Hey Good People, I’m going to show you how to use FiddleHed. 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 youhow 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.
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?
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…
Here is a quick way for you to access the essential practice tools you need. Under each tab you'll find play-along tracks, tabs and condensed teachings to help you as you practice. This is an evolving idea, so let me know in a comment below if it could be better.
Here's a newer version of the Notefinder which is based on sheet music. If you're interested in learning to read, this will be an invaluable reference. I'll be posting lessons on this in 2020.
Note: the brackets indicate notes that are the same pitch but spelled differently. For example, AH3 (D#) sounds the same as AL4 (Eb). Without going into too much teory detail here, this will be determined by the key of the tune or piece you are playing.
Here's he original table version of the Notefinder. Sometimes people learn in different ways...
Sawmill tuning Notefinder
This is used to find notes in Sawmill tuning (when the G string is tuned up to A and the D string is tuned up to E). If you're a beginner...best to ignore this! Learn more about sawmill tuning in the Appalachian Fiddle course.
Here are some common scales used in fiddle tunes. Each runs through a series of variations: two bows legato, two bows staccato, four bows, tucka (4 shorts, two longs), hoedown (1 long, two shorts), throwaway bow, triplets, tremolo.
G Major, starting on D3
Practice a tune with its scale (Kerry Polka is in G major, so practice a G major scale). Practice scales before, during and after practicing tunes.
Always return to a good sound, even if it means playing quarter notes on the D string. You can do this! You just have to remember to pause on practicing the challenging thing and just get a good sound on single notes.
Why do this? Because it will bring you deep joy. And it will build your confidence which will inspire further practice.