a private message to other fiddleheads. This will allow you to support each other, share videos, and form your own practice groups on zoom.
Here’s an example of how others have formed their own online practice group: Fiddling with friends online.
Tired of seeing the weird emoji next to your name?
You can change that on your profile page. I show how to do this in the video above. You can also change your profile background. And similar to Facebook, you can make friend requests to other fiddlehead folks.
As you can see, there are other similar features as Facebook…but no annoying ads 🤠
How do I download content?
You may want to download content if you are going to go somewhere without internet access. Or you might want to download audio to your phone so you can easily listen in the car.
Watch this instructional video and/or read text instructions below.
To download audio, R
- Right-click on the red arrow to the left of any audio track. It will turn green when the cursor hovers over it.
- You should see a pop-up menu. Click on “Download linked file”.
- The audio will be found in your downloads folder.
Download sheet music
To download sheet music:
- Scroll down the page until you see the full sheet music.
- Click the PDF link below that.
- Select the download button to the right.
- Find the downloaded sheet music in your downloads folder.
- Return to fiddling!
Right now, only newer videos have a download link.
How to change the speed of a video
Did you know that you can change the speed of videos?
- Hover the cursor over the settings wheel.
- You’ll see a popup window.
- Click Playback speed.
You can choose a pre-set speed. I recommend starting with 0.75 for learning parts of fiddle tunes.
By clicking custom in the top right corner, you can play back the video or loop at the tempo which is most helpful to you in your practice. Awesome new Youtube update 🥳.
Can the playback speed be changed on any Youtube video?
The answer is…🥁… Yes.
What are good tunes for an intermediate student to learn?
Here’s some guidance for you to get rolling with FiddleHed as an intermediate(ish) student. Start by reviewing these tunes from the Beginner course:
If these are hard, then learn more tunes in modules 1.6 – 1.10 (or earlier). If they are easy, then explore these key tunes from the Intermediate course:
- Hobart’s Transformation (fourth finger practice)
- Southwind (low first finger)
- Blackberry Blossom (melodic variation)
- Kerry Polka – Backup Chords
- Berdichiever Khosid (low fourth finger)
- Kerry Polka – Adding Double Stops
- Ashokan Farewell (raised third finger)
- Peacock Rag (chromatic scale)
If you want to learn more advanced versions of these then check out these modules:
In these courses, you’ll learn how to add variation to these tunes, how to play them in alternate tunings and generally how to approach music in a creative way.
Also, check out the Art of Fiddling lessons. These teach more advanced variations and techniques. There’s a good series called How To Make Scales Fun which shows you how to deepen the practice of scales in an enjoyable way.
How can I upload a video to the site?
I’m going to show you how to upload video to the website. You’ll be able to add video as a comment or to the forum. Here’s the basic process:
- Upload a video to your own Youtube channel.
- Copy the link to a comment on any FiddleHed page.
Why do I want to do this?
Uploading video other people, including me, to support you in your fiddle journey. We can help each other by sharing challenges, asking questions and cheerleading. It’s part of my efforts to create a community of fiddle students.
What are the main steps?
In order to upload video, you’ll need to do the following main steps. I’ll go into more specific detail for each step below.
- Create a Youtube channel.
- Upload video to Youtube.
- Copy the link from Youtube, then paste it to a comment or forum on FiddleHed.
I will do my best to explain this with screen videos and text. But if something does not make sense or work, PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW.
How to create a Youtube channel
- Sign in to YouTube on a computer or using the mobile site.
- Try any action that requires a channel, such as uploading a video, posting a comment, or creating a playlist.
- If you don’t yet have a channel, you’ll see a prompt to create a channel.
- Check the details (with your Google Account name and photo) and confirm to create your new channel.
How to upload a video to Youtube
- Sign in to YouTube and your desired channel.
- Tap the camera at the top of the home page.
- Record a new video or select an existing one to upload.
- To record a new video: Tap the video camera icon and begin recording.
- To select an existing video: Use the gallery to select your video.
- Apply optional enhancements to your video and tap Next.
- Adjust your video’s title, description, and privacy settings. You can have a title up to 100 characters and a description up to 5,000 characters.
- I recommend setting the video to “Unlisted” under the description. If you set it to public than anyone can discover and watch it. Which is fine…just want you to know how it works.
- Tap Upload.
How to post a YouTube video to FiddleHed
The essential steps:
- Go to the video on your Youtube channel.
- Click the “share” button, which is below the video on the right.
- Click the “Copy link” button all the way to the left.
- Paste this to a comment or forum post. This is what the link looks like when you first paste it: https://youtu.be/2kZASM8OX7s. After you hit the “Post comment button” it will look like this:
If you get stuck at any point in the process, just email us. Thanks!
How to set up a student group using the FiddleHed network
For those of you who have formed your own groups, you can communicate and form your own forums using this student group feature. You can make your groups private or public. I go a little bit into this in the video below.
How to set up a Facebook chat room
FiddleHed Tom was kind enough to put together this pdf which explains how to do this. This might help you to more easily get together with other fiddlers and form online student groups.
You can watch the instructional video which includes screencasts of how the site works. You can also read the text on this page which summarizes the points from the video.
Tunes, techniques and concepts are presented in a progressive, step-by-step manner. Though it’s a highly structured course, you have always have the option to choose which tunes you work on as you learn new techniques. FiddleHed will encourage you to approach fiddling with focused, deliberate practice so that you can successfully make music and have fun doing it.
A Modular Progressive Course
The course is organized into three levels: Beginner, Intermediate and Art of Fiddling.
Within each level there are modules that contain lessons. And the lessons contain videos, tabs, play-along tracks, practice notes and sheet music.
In each module, we will define some goals:
There’s a weekly practice plan to help you stay focused:
The technique lessons are closely integrated with the tunes lessons. For example, in Module 1.3, the main technique learned is the D major scale. And so the tunes in this module, like Oh Susannah and Wildwood Flower, are picked because they are great practice for learning the D major scale.
Within each module you will learn core tunes which will be used throughout the course, as well as bonus tunes.
For example, Oh Susannah is a core tune because it is re-visited in a later intermediate lesson on how to add double stops to the song.
I recommend you work within one module for 2-3 weeks. Even if you think you’ve mastered all the material, you can probably make the tunes sound even better with more practice.
When you are done with a lesson, you’ll mark it as complete. You’ll then be able to see your progress in the module:
And on the main module page you’ll see completed lessons are checked off:
Tune lessons start with an easy-to-follow video lesson. Most of these have handy diagrams to help you learn the left hand fingering:
Below that are tabs and play-along tracks for you to practice with.
You’ll notice that some of the tabs are colored. Parts that are repeated are the same color. This makes it easier for you to understand the “road map” of a tune and memorize it more easily. The goal is to get you playing and enjoying music as soon as possible. Learn more about this in the lesson Repeating Patterns in Fiddle Tunes.
Highly extensive play-along tracks are the core feature of FiddleHed. There are three types: exercise loops, full play-along tracks and drone tracks.
Exercise loops are used to continuously practice key parts of a tune at different speeds. This is an amazing way for you to practice and get to the point where you can play with musical flow. The exercise loops also train you how to practice, because they get you in the habit of focusing on small parts until you can play them with confidence. And learning how to practice is perhaps the most valuable teaching I have to offer, because with that you can continue to learn on your own.
First quarter: D2-2-2-1-0-2-3-A0-1-2-3
There are full-length play along tracks in which you’ll play the entire tune at five different speeds.
There are drone tracks on all tune pages. A drone is a repeating reference tone. You can use this to practice scales, tunes and exercises at any speed you wish.
Another great use of the drone tracks is to practice new fingerings and notes you’ve learned. For example, say you are learning low second finger on the D string (which is an F note). Playing along with the F drone track will help you to play better in tune. Learn more here:
In the tune lessons, you will find warm-up exercises to prepare you for the challenges of the tune.
Near the bottom of each tune page is sheet music for those who know how to read, or for those who are learning to read. You can either read right off the page, or download and print a pdf file.
Technique lessons will teach you the basic tools you need to play the fiddle: bowing, fingering and the combinations of the two. Each technique lesson is followed by a page of exercise loops which will focus your practice in a way that’s fun and immediate.
A major scale variations, 80 bpm
You can practice these exercises with the play along tracks. Once you get the idea, you can practice the same exercises with drone tracks at your pace and add variations of your own.
In the main top menu you’ll find the Library dropdown sub-menu. Here you’ll find pages of tunes organized by genre. Browsing through the tune lessons will help you to determine what tunes you need to review as well as what tunes you want to learn.
In addition to the genre pages, there are useful libraries of play-along tracks for scales, beats, and drones.
- Drone Central
- A collection of practice drones in all twelve keys, with and without a beat
- Scale Central
- An easy way for you to find scales you are learning or reviewing
- Beat Central
- A collection of cool beats that are fun to play along with
FiddleHed emphasizes deliberate practice
It’s key to make the best use of your time when you play. FiddleHed is an incremental approach which teaches the powerful practice tools of drone practice, looping and self-recording. Want to transform your practice sessions so that they’re fun and productive?
Here is a mini-course called: How To Practice Fiddling.
You’ll also find these practice lessons spread throughout the course:
How fast should I go?
I encourage you to move through the course slowly, focusing on making simple things sound good. You’ll find that having a really good sound is it’s own reward. It will give you confidence and encourage you to keep on keeping on, day in and day out.
Remember, the most important thing is to have fun. Fun is not overrated! Also, remember that you are a musician if you play every day.
Now, go fiddle with it…