From October 9-22, you and fiddle students around the world will make a music regular part of your life. The primary goal is to establish the habit of daily practice, and have the time of your life doing it!
I ask that you set two goals for the practice challenge:
Play every day.
Pick one challenging tune or skill you want to improve.
And there are three actions I will ask you take:
Track your practice.
Monitor your performance through recording.
Tell others what you are doing.
Click here if you’d like to be an active participant. Every few days, I will send an email to check in with you and cheer you on. Do you want to take the challenge but not get email from me? No worries. You’re still welcome to do the practice challenge on your own and use the provided materials.
I’m asking you to take yourself seriously as a musician. What does that mean? You are a musician if you play every day. I encourage you to approach the practice challenge with a sense of adventure and fun. What a great thing it is to play music, and you’re going to do it every day!
Play every day
The most important (and simplest) goal for you and any musician is to just play every day.
Some suggestions to help you practice consistently each day:
Have a regular time and place that you practice.
Make your instrument accessible.
Organize your practice.
Set a simple, realizable goal.
I suggest at least twenty minutes a day, more if you can. And less then twenty minutes a day is better than nothing! Read more in this article: How To Practice Consistently
Pick one challenging tune or skill to improve
Set an intention to work on one challenging thing during the Practice Challenge. It can be a tune, a technique or practice strategy such as reviewing older tunes. You can do other things as well, such as warmup scales and easy tunes.
Here are some examples of things you can focus on:
In the worksheet you’ll set your intention to practice a certain number of minutes per day. Use the practice wall calendar to put put a big fat X in the box for each day you reach your practice goal. Read more about this in these lessons:
If you know in advance that you have to miss practice on a specific day, write that in on your calendar or practice tracker before the challenge begins.
If you miss a day, don’t give up! Fourteen days is just a number. What really matters here is the habit of practice. I want music to be a part of your life, like eating and breathing. You just do it without thinking about it.
Monitor your performance through feedback
Once you have picked the challenging thing you want to work on, record yourself playing it. It doesn’t have to be high quality. I use the voice memos app on my smartphone for this all the time. You can also find free recording apps online.
After you’ve recorded yourself be sure to give it a date and title. Otherwise you’ll quickly lose track of which recording is which. Throughout the practice challenge you can monitor your feedback. On the last day of the practice challenge, listen to the first and last recording of that difficult thing you set out to practice. Take note of how it’s different.
Finally, I ask you to tell at least one other friend or family member that you are taking the practice challenge. By letting others know what that you are taking the practice challenge, you are more likely to succeed in your goal of playing every day.
Do you personally know anyone else who plays any instrument? If so, ask them if they want to join you in taking the Practice Challenge.
Would you like me to be one of those people who help you reach the goal? Just click here, and I’ll check in on how it’s going with you through email. I’ll be taking the practice challenge too!
You can join other FiddleHed students on the community forum and share your practice intentions and progress.
Remember, taking yourself seriously as a musician doesn’t mean that you don’t have fun. I’m certain that if you find a way to play every day you will enjoy it a lot more.
Thanks for taking part, now go fiddle with it…
Here is a quick way for you to access the essential practice tools you need. Under each tab you'll find play-along tracks, tabs and condensed teachings to help you as you practice. This is an evolving idea, so let me know in a comment below if it could be better.
Here's a newer version of the Notefinder which is based on sheet music. If you're interested in learning to read, this will be an invaluable reference. I'll be posting lessons on this in 2020.
Note: the brackets indicate notes that are the same pitch but spelled differently. For example, AH3 (D#) sounds the same as AL4 (Eb). Without going into too much teory detail here, this will be determined by the key of the tune or piece you are playing.
Here's he original table version of the Notefinder. Sometimes people learn in different ways...
Sawmill tuning Notefinder
This is used to find notes in Sawmill tuning (when the G string is tuned up to A and the D string is tuned up to E). If you're a beginner...best to ignore this! Learn more about sawmill tuning in the Appalachian Fiddle course.
Here are some common scales used in fiddle tunes. Each runs through a series of variations: two bows legato, two bows staccato, four bows, tucka (4 shorts, two longs), hoedown (1 long, two shorts), throwaway bow, triplets, tremolo.
G Major, starting on D3
Practice a tune with its scale (Kerry Polka is in G major, so practice a G major scale). Practice scales before, during and after practicing tunes.
Always return to a good sound, even if it means playing quarter notes on the D string. You can do this! You just have to remember to pause on practicing the challenging thing and just get a good sound on single notes.
Why do this? Because it will bring you deep joy. And it will build your confidence which will inspire further practice.