I recommend FiddlerShop for buying violins and bows online. They make good, affordable instruments and have a generous return policy. The fiddles are made overseas and then “set up” by hand at their workshop in Florida. And they are a family-run business.
Get something good that is also affordable. If you spend $100 on a violin, you’ll pay for it in frustration. It will be harder to learn. You may even give up and miss out having this gift of music in your life.
On the other hand, too many people obsess over which violin to buy. They miss a big point: you have to play the thing. If you have a $10,000 violin but barely pick it up, then it may as well be a $100 violin.
If you’re on a budget, I recommend something in the $300-400 range. Think of it as an investment. You’re investing in the peace and happiness that comes with music. You also might see some financial return. If you get into fiddling, you won’t waste money on other meaningless stuff.
This aids your left-hand position and helps you play with less tension.
Fiddlehed Jim W. had this to say about it:
“Just wanted to check in and update you on my left wrist issues and my experience with the wonder thumb device.
The wrist is feeling a lot better now that I’m not digging up root balls in the yard.
I’ve been using the wonder thumb for a couple of weeks. It is helping me with the death grip and really relaxing the whole left arm and hand. It’s also helping with better intonation and remembering to breath. Weird right? It’s also taught me that to play on the G and E strings comfortably and with less stress on the left wrist requires the left arm/elbow to move forward a little to get the G string and move to the rear a little to get to the E string. Hope that makes sense.
I think at $24 + shipping is well worth the money for how much it’s helping me. I’m going to give it 2 thumbs up. LOL
I’m very happy you and your student turned me onto this during the last office hours. I’ll keep you posted on how it goes in the next month or so.
This was a huge influence on me. It’s still refreshing to hear recordings in which the spirit of the performance is valued over perfected audio.
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Here's a newer version of the Notefinder which is based on sheet music.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.