Your first tune!

Thanks for practicing! I mean that. The more a student practices, the more fun it is for a teacher because we can make music together.

We’ll now learn how to play a tune called Bile ’em Cabbage Down.

I’ve probably played this tune thousands of times, but when a new student gets it to flow with good sound, it still brings me joy.

Learning Chunks™

In the FiddleHed course, tunes are broken down into quarters. I then systematically prepare you for each quarter with warm-ups. I want you to slowly learn each little thing well. These small wins will set you up for the bigger win of playing the whole tune.

Play each quarter until it flows easily. If you do that, then putting together the rest of the tune will be much easier. Have fun!!! 

Play along track – full tune

Practice the whole tune with this play-along track. It will speed up.

First quarter: D2-2-2-2 3 3

Second quarter: D2-2-2-2 1 1

Third quarter: D2-2-2-2 3 3

Fourth quarter: D2-2-1-1 0 0

Play along track – full tune, no fiddle

I recommend trying this play-along track after you’ve thoroughly practiced the one above. There is no fiddle in the track to play along with, so it’s a little more challenging.

Sing, then play

Learning and singing the lyrics will help you to learn and remember the tune.

Bile ’em cabbage down

Bake them hoecakes brown

The only song that I can sing is

Bile ’em cabbage down

You can also practice the whole tune at your own pace with a D drone:

Practice can be approached as a game. If practicing is fun, then you’ll want to keep playing forever. Try playing your first tune in different ways:

  • Play it very quietly, like a whisper. Then play it loudly.
  • Play it very slowly, then play it fast.
  • Try to sing a line, then pluck it on the fiddle.

Full sheet music

I include full sheet music for those who can already read and for those who are learning to read. If you are an absolute beginner, I suggest you don’t worry about note-reading just yet. Focus on getting a good sound.


Sheet music video

Learn to intuitively read sheet music with this animated video. If you’re an absolute beginner, then I suggest you don’t worry about fo it for the moment.

This is here for continuing students who want to learn about sheet music. It’s part of the Note-Reading For Fiddlers course.

OK, awesome work. In the next series of lessons, you will integrate bowing with fingering, learn another tune and continue to make the fiddle an extension of your voice.

Continue to Putting It All Together >>

Return to top of Module 1.1 >>

Leave a Reply

13 responses to “Bile ’em Cabbage Down

  1. I have a question about the sheet music. The notes are correct, but the letters above them do not correspond with the notes being played or the strings, what are the letters supposed to indicate? I feel like I’m missing something really obvious …

  2. I’m having fun playing this tune and am proud that it kind of sounds like music! I start out sounding good but by the end of the tune my bow is wandering back to the bridge. I’m sure it’s like patting your head and rubbing your tummy, I just need to concentrate on bow, strings and sound all at the same time. Thanks for making the lessons fun and easy to understand for a “senior” beginner like me!

  3. I’ve been enjoying this lesson series so much! However, I’m noticing especially in this exercise that the sound of my fiddle becomes increasingly strangled and buzzy as I move up the scale with fingering. I also find myself accidentally hitting adjacent strings much more often with fingering than I ever did on open strings. I’ll admit that I’m not working with top of the line equipment and the tone problems may have something to do with that, but is there something I can practice to help keep a robust sound even on those F sharps and Gs?

    1. Hi myArmCanFly,

      Do you have finger tape on the fiddle? If so, that can cause buzzing with plucking.

      If that’s not the case, then try to isolate each note to see if you can work out the kinks. Then play intervals like D1-2, D2-3.