A blog about music, practice and life with the occasional dad joke thrown in…



Are scales really necessary?

Somebody recently wrote me asking, “Are scales necessary to learn if all you play is old-time music?” The short answer is no …but scales will help you tremendously. And you might be surprised by how fun they can be. Maybe you had a bad experience with a draconian music teacher. And now you fear and despise … Continued


A FiddleHed named Bob wrote to say that after playing banjo for seven years, he became fascinated with what his fiddler pals were doing. “How on earth can those fiddle players do that?” he asked himself. “I decided I’d give it a try.” Hats off to you Bob! Though I haven’t learned banjo, I have studied … Continued

Play Every Thing Twice

A good rule of thumb is to play everything at least twice on the fiddle: scales, exercises, melodic phrases, and full tunes. Notice what happens the second time through Do your hands relax a bit? Can you listen more closely to what you’re playing? Does the mind relax? Can you move from thinking to playing? … Continued

What are the best scales to learn on the fiddle?

The better you know your scales, the more quickly you can pick up tunes. Scales don’t have to be torture.  There’s an art to making them fun. Practice them along with tunes that use that scale. Simply alternate between a tune and it’s scale. Then you’ll start to hear the scale in the tune. And you’ll hear … Continued

Fiddling With Flow

“Learning the fiddle is hard because there’s too much to remember all at once!”  I hear some variation on this a lot from people in comments and emails. As a student, it’s challenging to keep track of all the different things you have to do when playing the fiddle. Is the bow parallel to the … Continued