4 responses to “jasonkleinberg

  1. Sounds like an amazing adventure, a great journey in self exploration as well as enjoying new dimensions in fiddling and working. Enjoy every moment – how long are you in beautiful Ireland for? Where are you heading after Ireland? Will you be visiting England?

  2. I’m loving practicing the Ballydesmond Polka. Doesn’t exactly sound cheerful yet -more like a dirge at this point but I hope to get up to speed soon. I’m enjoying the play along track. I’m also practicing using my pinkie which has its own will. Thanks for the lessons!

  3. I am certainly not where I want to be yet, but I think I have made great strides, thanks in large part to access to your teaching when I make time to, day-to-day. I am so happy you have lessons laid out as you do now, and that you provide the various tracks to practice the songs piece by piece. Thank you!!

  4. Sitting in my garden I can hear my wind chimes, birds singing, a lady singing a strange operatic fashion, crickets and someone cutting the grass. I like my garden. Soon if you listen very carefully you will hear someone putting the kettle on. I hope….Symphony of my garden…….

  5. Right now, I have the symphony of an old XP computer, which crashes a lot but I keep it around because it runs Photoshop 7. I’d never noticed the sound of that XP computer before. . . . My Mac Mini is quiet; no symphony there.

    But at night, its a different story. I walk with 2 dogs up the hill and the cat follows. The symphony up there is always exciting – birds and other far-off dogs mostly, but after a while, we usually we hear the deer in the woods – they stomp and snort – I love that sound! Sometimes we also get treated to another symphony after the cat eats a bunch of grass, and uh oh, here comes the hairball! If one or both dogs needs to go out in the middle of the night (frequently, usually around 3am), the symphony is of crickets and is particularly superb!

  6. Right now I am listening to a symphony called “Rainy Summer Night Next to the Fan”. What I hear is an oscelating fan set on medium speed. My window is open and there is a steady drip from a light shower outside. I am in a rocking chair that creaks occasionally as I find it impossible to sit still. I also hear the far off sounds of cars down on main street, probably going faster than the speed limit. Now my cat, impatient with me just sitting here tapping away at this silly box that isn’t a very good cheek scratcher, meows at me to get up and give him a snack before bed. Off I go!

  7. Hello…pick me! I’ve been guilty of over eagerly learning too many songs far too quickly and not concentrating on learning to play any one of them well. I gobble it all up without savoring the music because I want to be a pretty darned good fiddler…like yesterday! Happy to say that I have mellowed out since starting your course. Thank-you for that. 🙂

    I’ve recorded myself singing, in the past, and that was surprisingly helpful. I struggle with accepting, and believing any compliments on my voice because of how I sound to myself in my own head and with being my own worst critique. So I have an idea recording is going to do my playing wonders. The only promising sign I’ve had so far is that the cat doesn’t leave the room anymore when I play. 🙂
    Thanks for the most helpful blog post!

  8. I agree, Jason, always be learning is a good rule of life. I am learning to play the piano right now, and it is not as easy as people make it look when they play! I’m totally engaged with the learning and understanding more of music theory this way. As always, I practice the fiddle daily and am learning both classical pieces as well as fiddle pieces. I must admit, though, that I like the fiddle pieces better–they’re just more fun!

  9. Hello !
    in fact I realized I’ve been like Maureen,I always wanted to learn more and more tunes …without never play one very well !
    The other problem for me is to play when people are looking at me…It gives me a lot of stress and I’m starting to play not well and as I hear it’s not good,it stresses me even more it’s without solution…Even to play in front of a mirror and to look at me gives me stress ! It’s horrible,may be I’ve to meet a psychologist !!!

    Ps and for the moment my cats continue to leave the room when I’m playing !

    1. Karine,
      I got over my “stage fright” quickly after some friends asked me to get together weekly with them to play music. I am not even a very good keyboard player, but I am now a better, and a much more confident player because of that. I was a bundle of nerves in the beginning, but gradually that feeling went away and now it is all fun!
      And now with learning the fiddle, and being a beginner, I take my fiddle everywhere I go & I practice using a fiddle mute while sitting around with family and friends. I am not playing for them. I am simply practising scales, looping,intervals, fingering, etc. fiddling my heart out in the background while hanging out with other people. It is very comfortable and this way I’ll be playing songs for them soon and they won’t even know it! 😀
      If you are nervous even playing in front the mirror, then keep practising in front of the mirror every day until your nervousness goes away….because it will.
      It is the same as your fiddle practice. You need repetition to be better.
      Have fun with it and enjoy yourself!

  10. Hello Jason, Im new to Fiddlehed and fiddling, I am totally enjoying my learning experience here on Fiddlehed. I have hed 3 teachers since I started last November and I did not learn as fast as I am learning with you. Thank You. I agree about always learning. I have been doing hatha yoga since 1999, but, have just started to learn Kundalini and I love it. I do feel like I play better when I dont think too hard about what I am doing, If that makes sense at all. lol.

  11. well, i finally picked up the violin again which i have been trying to learn for 10 years, well i haven’t touched it in 4. I though that i may learn something now after i saw how you structured your videos now. I had one teacher and it was not a good experience.Today is my 65 birthday and i am starting all over again. Thanx Jason.

  12. I like the band scan because i do it all the time. Especially to annoy my husband. LOL Over the years i got pretty good at it, even picking out Roy clark and buck owens. LOL But you can’t miss the greats, eric clapton, ally bain, michael bouchet(sp?) mark knofler, Eddy Van Halen,
    Chet Atkins. and so many others. Andrew, i think his name is, in Buckwheat Zydeco was great always on the accordian. I saw him last year. He was so frail. And that little chic playing the base with jeff beck, blew me away the first time i saw here. and roger in Queen, so many over the years. Yoyo Ma have you seen him play with different genre people. I think he once played with Carolina chocolate drops with Rhianon on fiddle of course. Well I better stop.

      1. Practice makes perfect, yes, but I guess I’m lacking something in the “HOW” part that you mentioned. That’s very interesting….How?
        I’m probably pushing too hard, choking up, and don’t realise I’m doing that.
        Thanks for the insight.

        1. By “How you practice” I don’t mean techniques like bowing, but are you doing things efficiently. Are you working on the hard parts of a tune or do you just play the whole thing through each time? Are you working on your sound? Do you practice with looping and/or drones? What is the quality of practice?

          1. I do practice the hard parts and I do play with the play along tracks practising looping and drones.
            …I have not been faithfully using a weekly planner.
            I took your questions seriously and found myself back under the “How To Practice Fiddling” tab. How can I have efficient, quality practice if there is no order/structure to it? How will I know any improvements I’ve might have made when I can’t remember how I played any particular thing at the beginning of the week, let alone what I practised yesterday? That’s what I asked myself. And answered. Use the planner everyday and worse to better will probably come a lot sooner! 🙂

            You have 13 steps under “How To Learn And Practice A Fiddle Tune” that I’ve printed out to put in the front of my planner. This is something I’m sure going to want to have handy.

            I can’t thank you enough for this site!

  13. Jason, something you might want to pass along to the Fiddleheds is how to use the gear symbol “settings” at the bottom of the YouTube videos. They can slow down the video to 75 or 50%. 25% is shown but doesn’t seem to work. Sure makes it easy to play along!!

  14. Jason – such good advice from yet again “play it clear” “listening is practice too” “loop it” thank you so much for all you do, it is a great help
    Sounds like you had a great time in Ireland – so pleased – you deserve it!!

  15. Having such fun learning my way with you, and love the advice “play it clear”.
    Your advice to not start “sliding” too early was good too. I have been doing that and it is obviously why I am having trouble playing the notes correctly…must walk before I run!

    Cheers, DrLesley

  16. Before I became a Fiddlehed I knew what I wanted but had no direction or path to follow. Looking back everything seemed to be to quick. Get this tune done, now the next,next,next.
    I thought I new how to play Kerfunken Jig until I played it for a week with real concentration, now I know I can play it. And play it well. Take you’re time,small steps…. Follow the modules. Even if you think you know the tune.
    Thanks for the direction and path Fiddlehed

  17. I am all for playing it clear and believe sometimes that playing too many notes actually gets in the way of a good melody. But— maybe when time is right you can suggest techniques for improvising when maybe I don’t actually know the melody well enough to play it clear.



  18. I actually bought my fiddle right down the street from the Galway Girl video! That was in July this year (almost 2 months ago) and I haven’t put it down since. I’ve played guitar since I was a kid but I never REALLY practiced (just more interested in using it for rhythm and chords) and I’ve always wanted to learn violin. So before my wife and I went to Ireland, I decided that I’d get a fiddle from there and actually try to learn this time haha. Galway is an awesome, lively place. Looking at this post has me wanting to go back! Hope you enjoyed it and thanks for this song!

  19. As an avid skill collector (hoarder?) I totally relate to this. I’m always learning or wanting to learn how to do something new. But it’s usually visual or tied to a piece of art I want to make. Or a skill I must learn to keep the wheels on the cart so I can do the other fun things. (I’m looking at you, business skills.) More welding and blacksmiting are on my to do list. And fiddle of course!

  20. I’ve been putting off learning the fiddle for years because it’s so difficult, but this program might get me over the hump.

    My main issue is it’s so freaking loud and obnoxious when a novice is learning to play. I fabricated my own mute, so as to keep my bride out of my colonic aperture while I’m practicing she’s home.

    I’ve played guitar and bass since I was 12, and I started on mando about 3 years ago, how long do you think it will take for me to become proficient? I’m going to join a Pete Wernick class in Evanston this fall, but do you know of my good instructors in Chicago? How about at the Old Town School?


  21. I’ve been a PGA teaching professional for 28 years, and I’m really keen on the biomechanics of what ever motor skill I’m teaching or learning. I’ve also had THREE carpel tunnel surgeries, so I’ve got bad hands. But why is the thumb of the bow hand supposed to be curved?


  22. I take lessons at Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago. I’ve kept the lessons pretty much a secret until now. “Fiddle lessons” becomes “violin lessons”. “Violin lessons” becomes “ballet lessons”. Now I am proud of my fiddling and was surprised how cool my friends think it is. Great website

  23. I love the statement, “This makes me feel like I’m a fiddler.” I don’t feel like a fiddler very often in practice, but when I do, its powerful! I wasn’t sure of what I was feeling until I saw those words here.

    Thanks for sharing this very organized plan! Its inspiring!

  24. your tune sounds very good Fiona – very inspirational
    you are so lucky being able to have personal tuition with Jason
    I dont yet feel like a fiddler, but I think that after 5 years I have reached the end of the beginning 🙂

  25. I’ll be 70 next month and determined to learn this at least to the point that I could play in front of someone besides my dog. That drives me to practice every day.
    If it was easy anyone could do it. Fiddlehed is the best !!!!!!

    1. Well I say a very happy Birthday to crowbar47! I hear you my dog can probably understand the various out of range noises that inadvertently
      occur during practice, so he’s patient and will stay with me. One thing I have noticed is I get extremely nervous in front of people, even myself (while attempting to video my bowing). The first month I just said to myself all the squeaking and bow hopping will stop by the next month. So here I am three months into my experience and I am still not where I want to be. When I came upon this website I was so excited because Fiddlehed believes in baby steps, which is so crucial due to the steep learning curve. So I started completely over, not playing till I thought I got it perfect, playing for the sheer joy of playing and trying to make each note sound better then yesterday. Before I knew it, I worked my way up to two hours/day (and that’s not every single day) which was easy since I focus on scales, finger exercises and simple tunes I learned here. I make practice my “free time” and yes even 10 minutes are better then nothing. I also bought two wall hooks that allow me and my kids to place our violins within site and reach. That’s been the biggest motivator having your instrument right there.
      I still flop in front on my instructor, but I’m sure that’s a matter of being confident, and that also comes with practice. Good luck to you!

  26. Sounds like you just have a natural gift for playing music which is wonderful. For me the piano was painful as a kid, and after 9 years I just couldn’t take it anymore. I wasn’t progressing and for some reason had immense problems reading chords. BUT I have always loved music of all genres and was envious of those who played instruments.
    Now that I have young children, they are my motivators. In addition the violin just seemed to click with me. It’s emotional to watch people playing and honestly I never thought I would be a violin student at my age, but here I am, ready to take on the lessons and learn everything I possibly can. It’s relaxing and fun and after a hard day at work, I just grab my violin and practice, it soothes me and I’m so happy I started this venture.

  27. I play every day. I’ve only been playing for a year so my motivation is that it is a ridiculously fun and challenging instrument and that I have so much to learn that I have no trouble finding new things to play and practice that interest me.

    I have young children so finding time to play is a challenge, and also my wife HATES to hear me play. I race home after work to get a few minutes of unmuted playing in before I go pick up the kids and my wife gets home. Also, my wife won’t even let me play in the house with a heavy mute on, so I play muted outside during the day if the kids are napping or in the garage muted at night after the kids are asleep. Even with these challenges I still usually get in at least an hour a day. Unfortunately, I almost never get to play unmuted.

  28. I’m interested in “Own a halfway decent fiddle” and what are the characteristics of a halfway decent fiddle. I frequently lapse into the thought that if I only had a better fiddle I’d play better. But then think my deficiencies have more to do with the fiddlers and not the fiddle. I’ve been playing about a year, with a teacher for the first 3 months. I do play every day and I am getting better, although oh, soooo slowly!

      1. Thanks for this suggestion! I had seen on Johnston Strings that I could rent a fiddle and was thinking that might be a good idea. They give a little bit of guidance on choosing one to rent. I live in a small town with limited choices, so that might work well. My husband had surprised me with my current fiddle that he bought via the internet. Good intentions, but I don’t think its much better than the student fiddle I already had, although a but more expensive (about $425). Patience is a virtue!

    1. Sometimes a setup by a good violin tech makes all the difference. I’m a guitarist, but I was struggling with keeping the fiddle in tune. I grew to despise friction pegs. I had Wittner geared pegs installed and also had my tailpiece swapped out for a better one. He made adjustments to the bridge. The last step was to check the soundpost. At this point, he adjusted the intonation. Honestly I can’t be happier. It was $200 well spent. It might seem like a lot of money to spend on a $600 Barcus Berry fiddle, but it is a nice fiddle made in Romania. I’ll probably bring it back yearly to have the setup adjusted.

  29. I play daily. I have missed two days in four months. Some days, I don’t feel like it, but as soon as I start I get lost in it – and I know this, so I always start. On days when I do a lot of ‘drills’ (scales, arpeggios, bowing exercises) and then songs, I feel great afterward. I had a mute on through the summer, because I practice late at night and didn’t want to offend the neighbors, but now that the weather is getting cooler and windows closed, I took it off. The sound is so much more engulfing and rich without a mute, that it makes me look forward to playing more.

  30. I play most days. My wife has a rare dementia that originally just involved “warped” optic nerves and spatial problems. She continued to ride horse from age 52-56, when she lost depth perception entirely. She rode all her life and was rated sixth in the US in 1998. I toyed with the violin when younger, but never put my heart in it. Now I am a full time caregiver (with help). I know my wife wants me to grasp this art, as she had grasped her equine skills. I am very, very busy, as you can imagine; but I always have 30min-1hr. to play in the evening. Children are all out of the house now and I play in the family room, behind closed doors far from the bedroom my wife is sleeping in. I write this just to express how precious this opportunity is for me. Hope it doesn’t sound “sappy;” it is real life. I am 68, my wife 59.

    1. Owneee61, I can relate to your comment. My wife has dementia that was caused by viral encephalitis over 12 years ago. I first took up the banjo “scruggs’ style” and taught myself using YouTube videos. About a year and a half ago I did the same with the fiddle mainly using Fiddlehed videos. It is very rare for me not to play every day. In my banjo adventure I was “Banjoflyboy” and now “Fiddleflyboy”. The fiddle has captured my soul and I really enjoy playing!

    2. I am so glad to be able to be a part of your fiddling and I hope you will continue. How wonderful that you and your wife support each other. Life is real but you are faced with something that is very difficult. I hope the fiddling helps you both. Your age? Google “Fiddlin’ Phil May with Darling Nellie Gray”. Let him be your inspiration. Fiddlers are never too old. Will keep you and your wife in my thoughts. Thank you for your candor. You inspire me.

  31. I wasn’t playing every day until I bought a String Swing and mounted it on the wall. Now I pick it up and play several times a day – even if just 15 to 20 minutes at a time (in addition to my regular practice time). Accessibility is definitely the key to practicing more. I also agree that playing a decent instrument does make a serious difference. That doesn’t mean you have to buy brand new either. I found a perfectly good instrument at a pawn shop that normally retailed for $1000 for $300 (take a knowledgable person along to look it over if you’re unsure). I am thoroughly enjoying learning fiddle music!

  32. I’ve only been playing for a year now, but I have not missed a day. Sometimes it’s just 5 minutes, sometimes an hour x 2, but I play every day — because I love it. The progress is painfully slow at this age, but it’s there — I can feel the improvement for the every effort I put in. I love the feeling.
    I feel bad for CorrinRadd; my husband is very supportive of my learning, and he even drives me to the lesson (I can’t drive right now as my leg is in a brace) and patiently sits in the room and observes. My son memorizes the tune I am playing and hums along. I am so lucky! CorrinRadd: don’t give up!

  33. I’ll say music is in my blood. My mother was from a little steel mill town, West Aliquippa, PA. She told me how her brothers would play music out on their porch and Henry Mancini would be there too. She married my guitar playing dad in NY. My brother got lessons and plays everything. I got chord organ lessons and went no where with it. It was stuffy and confining to me. I like to be more portable. Many years ago my daughter played violin in school. She grew up and the violin was stored in her possession. One day I asked her if I could borrow it. I was beginning to like hearing the tunes on you tube and I was picking them up by ear. I didn’t want to spend the time reading the music. After about 6 months, my granddaughter wanted the violin back, even though it was to big for her, so I returned it and eventually she started playing with her school and is doing so well, about 4 years now, and I can’t play what she plays…beautiful classical music. Anyway Christmas came and my husband surprised me with my own violin. Most of my learning is from you tube still and I’m comfortable with that. Almost 70 years old now and I play a little, cook a little,back to playing, do a little Fitbit competing with the grandkids and back to playing…loving life!

  34. Tunes that I will play someday:

    Brilliancy, Black Mountain Rag, Mule Skinner Blues, Hurricane (Bob Dylan tune), Back Up and Push, and Foggy Mountain Breakdown.

    I am years away from most of those, though I can play a few bits and pieces of all of them.

  35. Hi Jason,
    I was practicing with my metronome last night and decided to take your advice and play slow, I am learning Wildwood Flower this week. I noticed that when I practiced with the metronome at 50 I sounded terrible, it was too slow and my bow was not making the connection I needed it to, for some odd reason. then I put it up to 60 and I did better.Yes, practicing slow definitely helped me learn the note sequence better.

    Thank You

  36. Hey Jaso’n. Hope you are doing well. I love the idea of your app but can you say who wrote it or published it? there’s a zillion out there. Some are obviously not the one you have.

    question about the little fiddlehed tune book, 1.1 is not supposed to be in it? want to make sure i didn’t screw up the pdf.

  37. Great tune, great album,great times. What a band. They released a box set of all the demos, out takes that didn’t make the cut. Absolute gold for a fan. There is also the first time Mike Scott introduced Fisherman Blues to the band, calling out chords etc. You’ve made my day Mr Fiddlehed……

  38. LOVE THE RAGA! For intermediates gunning for advanced… any tips or maybe even a separate blog post for intermediates who do practice slow (not sure how to define slow – guessing it is where you can deliberately think about each note – or say put the tune to half time and stay on it perfect at half time)… but the thing is, after learning it slow and going for speed to liven it up, I can be surprised at how the bowing feels: completely different (have to lighten up for one). Seems you have to go in circles (and do lots of simpler bowing drills on related patterns at speed)? Signed: going in circles.

  39. What an experience to see how music lives in Ireland. The audience is multi-generational and how the audience loves to sing. You likely won’t get a place to sit, smoking is allowed, and food is not served. It is all about music.

  40. I loved hearing your story. Each musician has a unique start and journey. Your rendition of Whiskey Before Breakfast was great. I started piano at 4 yrs old and was taught in the strictest classical manner. Taking the violin (fiddle) up in my 50’s was a challenge. It took me awhile to realize I could hear the music. At the start, I was amazed how people knew when to change keys. Now I, am one of them. Thank you for your interactive and fun approach to music. I’m still struggling with fills.

  41. I’ll be on vacation in Asheville, NC from October 17 to October 23. Here’s some things I think I can do to keep participating.
    – Start early
    – Keep watching videos
    – Keep listening to fiddle players
    – Go see good blue grass open mike
    – Visit a luthier
    – Visit this Exhibit – The Luthier’s Craft: Instrument Making Traditions of the Blue Ridge @ Smith-McDowell House Museum
    – Get tickets to see An Evening with Alasdair Fraser and Natalie Haas, October 22, 2017 @ Isis Music Hall !
    – Listen to recordings of my playing and imagine how I’d adjust it.

    I’m not bringing my instrument…but I can do all these things 🙂

  42. I have an inexpensive essay book, the kind you use for school, in which I keep a list of what I’ve practiced every day. I write the date, then note:

    *what scales I practiced

    *what tunes I practiced and whether it’s a new tune* or a tune I’m playing from memory
    (* I write whose version or what book I learned it from because it sometimes makes a difference when I get together with other players)

    *What techniques (usually applied to a specific tune): double stops, bowing, crossings, positions, etc

    *if I went to an irish session, fiddle camp or bluegrass jam that day –and what tunes I did there if I can remember them all!

    *if I played along with the radio, youtube or playalong tracks — melodies, fills or improv

    *if I transcribed any tunes I heard into EasyABC for future reference

  43. Great advice! I would add that I like to use the slow down feature available on YouTube videos. This can be found by clicking the gear symbol on the YouTube page. Fifty percent and 75% work well. Twenty five percent slowdown may or may not work depending on your internet speed. I like YouTube because it gives you a visual look at the hands to help you get started, and understand the fiddler’s technique.

    1. I might be able to handle that. I couldn’t figure out how to use the app for slow play lite. I was going to request a computer lesson LOL. Jason, I remember a video of yours in which you were at the computer and using the slow play features and thought that is what I need, but I didn’t even know how to put my songs on the page. Hoping this You Tube feature works for me. Thanks to both of you.

  44. I find recording my playing to be very helpful. I have been doing that since I started playing a year and a half ago. I hear sooo much improvement. At first I was very slow and very scratchy. My pitch wasn’t very good either. I still hear things I need to improve, so know where to focus my attention. I am learning to play without the aid of an in-person teacher, so am using all the tools I can find.

  45. Recording is painful, but very beneficial. Slightest misplacement of a finger and the note is flat or sharp! I’m using scales in Dmajor, 1-2-3-3-2-1 and Kesh Jig, Bill Cheatham and Foggy Dew as my practice tunes.

  46. Funny I just read this BLOG entry…. I have not picked up my fiddle since school started [I’m a 4th grade teacher]. The beginning of the year is chaotic and there was no time for my fiddle. I maintained my twice a day ukulele practice but could not focus enough on my fiddle. I’m a real newbie…I taught myself [with your help] to play fiddle in May of this year. This summer I spent an hour a day plus on both instruments with emphasis on fiddle. By end of summer I had some cool tunes under my belt and I felt pretty good about my playing. I signed up for your subscription……and then school started. End of fiddle 🙁 But today…. I sat down and tuned my fiddle friend and away we went. Good times! I was amazed at how easily it flowed back…Ok sure there were some ugly squawks, but my point is the “vacation”while perhaps too long really opened me up to my fiddle practice. So it’s back to my twice a days with both instruments.Thanks for being here when I was ready to return.

    1. @Ann, I could have written your comment–I’m a teacher, too, and ever since September 5 I can barely find time for my own music. Luckily I get to teach two classes of bluegrass music grades 7-12, so I’m getting something in the way of playing strings. Hang in there! ~connie

  47. Actually I am a classroom teacher but am blessed to teach a just for fun ukulele club after school which has made my day. I have kids who have never picked up an instrument and kids who are with me for year 2. Music should be FUN!!!

  48. RE: “Play it with single bows, and then with two bows.”
    I have done this on some tunes.
    Another thing I do to simplify a new tune I am learning, to get the rhythms right, is to play all notes as eighths (or sixteenths if that’s the shortest value note), and set the metronome to a somewhat slow tempo. So for example, if I the shortest note value in the piece is eighths, then I play two eighth notes when I see a quarter note, three eighth notes when I see a dotted quarter, and so on. That way you know just how long to hold the note. After a few times through you can “tie” together the longer notes, and then you have it. Once this is all worked out then you can add the “swing” to the tune.

  49. It’s frustrating to have a bad practice but I always, always find that if it’s bad one day, it’s invariably good the next. Somehow stuff is sinking in, even if it doesn’t feel or sound like it. So I think your best advice – although these are all good ideas – is “accept.” Have faith that practicing works and muscle memory is real. I’m just an intermediate beginner, not an expert, and it’s reassuring to know that someone who has been playing for 40 years experiences this, too.

  50. I like it very much. Thankyou. This piece reminds me of a stream in upstate NY my husband and i canoed and it literally did branch out. Sometimes it ended in dead ends and we paddled back to the main stream. It was lovely.

  51. crikey – that sounds really interesting – I think I might give it a go. I am trying to play “The Peelers away with my daughter” with a local folk workshop type of group I have just joined (they meet monthly). I struggle playing at the speed I need, especially in a couple of the bars (in fact two lots of two bars) – so I’m going to just play those 4 bars over and over – for 10 mins a day – split into two 5 min sessions possibly as it might e too much otherwise (I’ll see how it goes).

    That will be on top of my other practicing. Fingers crossed and my struggle with them might become a thing of the past within 2 weeks!
    Thank you for the suggestion. I will let you know in 2 weeks time. Wish me luck 🙂

    PS I’m going to diarise my practicing as well I think, which is another of your really fabulous tips. So I should see these sets of 5 mins ticked off each day for the next two weeks at least. What a challenge, and it’s not even new year!

  52. Just did my first 5 mins on two bars and it was quite illuminating. In fact I ended up breaking it down into half a bar at a time for some of the time. Astonishingly, I can’t wait to do another 5 minutes on it! (but I am going to save it for later as a treat to myself! haha)

    ..and I have even written down the plan (marking it as a 2 week challenge until 13 November) and listed the planned sessions ready to tick off – just about to make my first tick – yaaay! Thank you Jason and especially for Fiddlehed.

  53. Dear Jason, that is fab well done setting the challenge for everyone. I am sorry that I missed it. (I didn’t see it)
    I am a member of an online forum (a professional body) where the hosts award “prizes” to its members by awarding “stickers” and these accumulate and build up over time into a certificate (I think 10 stickers where you have contributed to a discussion on a topic give you a certificate). Once you have a certificate it is automatically pinned as a background to your photo, so whenever you chat or create posts on the forum other people can see the latest “certificate” you have been awarded. It is fun!

    I’m on day 3 of the 1000 hours practice on 2 bars of music (5 mins at a time for each bar) – which actually is having the effect of getting me to practice every day as well. Once I have started on those bars I always find myself wanting to carry on with some other bits. I keep my violin out of its box as much as I can as it is much more conducive to picking it up when its just sitting there. (only use the box when travelling with it).

    I’m not active on twitter although I do have an account.

    Would your forum be able to host a chat page for your members and a place they can post vids – perhaps even for a short time ? I am not very tech savvy I’m afraid. I use FB and that is where I usually pick up your posts, which I really love. I think you are amazing, thank you very much for being so motivating and making your knowledge and experience available to us all.

  54. Just completed day 4 of my 5 min challenge.
    It is so weird, the bars look simple enough but they were catching me out every time when I tried to play the piece quickly, which is why I chose them. I am so glad I did choose them, as they are still tricky to get right even after all the practice I have done.

    I have found myself trying to analyse why I find them difficult and trying different ways of playing each bit eg leave one finger down whilst playing on the other string to help when I come back to it, also moving my elbow up when coming across to the A string form the E.
    I have even watched myself in the mirror and found that I was tilting my bow back so wasn’t playing on the flat bow ie less hair pulling the string. It wasn’t relevant to the fingering but I hadn’t realized I was doing it.
    Some of the problems I have include making the notes sound nice, not touching other strings inadvertently and keeping my finger (positioned on the D string) clear of the A string when I’m rocking from G (on D string) to open A.
    It is amazing how much you start thinking about a few simple notes when you are playing them over and over again!

    I really hope I can complete this challenge as it can only be good for my playing I’m sure. I have also found myself noticing other single bars in other music I’m practicing. I am sighing as I think I could usefully use this approach on a lot more bars than just the couple I have chosen…I have a feeling that once I have done this challenge I will be following it up with another similar challenge. There could be no end to this!

  55. I find this happens to me.
    To help, I have found that I should forget about the piece for a few mins and slowly play a couple of scales in the key that the piece is in, concentrating on bowing and the sound of each note.
    Then go back to the piece and play the wretched bit that was tripping me up – slowly once or twice.

    Then I can have a go at the whole piece again and it is back to sounding at least as good as it was the day before.

    Another problem I have is that I can’t just pick up the violin and play a tune at someone’s behest. It is really frustrating, as I really do need to warm up before I get going and it isn’t always convenient to warm up – eg if you are playing a tune at an open mic in the pub and you have to wait your turn. Maybe I’ll make a new post to ask for tips on this…

  56. You’ve probably touched on this before, and I apologize for missing it (I’m new). Regarding bowing: if a person can make a satisfactory sound with his or her own version of up/down/slur or no slur, are they harming themselves? To clarify, I’ve watched orchestras and ensembles of strings — it appears they all are moving their bows in unison. So I figure that means there’s a right way and a wrong way. Personally, I would be happy to be able to play “Orange Blossom Special” in my own way, even if it meant arthritis in later years. But I would like to know if there is some general method to bowing. Thanks.

  57. Very busy this past week, AND the computer caught a virus….New computer, new email. Not sure how to convey that, so I will give it here, hoping that it gets recorded: Owneee61@gmail.com.

    I think I will stay with Fiddlehed and find people to play with (I may have to pay them!).

    from Virginia

  58. Thanks for all the motivational tips you give for all of us that have to “be our own teacher”. I’ve learned alot from your online course. It is true when you practice in front of a mirrror i realized where i wasn’t bowing as straight as i thought. Also when i record myself it is “glaringly obvious” what i need to work on. Little by little i’m improving. Thankyou for offering these courses.

  59. Well said!!! I have been at jams, where there was a hierarchy of tunes, and the “old” ones were treated as boring and beginner….I myself have heard some amazing versions of Angelina Baker. The old, familiar tunes I love for their communal nature, bringing people together. Amy

  60. Well, I am finding the old fiddle tunes to be wonderful. They are mostly new to me. Like a whole new world. I find them fun to play. Plus you don’t have to worry about copyright infringement if you want to post a video online. Most are probably way beyond worrying about.

  61. Last night i tried playing old susanah to every different beat on the beat central. It was fun and a great way for beginners to get used to new rythyms. I probably wouldn’t have been able to keep up using an unfamiliar song.

  62. I love the title and the message of this article. The more familiar, the slower and the simpler the song, the more I have to practice to achieve the sound, I wish to be heard. I simply love the selection you have for your students to learn. Thank you, I am having so much fun learning something old, yet new, each day!

  63. I agree it is never too late to start. I am 69 and began lessons last May. I keep wondering if my aging brain is slowing me down and keeping me from remembering where to put those left fingers and to keep my bow perpendicular. But I have always loved the fiddle. I wish I had begun this years ago, but I am very happy I began now. In spite of my mistakes, it is so enjoyable learning and it is a joy when I can make a tune sound like the tune.
    Thank you for this online tutoring experience. It is a valuable supplement to my in person lessons.

  64. I agree, too. I’m 62 and will have been playing for 2 years in Feb. When I was taking piano as a girl, it killed me to practice for a half hour. Now I practice twice a day and can easily do it for an hour or longer, just because I love playing the fiddle so much. I have an in-person teacher, but I kind of like Fiddlehed better.

    1. I too had a teacher but got away from her after a year and a half. I really enjoy FiddleHed and it’s always there, accessible to play and practice as long as I please . I am 65 and started two years ago.

  65. Hi,
    I believe also that anyone who is physically able can learn the violin at any age. I started on 10th November this year 2017, and I am 80 years young. I am taking your free lessons and appreciate you Jason for taking it slowly and getting to show a student the correct procedures
    many thanks

  66. I’ll add my agreement. I started the fiddle a couple of years ago when I was 57. Teaching myself, I really struggled until I found Fiddlehed, then came on in leaps and bounds. Jason, your tunes are fun and simple without being childish, you teach at just the right pace, and I often feel as though you’re there in the room with me. In my younger years I played recorder, guitar and flute but always imagined the violin would be beyond me. I appreciate you showing me the light. 😁

  67. I took up fiddle when I retired three years ago. Now I’ll probably never become a professional classical violinist, but that was never my goal. I’m having a great time jamming with friends, and at Bluegrass festival campouts. I can hear and feel improvement and that’s really my goal. And I’m having a great time and meeting new people. I’m using my brain and keeping active. My husband recently started learning to play guitar and sing.

  68. I agree totally with the ‘never too late’ theme. Just turned 66 and started trying to play my fiddle in my mid-40’s when my kids were driving me crazy playing ‘Twinkle Twinkle’ for Suzuki lessons on our piano. I actually started playing along (in a remote room) with my fiddle from time to time – that was my start. A friend of mine had graduated up to the fiddle and we went back-and-forth sharing tunes and discoveries. We grew up together doing much the same thing with guitar playing. He spent a lot more time than I did musically and as a result pulled quite a ways ahead of me in playing ability, and I eventually put down the fiddle thinking I’d never get anywhere much with it. Focused on learning the mandolin for quite a while, which I discovered wasn’t a bad switch for wanna-be fiddle player having a parallel with tuning and fingerings – the frets give a late-learner a break on tone compared to the fiddle.
    About 2 years ago I sincerely picked up my fiddle again. The mandolin playing was a leg up, but the biggest plus this time around is all the available videos and software a person can use for like personal lessons, or breaking a favorite or tough song down in speed to ‘aha’ the tricky parts. I spent a little money for these lessons and software the past two years, but the payoff has been very wonderful, and surprising. Key things I found were the 1) practice every day, 2) play with confidence and be positive, 3)recognize your weak areas (and strong ones) and find a way to work them over (or utilize them), 4) keep an open mind for new ideas/techniques, 5)know your limitations and know there likely is a way around them, so go find it.
    So play as much as you can. There is ample time to dedicate when you start looking for it. My biggest hurdle is making myself ‘slow down’ and be more accurate and clear to start with and then build speed. Think that is probably a symptom of being older and knowing there is less of a time window to accomplish things. Have to say, every time I’ve gone for clarity and accuracy first, I have been able to progress faster than I thought I was going to be able to. Jason is so right about that.
    Thanks, Jason (Fiddlehed) and all my fellow fiddlers (and late-bloomers) for this great world of music!

  69. I really hope you do get into the class, thank you for sharing so much of this journey….your gentle playful spirit always comes thru your videos, I smiled thru the whole thing and am still smiling…I bet they will be smiling too!

  70. I have a plaque in my music room/office and it says, “The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away. Pablo Picasso”. Everyone has to make a living and pay rent, etc. and you need to get paid for your work to survive and as you said, to be able to create more … and we all benefit from that. 🙂 Teaching is one of the most generous professions out there and it is a true gift. I’m glad you’re teaching and I’m sure all of the FiddleHed students are as well. When I was looking for a teacher, I really couldn’t find anyone that taught and played the kind of music that I loved. So, I took some classical lessons, that I don’t regret at all; I learned how to read music and play reasonably well. I’d faithfully practice my half hour and call it a day. Since I’ve been taking lessons at FiddleHed.com, it’s like a switch has flipped on and my passion for music has been reignited. Practice is like a train I can’t get off and I don’t want to, as I’m having so much fun. I love the way you teach and the music we play. My logical side usually ends up thinking, I should probably stop now and give my fingers and brain a break but my creative side doesn’t want to stop. 🙂 Lastly, how cool is it that I can say, “look, here’s my teacher, he plays in an awesome band. – check out his video.” I am really glad you’re teaching and sharing your talent with the universe. Thank you! 🙂

  71. Wow … touring sounds tough. I have been in photography for 20 + years … it’s also not as glamorous a lifestyle as one would think. 🙃 People will say, “Oh you take pictures for a living, that must be a great job and really fun.” I just smile and think, “well that’s a long story.” … Life is such a balancing act and following a path of creativity can be a bumpy and winding road. 😎

      1. Not at all. I thought what you wrote was insightful and real. Following the creative path can be sometimes amazing, sometimes tough, but most always truly rewarding. I always chose that path and I’m really glad you did too. You shine in all you do. I enjoyed your post. ❤🎶🎻

  72. I’ve been an Air Marshal for 10 years, actually started learning to play fiddle because I’m bored in the hotel room overseas at 3 in the morning, you can imagine how happy the other guests must be. Everyone is excited and interested in how great it must be to travel to a different country every week and all the great things I get to do and see. It does have it moments but hard to enjoy when your exhausted from being a professional commuter. I have learned that no matter what the job is, it is just that, a job. There are always good things but overall I would be happier hanging out in the country side riding a horse, fixing fences or doing some manual labor and learning to play my fiddle better. I guess, hope, that’s way retirement is for. Keep up the good work. I have enjoyed learning from you.

  73. Thanks I needed that! I have become somewhat negative about my progress. I’ve been playing for over a year now and was hoping to sound better by now. I hear so many little mistakes as I play and I suppose that’s a good thing, but I want perfection! Another thing… I am always so nervous when playing with others. How can I overcome this?

  74. I play with a group of three other adult fiddlers once a week. I met them through a bluegrass jam but we play all kinds of fiddle tunes when we get together. Playing with others is a whole new skill. You have to listen as well as pay attention to what you are playing. We play off of sheet music but we also play from memory the tunes we know well. This can be challenging because we may have learned different versions of the same tune. We are also starting to work on some duets where we are not playing the tune in unison. We all struggle with certain things and we all mess up here and there, especially the first time we go through a tune. We’ll go through a song a few times and when it goes well it’s a beautiful thing. If I could play with them several times a week my progress would be so much faster, but in the meantime I play along with recordings, which is not as good as playing with real people but still helpful.

  75. You are AWESOME, Jason. You make everything easy to understand and that is just what I need. No Complicated lecture on all the ways to do it right.. You make it short sweet and to the point. I will definitely use this approach going forward in my journey. I have been trying to do too much and I am in too big of a hurry. I appreciate everything you do. It is very helpful.

  76. Hello Jason, Just wanted to let you know that I continue to progress and have gained so much more confidence. I am finishing 1.5 and the lessons that you teach in getting a better sound is amazing and helped me a lot.
    Thanks Again
    Keep up the Great work Teach.

  77. I’ve decided to stop learning new tunes recently (until you posted Fairytale of New York) and really work on and enjoy a handful of tunes I already know. Get these to a point where I REALLY know them. The goal is for someone to say ” hay Dave bring you’re Fiddle over here and regale us with that tune, Kerfunken Jig”…. Not oh no he’s picked that Fiddle thing up again….

  78. Hi Jason,
    I’ve been trying to play double stops and have them sound good for some time now. Actually the very first lesson I watched from Fiddlehed last year was on double stops and I became a big fan of your teaching ever since. Anyhow I’ve been working on Midnight on the Water with double stops and got the A part down pretty well, but had trouble with the E and A string double stop so I took it a part in the true Fiddlehed way and voila’ ! even my mom (who is almost 95) was impressed. Thank you Jason for your thoughtful and fun lessons.

  79. Good advice. I have been fiddlin’ for 2 years as of 10 Jan. Over this time I learned over 60 tunes. Most I learned from Fiddlehed on YouTube. Some I learned from other instructors, and several I learned by just listening. As with David McGowan I recently put on the brakes and am now focusing on quality over quantity. Applying vibrato, slurring, and drones to tunes I know and like. Jason’s advice and approach resonates with me. Listening is practice!

  80. In response to, “Hey play us a tune”! Where “is” the appropriate place on the Fiddlehed site to cut and paste fiddle recordings we post on YouTune? Also, I think it would be a wonderful idea to establish a free Google Fiddlehed Chat Room where Fiddleheders could gather to share ideas as is done on BanjoHangOut/FiddleHangOut.

  81. Exactly what I was thinking. I picked up the fiddle 2 years ago at the age of 40, just for my own amusement, after spending many years regretting not learning a musical instrument from my father, a folk musician. I found I could play passable versions of tunes quite quickly but then I’d move on to another one without trying to get really good at the ones I already learned. Putting the brakes on now and returning to the basics to try and get the foundation right.

  82. This is good advice.

    I’d like to thank you for the inspiration you have given me. You have so many fantastic tunes on your site and I want to learn them.
    However, I have resisted your charms.

    I have been laying for just 4 months, using the Scottish Folk Fiddle Tutor book. I’m about to learn the G Major scale and the songs that follow, but I’ve decided to stop where I am for now, sticking with just learning to play the G scale. The songs can wait a while.

    I can play the earlier tunes pretty well and revise them all every week – I just accept Twinkle Twinkle is the price I have to pay to learn this instrument. There are some songs I’ve learned from the book, that to me are important. Jeely Piece Song (that’s a jam sandwich for non-Scots), Coulter’s Candy, Lovely Stornoway and Fairy Lullaby. The first two are childhood songs we all learn in Scotland Matt McGinn videos of these songs are on youtube if anybody wants to go and listen. The other two I hadn’t heard before; I blew myself away with them, so I played around with them and polished them and polished them more. I play the long notes much longer than the note length in the book. I just make it feel right and move on to the next note.

    Just before Christmas I plucked up the courage to take my violin around to my mum – she’s in her 80s – and play for her. When I’d finished those two songs and looked up, she had a tear running down her face. “Oh, lassie! I don’t know why I’m crying. I just am, they’re beautiful. Play them again for me”. I was shocked, but that’s music, that’s what it sometimes does if you play it with polish. And I’d played them. She said Lovely Stornoway makes her feel like she’s at a rocky sea shore with her feet in the sea being gently lapped by the waves, and Fairy Lullaby makes her feel like she’s falling asleep in front of a coal fire with the snow falling down outside.

    I’ve got a lot of learning and polishing to do and one day, I’ll be able to play her some of your tunes. She might get up and dance! Or Coorie Doon if she feels like another dreammy snooze snuggled up in front of a dreamy fire.

    So I know the advice here is very good advice and it’s nice to have someone who knows their stuff say it.

    Thank you Jason, thank you so much.

  83. I wish you’d been around when I was in my 60’s when I started learning to play fiddle. Over the past 20 plus years (I’m 83 now) if I hadn’t made such hard work of it and given up, I’d be a fair fiddler by now. But no regrets—every day is a new beginning! I appreciate your reminding us to make the process of practice fun and the encouragement in your blogs on taking the time to enjoy experimenting with a tune instead of racing to learn a passel of new ones—as I use to without learning them well.

  84. Thanks for posting the the harmony part video for Swallowtail Jig. I am 52 years old and have a 10 year old daughter who has just started violin. I decided to purchase two violins, one for each of us so that we can both learn together. I thought that the progression of her school lesson program was way too slow for her ability so I began teaching her songs that would challenge her. I started to teach her Swallowtail when I happened across your site. Since I have been playing guitar for 35 years, I have a good grasp of music theory and tend to design alto parts for simple carols like wish you a merry christmas and then play them with my daughter while my 9 year old son plays background keys. I thought I could write a harmony part to Swallowtail but you already had one worked out. Saved me a ton of time. Looking forward to what your site has to offer. Thanks again. Jim

  85. My projects this winter are learning 15 lively tunes that would have been played in the 1870’s, for reenactments in Lincoln NM this summer, and to make a foot-operated Jig-doll as a rhythm instrument. I have 7 tunes now that I’m sticking with for awhile until they sound good. I have until the July event to perfect another 7 or 8 tunes. Jig-dolls, sometimes called limberjacks, are jointed wood toys that dance on a board as you tap your foot. They’ve been around since the 1600s. I stumbled onto buskers using them on youtube. They are fascinating to watch. Since I am self-conscious about playing fiddle publicly, the jig-doll will keep the focus off me and on the dancing doll.

  86. I really like your specifics about practice. I guess I would be considered an intermediate player, but being mostly self-taught, there are huge gaps in my technique and the understanding of how to go about improving. My practice has been a mish-mash, confused, hit or miss affair. I really appreciate your detailed instructions on how and what to practice, broken into easy segments.
    I chose to subscribe to you over several other teachers I considered online, but I had no idea just how much you had on offer. I took one online course, a couple of years ago, which was very good, but I didn’t finish it because the lessons took you through specifc tunes, half of which I didn’t like! If you didn’t learn the tunes in order, you missed out on instruction for the next step. What’s great about your set up is that you have a long tune list and a student can choose tunes he likes and choose what things he wants to work on. This is a rich site. I am so pleased—and excited!

  87. You can sound like a hippie if you want to! I think today more and more people are experiencing things in a more spiritual light, but are hesitant to talk about it. But that is changing. Just feel it, say it, play it!

  88. Thank you for this inspiration.
    I appreciate your fiddle instruction, but also the flow into general life encouragement.
    I’m feeling even better about deciding to pick up and learn to fiddle…..all the good stuff!!!

    Enjoy India! I’m sure a blast!

  89. Best wishes for the process!
    I’m feeling very encouraged by you. If I practice everyday, that makes me a musician! and the fantasy in my head is just to play increasingly better music…..and if I play on my front porch and someone walks by, that they will be pleasantly surprised. So I’m hopeful!

  90. Thank you for this reminder, Jason. I’m a yoga instructor, and it is often said that “With practice, all is coming.” (That’s a quote from K Pattabhi Jois, a well-known yogi.) And so it is with everything. I like to think that every bow stroke I take has moved me one more bow stroke forward.

  91. good advice as always Jason
    but also one must beware of making the same mistake every time unto the 1000th you practice (you dont see the wood for the trees if you judge yourself). I thought I had mastered “Coleraine” and was feeling pretty chuffed with myself for getting it. But then, when playing in a little jam session with friends, I noticed one of them looking at me quizzically, and I thought “I bet he will say how good I am getting” , but when he spoke he actually said “you know you should be playing G#, not G in that B part” !!!!!!

    I was most upset, until I realised he was actually right, and I went home and have worked on better intonation in more of my tunes, so I am grateful for that reminder of continually checking oneself critically, and repeat the same mistake every time.
    Pride cometh before a fall they say 🙂

  92. This is all such good stuff. Thank you guys for sharing real with me. Writing about what is hard and what is encouraging is real stuff. i am grateful for you who play because you have music in you. that’s why we do it, right? Thank you guys. you rock.

  93. Always love your approach Jason. Have you read “Effortless Mastery” by the Jazz pianist Kenny Werner? He talks at length about letting go of the outcome (and our ego attachments that go with this) and to fully engage in the present moment of making music. And he really emphasizes the joy of mastering the fundamental skills and not being all urgent and relentlessly impatient toward some future achievement. His ideas apply to anything not just learning music. It’s really about getting out of our own way and allowing the music that is within us all to arise and unfold. Thank you Jason for all that you do. I feel blessed to have discovered Fiddlehed and am enjoying learning from you immensely!

  94. I think what you’re doing with your life is sharing the gift of music by posting lessons,tips and advice. I’m taking classical violin lessons to learn solid foundation and fundamentals. I don’t wish to play classical music. I study some old time tunes but don’t wish to play about boiling cabbage. My goal is to play with a guitar player or small group and a couple of your videos are the only place I’ve seen information on this anywhere. So thank you for doing this with your life.

  95. Ha ha!!! Double stops uneven??? Ha! I wonder why my doublestops don’t even sound like doublestops!!!

    This was a good description of what happens to me (and probably everybody), not just with music but with career, hobbies and important life choices, like to marry or not, have kids or not, and just about anything and everything.

    Here’s 2 things I thought of right away that you have taught that have helped me with my doubting regarding fiddle:

    1. Play every day. Even I can do that! I might sound like crap (The Bassett hound cries when I play) but I always remember to play every day.

    2. Looping. Sounds almost obvious, but I sure did not do that or even think of it before Fiddlehed. Looping has helped a lot – to get started on a new piece and then to navigate through harder parts that just don’t seem to sound right.

    Thanks for sharing your experience! It helps this newbie to know that even a smooth fiddler has these struggles. Kind of a good example of how we all need each other, too.

    1. My beloved Lab, Lola, got up and left the room when I starting playing 4 years ago. We said goodbye to Lola in November, at the age of 13+, and in her last couple years she had become quite a fan of my playing. Not only did she stop leaving the room, she moved closer to me. Over time I discovered that she truly liked certain tunes better than others, I became her mama iPod.

  96. Thank you for this honest, thoughtful comment, Jason. It really helps a lot. While I am an intermediate player, learning and playing for four years now, I still have tremendous bouts of doubt from time to time. I feel I am not where I should be, etc. Fiddle playing is hard; it is a tough instrument to master for sure. Your words are so honest and encouraging, and just hearing you speak of doubt in someone who’s been playing as long as you have and what a professional you are, really helps us learners who are struggling with intonation, double stops, keeping the bow straight, etc. Thank you so much for all you do!!

  97. Of the tunes that I’ve played, there are many that I find I can’t hum in the shower by just remembering the name of the tune. I have to play a note or two, and then can remember at least a good part of the tune, but maybe not the name of it! I wonder why?? I can hum “Take me out to the ballgame,”and “Yesterday,” by the Beatles. Is it not enough repetition? I can not sit down and say, “now I am going to play Bill Cheatham.

  98. Jason,

    As ever, you pour your mind and soul out for us and I, for one, am very grateful to hear it. Cate said it also, but what you are giving to the musical world is positive and wonderful. Your musings came to a great point- it isn’t your path to spend a life time learning Indian music, and to admit that is not anathema- you are no imposter, only someone open to learning and hopefully you were humble in your approach to do so.

    I hope you enjoyed your trip- I really do. I hope it was a relaxing experience and that you didn’t get caught up in a mentality of stressful learning and I hope this doubt that plagued you was only temporary, because you deserved some true peace…

    I actually ran out of good words to say right about here, so please just, like, feel some positive vibes and continue on, knowing that you are helping so many people, and that is a path that is MORE THAN worthy of praise.


  99. Good thoughts, and spot on. I used to think I shouldn’t even waste my time trying to play anything at all because I’m not dedicated to music and have little to no native talent. But I love music, and I love making music (or, at least, trying to!) so I do it anyhow. You’re obviously a talented musician and teacher, but you also ventured into the unknown and I’m glad you shared your doubts here. I think a lot of amateurs and adult learners are held back by the idea that we should only pursue something if we’re both dedicated and talented. Hogwash, I say! I used to feel guilty about my old student violin mouldering in the closet and then I found fiddlehed on youtube. I’ve played nearly every day since then. Not particularly well, but not always horribly either. And it’s made my days happier.

  100. Motivation: I’m super goal-oriented, so I have mini-goals (learn these X tunes to play in beginner/intermediate session) and an overarching goal (be able to eventually play Irish tunes at full speed in a pub session). Each tune is like a puzzle, and when I solve one, it makes me want to learn more. It’s like a feedback loop!

    The other thing that drives me to practice is often a matter of pure habit/discipline, and a sort of “reward system”. I usually play around the same time each day, and I have a tracker graph in my planner in which I color in a square for each day I practice — my goal is to have no empty squares at the end of a month. Also, I just started a dedicated practice journal in which I plan ahead what I’m going to do for practice the next day (broken into three categories: technique, new tune(s), review). Finally, I make sure my fiddle is easily accessible: I have a hanger on my music stand for both fiddle and bow, and I have a clip-on tuner there as well, so all I have to do is pick up my instrument and tune up and play; the only time my fiddle is in its case is when I’m taking it somewhere.

  101. A lot of people I meet want to play an instrument, most want to wake up one morning playing their instrument of choice. Daily practice depend more on discipline than motivation. Sometimes it’s work, sometimes it’s fun. It is always rewarding. The series of lessons about melodic variations in playing scales makes scales fun. Not an easy task, but if you play more you sound better. When you sound better you play more.

  102. Like Skitter, keeping my fiddle out of the case is key to practicing. I’m not as focused and goal oriented as I should be to progress at a steadier pace, but the fiddle and bow hang on a hook on a beam in my timber frame home unless I’m taking it somewhere.Not only does the fiddle look way cool, it invites me to play.

  103. The account of life on the road reads exactly like some biographies of famous performers I’ve read. All bling and glory on stage; grim and gory in the backstage reality. Good mates hanging together, plus the ecstacy of the magic when it all comes together, the sum is far, far greater than the parts. Joseph Campbell said it best, in the “Hero’s Journey” … follow your bliss. Today it seems tough; tomorrow, looking back, it looks better. Years from now, off the road, it will be a long-lost treasure. I’m 77; 78 in July where I’ll be attending the state Old Time Fiddler workshops to get back my guitar groove (and hang around the good fiddlers with my new (old) fiddle you’re teaching me to play in hand). The only true Hell is regret. You can’t go back and do a damned thing over. So hang in there. You’re touching a lot of lives, and that’s pretty rare in this life.

    Speaking of buskers, we live on an island. Across the salty strait is the magical town of Port Townsend. Buskers abound. Somebody might get a smile out of this photo I took last summer during a walk-about along the town’s waterfront street:


  104. Ten years ago, at the age of 43, during my first fun mid-life crisis I borrowed my sisters old grade school violin and attempted to learn a few drinking songs and maybe a waltz or two to entertain my buddies…. with no music knowledge, instruction, or plan. I simply tried to gut my way through it as has actually worked for me in so many other areas of my life. I wrote my own tabulature for Ashokin Farewell (yeah, my starting song) and spent oodles of time trying to make it work. Fear or shame of failure is what kept me going. Completely idiotic, completely un-fun. And completely failed, of course.

    Now, ten years later, and several more “mid” life crisis’s later(don’t get me wrong-I enjoy them), I have again picked up the fiddle to give it another go about four weeks ago. But this time I am embracing the patience required. I have completely surrendered to the FiddleHed gameplan/syllabus. So so so much better. It is actually fun and without pressure. And my progress is actually faster…by taking it slower. Imagine that. Magic.

    Thanks FiddleHed guy… for reminding me to keep the fun in what is meant to be fun. I still may fail, but I will have a better time getting there.


  105. I’ve always loved fiddle music but thought it must be too difficult for a person like me to learn. I couldn’t even read music-I can still only decipher notes with careful study and it will be a long time before I’ll be able to play from sheet music. But last December I got a student fiddle and started Fiddlehed lessons. I turned 60 at the end of January and want to be able to fiddle with a group by the time I retire. My goals are to practice daily and develop better sound until someday I can play without embarrassment. Thanks Jason for your efforts.

  106. Jason.you are more than a jack of all trades,you are a master teacher, I was born visually impaired and have always loved the nuanced sounds of the violin, and in Scotland ceildhs are part of the fabric,my birthday is even on Burns Night and every year I say I wish I could his wonderful songs,Auld lanng Syne is one of his and you have that as a beginner tune,I digress, I am waiting for the trad fiddle music lessons to begin,te tutor also takes the Scottish youth fiddle orchestra and won’t be available for a couple of weeks,so I liked on you tube for a stop gap and found you,not a sop gap any more,Have learned so much from you,even though I can’t see the strings,no problem,stop and rock,learn scales everything,vision not required,you have given me so much more than lessons,just the sheer joy of learning to make the open string sound good,I am totally in love with learning the different sounds ,It’s a queer thing but it has added such a rich ness to my life,beautiful tapestryof sound,I love your lessons,Love jane

  107. I’m having to learn to read music in a violin class and I find that if I get the first 2-3 measures down it helps me get a sense of the tune and the rest goes a bit easier. Great advice as always -thank you

  108. I love this!!! My friends often play old time tunes so fast and with so many double stops and embellishments that I cannot even figure out what key they are in, much less the melody. I have been toying with the fiddle for years but gave up as often as I tried to learn it. So glad to have FiddleHed to learn from at my own pace!

  109. Your insights amaze me; obviously, you’ve been there.
    I’m 77, 78 in July. Time is short. I’m trying to learn the fiddle. I’m also retoughening my guitar-chording callouses after years and years away from it. At the same time, I’m making a deliberate effort to learn finger-picking on my guitar. Too often my fingers won’t obey and I fumble on the guitar, and the fiddle will sound dull and lifeless. But I know that it will sing with more care and effort. An hour later I can play a cascading series of finger-plucked guitar notes, and the fiddle will again sing. My wife in her sewing room compliments me: “it sounds good,” she says.
    After more than three-quarters of a century, I can truthfully advise: the most terrible agony is regret. Don’t let failure to perservere be yet another regret. No one stops walking after a stumble. Pick it up and take another step.

    1. Thank you graybyrd!
      You inspire us fellow beginners! I’m in my mid-40s, and am trying not to listen to the voices whispering that only people who started as children will ever be able to play well. I dont need to turn pro to be satisfied, but it would be nice to get good enough to play Irish Washerwoman some night with a little Irish ensemble at the local coffee house, or to learn enough double stops to play along at a Bluegrass festival parking lot jam session.
      And I, too, cannot bear regret. I’m old enough now to have had some. It is a most hateful, ugly thing, and I do anything possible to avoid it. Thank you for the reminder that I don’t want to create another one by giving up on this music that would make me so happy!
      Very best wishes!

  110. I like to “get in the zone” almost a meditation with the drone. I start each practice that way and it just feels good. The tunes I learn or the progress I make are secondary – I think the the fiddle is very much a soul instrument, like a drum. In fact,the drum is the only other instrument that has that quality of meditation for me. But the fiddle goes beyond with the melody and takes me to yet another place. So I do it for joy, but also for relaxation, for peace, for escape and for playing some of the coolest fiddle tunes! So I play almost everyday, but I don’t have to force. If I miss a practice, it is very much missed – I feel longing for the next time I get to play. It is truly something I love. Thanks for your help on the journey.

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  112. Thank you Jason for posting this article and thank you graybyrd for your inspiring words. I had a rough practice session today so this was a EXCELLENT pick me up to read. Keep on making that fiddle talk, keep on makin that fiddle sing graybyrd!

  113. This is very encouraging. I’m going to start memorizing all my favorite pieces. I have a few memorized but not all of them, so I’ll make it a goal. I’ve always felt a little overwhelmed by the prospect of memorization, but now that you said it, it makes sense that it would help me focus on and improve other parts of the tune, if it’s already memorized. Thanks for writing this! 🎻🙂❤️

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  115. I am 57 and truly trying to learn something new, both for the synaps (?) firing and my own piece of mind. Loving the process and totally loving you Mr. ‘Fiddlehed’! Fun. alone. making some scary sounds and alot of good ones too! I truly look forward each day to my practice! Had childhood music and lifelong love of listening. Hoping this whole thing carries me toward the next 20+ years of playing, having fun and listening more!

  116. I too started the viola at age 58 … it’s been 6 months and I am so glad I took the plunge and went forward with it. Fiddlehead is a fantastic resource of learning methods and encouragement !

  117. Thank you graybyrd, I’m 56 started learning the fiddle in Feb, I so times think I haven’t made much progress, but I started to record myself every couple of weeks and realise that it does sound better on the open strings, not so much on scales, but your post really cheered me up, all the best to you and your wee wife from scotland

  118. Thanks for the wise words, graybird! I’m 65 and trying to learn. Some days seem to go smoothly and I’m sounding ok while others I wonder why I’m doing this. I keep trying to maintain what the Buddhists call the beginners mind. I’m trying to stay focused on the present as opposed to wondering why I’m not at the future yet. I sometimes battle with my need to get it right. Daily practice is really helping me to get better little by little. Thanks Jason. You are awesome.

  119. You have the gift to explain things to those of us who struggle with learning. We all have anxiety, I believe, although we hide it well .. it feels good to read that it is part of a normal learning process. You are very humble and honest. I love all kinds of music and always have music playing, especially when I am gardening. Indian music is the best for the plants to grow, the vibrations of this music has shown this to be the best also the peaceful Hangdrum. There are many sites that show the science of music and plants. I’ve just signed up and look forward to many happy hours of practise!

  120. I really appreciate your step by step encouraging philosophy to learning to play music. The “How to play In Tune” course has been very helpful and the time goes by quickly while I am practicing with your suggested techniques! Thanks! Tunes are sounding better too!

  121. I love the encouragement as a middle-aged beginner!! I’ve tinkered with fiddle once or twice over the years, but never seriously until now. The FiddleHed lessons give me structure, a huge variety of tunes to choose from, “someone” to play with (the backing tracks), and great entertainment. Sometimes I listen to FiddleHed YouTube videos for fun while I’m driving.

    Although this is harder than any instrument I’ve learned, it’s also the most rewarding to accomplish. I’m more proud of calling myself a fiddler than I ever was during years of piano and professional guitar playing.

    Sure, my brain and fingers aren’t as fast as they once were. My hearing is changing. My right wrist has begun to hurt from playing. I’m constantly reminded that adults can’t master violin. But I’m having too much fun to let any of this stop me now. With FiddleHed I might really make it this time!

  122. I know this sounds a bit immature, but i bought a bunch of rainbow, stars, and heart stickers…some are bigger than others. I printed the awesome fiddlehed calendar and for everyday I practice, I put a sticker in the box..if it was a long practice day 45 mins or more…I put a big rainbow sticker in there..it makes me happy to see so many stickers at the end of the month and motivates me to “earn my sticker”…if I don’t feel like practicing on the occasional day, i give myself permission to intentionally not practice that day, instead of just “forgetting” or “putting it off”..when I do that, it reminds me that commitment to an instrument is my CHOICE and i seem to be anxious to play the next day. Just my 2 cents, and probably worth as much as you paid for it..LOL. Jason thank you for your amazing work on Fiddlehed and keeping us excited! This program is really great. I love it. Wendy

  123. Hi I’m new to the course, but so far I love everything I have seen! Your play-along practice tracks are just what I have been looking for – and I even like your sense o humor! I anticipate being with you a long time!

  124. I am 67 and I just started this past February. Thank you all for making me realize I’m not alone! I fell in love with the violin years ago, but never had the confidence to try. But when I heard Taylor Davis play – I knew that I wanted to “Play” … and I will ! And Jason, you’re the greatest … you make it fun!

  125. Lin, yes my intonation became very good when I had a very picky teacher. Playing with others helps greatly if you are listening AND they play in tune too.

    I learned that the violin has many G#s some a tad higher and some a tad lower depending on the mood of the piece and if playing with others.

    Note: playing something imprecisely 1000 times but with good tone and bowing technique still creates positive results.

  126. As an adult learner, the benefits of fiddling are so vast! I get to be a beginner at something again. I am learning to be kind and patient with myself for sounding awful (a lot!) and sometimes my playing just flows and sounds great. This is amazing to me. Right now, playing the fiddle gets to be the one thing in my life that is just for me, but at some point is see how it will connect me to others and be a gift I can share. It has also taught me more about listening to music…melody and tempo, not just how it makes me feel.

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  132. hi Jason’s
    , english is not my mothertongue .. first of all i wish to undestand the real synonim of ” drone scales or playing or whatever attached to the Drone word ..”
    second ,full understand your system of work that it looks quite logic and similar to my point of wiew

    everyday practice is a goal

    unfortunately not always possible as , i guess , neurones have to adapt to the inputs,assimilate or otherwise after a while is the reject the little burn out .. of course it is always relative to our age ..
    teke care theo

  133. You just solved my problem, thank you! I was struggling with all the possibilities that music offers and I like too many styles too. Becoming so stressed not to be able to make up my mind wich style to choose. Now you made me see that its allright, I don’t have to make a choice, Jay!!! Because its not my goal to become master in one style, I am allowed to be happy playing all kind of styles and it doesn’t have to be perfect!
    The problem is that other people cannot handle it when they cannot put you in a certain box, they become frustrated: “What is your style? Make up your mind!” Now I can tell them: that’s not my goal, and that’s a choice too, and it’s allright! Jay!!!

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  135. I’m not so sure as a beginning fiddler that it’s is good to / for other people.
    Even my dog who thinks I’m the best because I can open doors and the fridge looks at me with my fiddle with that must you? look.

  136. Right now I’m trying to “perfect” the 12 bar blues bass walk in G (first string).
    I’m very proficient at electric lead guitar but this instrument of humility is giving me a run for my money. Especially the C part.
    I feel it’s going to be good to be able to get that down as it causes me to have to fret a lot in different fret positions.

    Yes I have frets on my fiddle. Acoustic guitar geared tuners too.

  137. I’m 56 and want to get good enough on the fiddle to be able to do my own fiddle tracks so I dont have to keep paying fiddlers and trying to convey what I want. I’m delighted that the mando is tuned the same way as I often think, hmm mando doing this or that there would be cool.

  138. this was great. Thanks Jaso’n and Fiona…it is good to see the benefits of being an older student. For some of us, it is a bit humbling to be a beginner again at something..I love fiona’s approach….stealing! xoxo w

  139. For a while there, I was dedicating 30 minutes each practice session to scales, arpeggios, etc., before trying some of my favorite Irish tunes. Then, I tried to incorporate my pinkie. It threw me for a loop and into a downward (practice) spiral. I’m back on the horse now, but my “music” still sounds like someone stabbed the bagpipes.
    My new T-shirt will read, “Play like no one is listening (and hope they’re not).”
    P.S. If you ever want to clear a park, whip out the (beginner) violin. 🙂

  140. About that “practice every day” thing….not a problem. I’ve had my fiddle for two months now and have not yet missed a day of practice. Sometimes I play twice a day. OK, I confess, sometimes three times a day… If this keeps up, I may need to find a good 12 step program….fiddler’s anonymous? 😉😆
    Thanks for the great website and lessons!

  141. I used to love listening to my sister’s folk group recordings and picking out her voice. When my sisters sing together I am always amazed at how different in style our voices all are. Beautiful breathy and low Becca, pitch pure and high El, gentle but clear Catherine. I’ve always wished I had an accent to give my voice character but I guess even my sound adds to the spectrum.:-)

  142. Hey Jason,

    Ran into a busy week, this one. But pretty much practice every day, sometimes multiple times. I am a full-time caregiver for my wife, with hired help. Most time she will enjoy my scales or melodic rhythms, while I feed her dinner. The fiddle has become a large part of my life. I love learning the chords; learning to play in tune; working on tone. I have recently found a local place where there may be jams. Shortly, I will garner the courage to hiire someone to watch my dear one, while I go make a fool of myself. When do I renew my annual lessons?

    Owen O’Malley

    1. Hey Owen,

      Your yearly membership ends on November 28, 2018. And you should be notified before it expires.

      It is a true blessing to give the gift of our music to our loved ones. I am happy to hear your life, and the lives around you, are benefiting from the joys of the fiddle.

      Thank you for being apart of FiddleHed!


  143. I decided to try the micro practice sheet but I had some trouble downloading it. I looked and the link and noticed it was a concatenation of the same link twice, see below.


    I tried just using the first half (below) and it downloaded just fine, so i thought I would post here in case anyone was having similar issues.


    Really enjoying the site. Thanks

  144. I am so impressed with all you have done! I have not kept up with my lessons and think a practice/buddy group sounds like a great motivator!! (Kind of like going to exercise classes even though I have unused equipment at home!)

  145. I had to laugh at the idea that what I’m playing now is better than it was six months ago…because as of today, I’ve only been playing for three months. (Haven’t missed a day of practicing yet!) I’ve been recording weekly and then monthly “Marco Polo” app videos of my progress and sending them to my daughter in law in another state. It’s a good thing she loves me….because there’s a whole lotta screeching going on! 😝🙄
    But it’s getting better. Slowly. 😆 I agree, recording is a really good idea. It shows me what I need to work on, and gives me some encouragement that I am, in fact, improving. I wonder what I’ll sound like six months from now?😊

  146. Hello Jaso’n,

    I tried this technique today with a tune called The Orphan and it worked for me. Thank you for all of these very useful tips.
    Tapping myself is a revelation, and I laugh as I write this having hope that it can only get better.
    I did discover the result of playing a loop over and over again until it becomes second nature, and I love that.

    I also tried playing a tune for ten minutes straight with a tune called Jessica’s Polka, and I realized I can play something from memory. That also gives me hope for many more tunes in the future.

  147. I have no idea how many different ways I can play a scale. I’ve not tried them all out yet. One day at a time.
    I’ve been at this violin thing for less than a year. Every day, my first task is whatever tune I’m going to play, I play that scale. Long slow bows. In thirds, working up the length of the bow and back down again, down the scale and back up again. Then, play my scales to the tempo of the tune I want to play. Then I add in the rhythm. Everything I have to do in the tune, I do with the scales first. It takes me twenty minutes before I’m ready for the tune I want to learn. If I get myself into a fankle and can’t do it. I go back to just open string bows across all four, then my scales and use things like you teach. Tuka, Hoe down, throw-aways, to reset my brain and fingers.
    If I’m not in the mood, or just don’t have much time. to do much tune practice then I’ll do simple scale variations like A-A-B-A-A-B-B-C-B-B-C-C-D…I don’t do that so much as a daily routine because I’m trying to train my ears and be done with tuner.

  148. Hi Jaso’n, I just watched your appetizer video and read your post. I guess I’ll give it a try, although I do think scales are boring. I’ll try to do like you said, think of them as just short songs. I like the sound of a hammer-on and pull-off so I will add that to practicing scales. Gotta tell you, your drawings really kill me! Okay, off to play scales all kinds of ways!

    lukidog (Mary)

  149. How many different ways to play scales….humm….I must admit I haven’t done them very much…but that is about to change. I love the idea of fast, slow, rhythmically, in a different room, standing and sitting. I’m going to try them all. Thanks for those tips.

    So many times I have listened to Irish music and wondered “just how do they do that”, getting all those little nuances that I have always thought you had to be born with. I think Martin Hayes is my favorite of all the Irish fiddlers ( And there are so many more I love, as well)

    This is a little off Irish, but I have read this book twice already, called The Music Lesson by Victor Wooten, who is a bass player in the jazz/pop/every other genre world, that I share with you, for your enjoyment.

    Wel,l on to the many ways to play scales & thanks again,

    1. Hey Linda,

      Just go into scale variation with a sense of curiosity and fun.

      Martin Hayes might be my favorite Irish fiddler too. I love the way he has re-invented the music.

      My bandmates have read the Victor Wooten book and liked it. I wanna get to it soon. Thanks for the recommendation.

  150. Hmm,, well omitting the obvious and striking quickly out of the box, You can play a scale in tune or not in tune…
    One of the elements that keeps me going is using bits and pieces of Jason’s sage advice, like ” want to play, and listen to the voice inside honestly “, but beyond all the lists of technical expression, I’ve been getting closer and closer to the feel of the the fiddle, the vibrations, the various harmonic reflexes my instrument gives me, and the quiet in between them. Its nice to learn new songs, and nice to get quicker, and nice to learn new to learn new tricks, variations, etc. but I have learned to to enjoy the bond I’m building with the instrument. Like, for example, my fiddle wakes up about as quick as my fingers, ( not immediately ), and once it is awake, It shares unpredictably its secret past, like a budding romance, revealing in time some hidden secrets. I imagine it has been played well before, perhaps has either shared or produced tears, joyful and sad, and so has a heart and as sure as the metaphor i’m juggling here could be a dear friend.

  151. When I practice my scales I use to start improvising, playing the notes disorderly, randomly, so that I have infinite possibilities of variations …
    But should I stay disciplined and really just play the scale from bottom to top and top to bottom?

    And I like to go to my bathroom, the sound is stunning there and what I play seem so brilliant then ! I would like this sound and freedom when I play a tune, which often seems boring and dull. But I feel you can help me to achieve that Jason, cause you are so great !

    Ps : I’m french and I hope my english is correct

    1. Good question.

      I recommend starting by playing the scale up and down, with and without variation.

      It’s good that you improvise!

      I recommend returning to the scale before moving on to other things. This is nice closure.

      Thanks for sharing…

  152. Hi Jason, here’s my answer. I have all these written up and pick a few ideas out when I practice. You’ll be pleased to hear that I got a lot of these ideas from your lessons. Cheers.

    – melodic: changing note order in groups of 2 or 3, doubling notes, tripling notes
    – rhythmic: straight, hornpipe, strathspey
    – bow: long, short, hard, soft, split movement into 1/3s, split into 1/4s etc, moving towards and away from bridge in 1/2 bows, 1/3 bows, etc, using different string crossing bowings, only use up or down bows
    – speed
    – arpeggios of each scale, pentatonic
    – ornaments: rolls, bow triplets, cuts, slides, vibrato
    – double-stopped
    – misc: saying the note names as I play, reading the sheet music as I play, adding an extra note at the top of the scale

      1. Hi, mainly focused on English, Scottish and Irish but only because that’s what people play in the sessions I go to (here in Yorkshire). I’ve only ever dabbled in simple variations with ornaments (cuts, rolls, bow triplets). Definitely interested in learning more melodic and rhythmic variations.

  153. Thanks for searching out all of these excellent examples of Irish music. I enjoyed each and everyone one of them and will go back and listen again and again. I love how some start out slow and get faster and faster…so fast, I think it must be a miracle to be able to do that. :). Love John Galway & Matt Malloy playing together. Makes me want to get my tin whistle back out….. And Sinead O’Connor’s lovely performance of Danny Boy.

    Thanks again for all the time and effort you put into these lessons,

  154. I practice about five of these daily. It really helps to get the sounds into my brain. Then I can use the ones I want to improvise. I’m trying to play with a guitar player. At first I was terrible, now I’m merely not good. That’s real progress for me!!!!!!

  155. Settling into the scales with each of your suggested ways highlighted areas where my technique is weaker. Where my wrist shakes in the middle of a long bow, or my string crossing gets messy, or the quality of tone slips with the change of bow direction or my bow drifts one way or the other. It feels revolutionary to strip away the melody and order of the notes in a tune to be able to catch these simple parts of technique, to focus on smoothing out that quality in those moments, repeating that section of the scale until the tone deepens, or the long bow is steady for the whole stretch. Long-bow-slow versus long-bow-fast requires a different awareness of the pressure on the strings. I also started to gain awareness of the path of my bow hand through the air, which in turn changed the quality of the tone in the instrument. All that in just 20 minutes.I could really sink into each note and could see how I could spend a lot more time right there in the scale.

    I was then excited to turn to a challenging section of a tune I’ve been struggling with and apply the same study of transition while looping that section – slow, long, short, quiet, loud, bow path until I was getting the tone I was looking for, to match the tone I was able to get with easier sections of the tune. I hadn’t quite figured out how to fix that phrase yet. So cool!

    Additional variations: Stiff/relaxed, Still/moving, staccato, accented, even, smooth.

  156. My scales routine:
    -Slowly. Work on finger placement and bowing making sure I get them just right. 2x
    -Jig Bowing. Long, short, short. Allows me to work on my bowing. 2x
    -Triplets. 2x
    -Slurring the notes.
    -Vibrato. I still have not mastered it. I try to get through the scale. 1x.

    When I first started learning I did triplets slowly the increased it each round until I was going too fast. It was fun and the closet thing to Irish music that I could do.

  157. descending and ascending, slow, fast, soft, loud, rhythms like tucka tucka, hoedown, perididdle, periwinkle, saw bow, Nashville shuffle, slides, throw away, broken thirds, trills, Irish rolls, double stops, chops, pulse the note with bow, variations of long and short bows, strathspey, arpeggios, slurring, jig bowings, blues scales in all the variations, long bows, playing standing up and outside. I only use the tuner now to get my open strings in tune and am playing by ear. I use the keyboard for intonation and song recordings and backing tracks and recording myself and I see where I am weak and hesitate in my playing.

  158. I like Amelias waltz. In the second fraise the melody drops to a pretty minor. The way I learned the notes, the rhythm wouldn’t lend to dancing the waltz, so Ive learned to add my version of a swing, as though the dance was the lead for the rhythm. One recording Ive heard is done by Natalia MacMaster. This recording is filled with lovely variations, and a real joy to listen to.

  159. If I were choosing a tune to add variation to, it would be Jessica’s Polka. It is one I know by heart and it just goes on and on….could use a little variation. And also Midnight on the Water … maybe that’s a little off Irish … but a cool tune.

    Thanks again for these appetizers and I think I’m gonna go get a snack right now, also


  160. The other night we were playing the 3/4 waltz version of Star of the County Down and one of the group felt we were plodding through it. Some of the sadder tunes, as someone commented above, might use just a slight lilt with some variation.

  161. I like to practice scales with a drone. Working on the F Major scale at the moment. Even started to play outside, with a mute on…. I played my scale with all the long bow,short bow, triplets etc. To be honest I know I don’t practice scales enough. Played around with arpeggios. Started to make my own little tunes up. I’ve been playing for 4 years now following you all the way. When I heard you playing against a drone something connected with me. I’ve even put some of my musings on my own YouTube channel called Ghost Within. I’d love you to check it out and tell me what you think. Thanks Jason

  162. Thank you very much for another thought provoking video.
    If I could play “The Pretty Girl (Maid) Milking Her Cow” I would love to add a variation
    simply because I could spend more time with the tune. I have been learning to play the fiddle for
    about a year. So, perhaps you may conjure up a beginner friendly version of “The Pretty Girl…”

  163. I would like to be able to jam
    Play back up with a group


    Love your videos and lessons

    I noticed that one of your suggested books was written by Deborah Greenblatt

    I took a few lessons from her years ago in Omaha before she moved to the old schoolhouse in rural Nebraska

    I remember entering their house by just stepping through the screen door because the screen was missing.

    I took the lessons in the living room while her husband walked in and through the room

    She was a great teacher but I was self conscious and shy and they were both accomplished musicians and I felt out of place

  164. Not sure if this is the answer you want but… I love Celtic music but my main goal is to perform for a group of senior citizens. Normally I host parties for them and I would like to try and have a little concert for them. Thankfully this goal has motivated me to practice more. Not sounding any better but I am practicing almost every day! LOL!

  165. The reason I joined fiddlehed was to knock some things off my “bucket list.”

    I will be moving to an island in the northern part of Lake Michigan, populated by a bunch of people of Irish decent (me too), when I retire. I found myself saying, “When I retire I’m going to…” Much of it centering around music and fiddling.

    Then I decided, why wait? So I did some exploring and found Fiddlehed.

    I’m really looking forward to Irish variations. One one day I will join open mic night at the Shamrock Irish Pub.

  166. Thanks for putting this together. I always ask for tune names at the local sessions, hoping to do as lhume says and start absorbing by osmosis while I’m sat at work. But it’s a lot of effort trying to find a decent recording and get organised with a playlist.

    The other problem I have is that if I ever stray outside of my regular sessions I find I don’t know anything they’re playing. So it’s always nice to hear other people’s takes on a “recommended Irish” playlist and fill in more gaps. Actually having said that, I reckon I’m already familiar with a good 3/4 of this list, so it’s quite nice to think that maybe I’m on the way to turning up a random session and having enough of a shared repertoire to play into the early hours!

  167. +1 for Kefunken and Star of the County Down.

    If I had to pick just one I’d say The Road to Lisdoonvarna. It’s one of the few tunes I have confidence enough to play through down the pub (even after a few pints) so I suppose it’s about time I try and take it up a notch!

  168. Ah, yes. My favorite is “I don’t have to do this, I get to do this!” I can apply that sentiment to all of my most meaningful work (wife, mother, farm worker, teacher, and amateur fiddle player. Lately, the ‘this’ wrt fiddling is immersing myself in the D maj scale and developing my ear, and playing the same few songs over and over. Sometimes, I hear my family humming Kerry Polka, Will The Circle Be Unbroken, or Kerfunken Jig, and I realize that however dissatisfied I am with my playing, I sound good enough to please the people around me. Even if my timing is way off and my e string rattles and my b natural is somehow always slightly flat (except for sometimes when it’s sharp enough to approach c natural…)

  169. Jason i was automatically signed up for the annual subscription which i wanted, but on second thought i was thinking about the Ultimate subscription as it includes the Irish Variation course. Does the Irish course included in the Ultimate subscription last a lifetime or is that only if purchased separately?

    1. Good question Nettie. The Irish course bought separately is a lifetime subscription. The Ultimate subscription includes it for the duration of the subscription (one year). Does that make sense? Let me know if you have more questions. 

  170. Thanks Jason for again a lovely post. It reminds me of this quote 🙂

    Legendary cellist and humanitarian Pablo Casals was interviewed by George Carlin. Carlin asked him why, at age 93, he still practiced three hours a day.

    The Maestro’s response: “I’m beginning to show some improvement.”

    Enjoy the music folks!

  171. Jason, I am so glad I found your website. I haven’t played my fiddle in a long time, mostly because I reached a plateau and could push through it, wasn’t getting any better. Your style has renewed my interest, thanks again!

  172. Hi Jaso’n,

    I’m having the same issue as Joel. When I apply the coupon code “LiltingMagic” the price resets to $120, but I get a red error code saying “ERROR: Your coupon code is invalid” and I’m prevented from moving to the payment page until I remove the code (upon doing so the price returns to $150.)

    Seems like a bug?



  173. You are a natural encourager!!! SO VERY GRATEFUL for you!!!
    You cause me to stick with it and celebrate any results as progress……and it works!
    Just a passing note of thanks…….. gotta go bow up on my swallowtail jig now 🙂 #proudMama #proudfiddler

  174. Hi J,
    In reading the comments it seems many of us are anxious when learning something new.

    I tell you. This last year has been a struggle for me. Not only learning the fiddle but keeping myself motivated so I don’t get too down on myself.

    I just noticed this week that I am able to actually hear the notes to play in tune. I thought there was something wrong with me, I just couldn’t decipher weather I was playing in tune or not. I was giving up at one point but forged on.
    Now I’m over that struggle lol
    Thanks so much for all your encouragement, it really makes a difference when I’m struggling.

  175. Hello Jason,
    the 19 august I’ve been automatically registered for another year of courses( I had the premium yearly subscription) but he problem is that I would like very much to take the irish courses,I would like to know what I’ve to pay for this,is it the difference between a premium yearly subscription and a premium yearly subscription ? I’m an intermediate player who plays mainly irish tunes,do you think it’s necessary for me to continue with the premium yearly subscription ? And what means “lifetime ” ? Sorry I don’t speak English very well …

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  178. Hello, I’m a dutch boy living on a Dutch island Terschelling. I’m 60 jears jong, my English writing is very bad. But I want to say I get I ensparit from jour lessons to go on whit my struggling on the violin. End I try it’s Egain from the beginning a gain and again. I enjoy jour lessons and I lissening also to Pablo Casals it gave my hoop. By the way, are there more Dutch people on jour lessons.? Goodbye from Willem.

    1. Hello Willem
      I am reading your post for the first time almost a year after you wrote it. I am not the Dutch boy you were looking for, but I am a Scottish boy whose blood is half Dutch. I have been using Fiddlehed for a few years, its a great site. I am few years older than you and Jason’s laid back style suits this old man perfectly. Gla