Core Lesson Index
Here’s a listing of all the core lessons you have completed.
- Call-and-response Exercises 1.2
- Mary Had A Little Lamb – Hoedown Variation I
- How to play better in tune with an electronic tuner
- Drone tuning the notes on the D string
- Little Lift
- When The Saints Go Marching In
- Freres Jacques
- Fais Do Do – Beginner
- How to Place Finger Tape
- How to Read FiddleHed Tabs
- One Tune, One Scale, Ten Minutes
- A Major Scale
- Drone tuning the notes on the E string
- Blackest Crow – Basic
- Hector the Hero – basic lesson
- A Major Scale Variations
- Tunes Transposed to A Major (Upper Octave)
- Pentatonic Scales Introduction
- Tennessee Waltz
- O’Keefe’s Slide
- Man of Constant Sorrow
- Cripple Creek
- Britches Full of Stitches
- Tone Building on Tunes – Exercises
- Intervals Exercises III
- How to Get a Good Sound
- Module 1.7 Summary
- Mary Had A Little Lamb – Hoedown Variation II
- D and A Dorian Scale Practice
- Low Second Finger Exercises
- I’ll Fly Away
- Wayfaring Stranger
- Cluck Old Hen
- Shady Grove
- Angeline the Baker
- Slur Three Exercises
- Pedal Exercises II
- Low Second Finger
- 1.7 The Power of the Low Second Finger
- Module 1.8 Summary
- Shove That Pig’s Foot A Little Further In The Fire
- Whiskey Before Breakfast
- G and C Major Scale Practice
- Turkey in the Straw
- Bury Me Beneath the Weeping Willow Tree
- Soldier’s Joy – Beginner Version
- Yankee Doodle
- Road to Lisdonverna
- Girl I Left Behind Me
- Old Joe Clark – Basic Version
- Three Tunes in G Major Upper Octave
- Transposing Challenge 1.8
- How Dorian Scales Work
- Slur Four Exercises
- Low and High Second Finger Practice
- G and C Major Scales
- Melodic Scale Variation Exercises II
- Melodic Scale Variation II
- G Major Scale Two Octaves Exercise
- Old Joe Clarke – Variation 1
- Arkansas Traveller
- Module 1.10 Summary
- Slur Two-Separate Two Tune Exercises
- Slur Two-Separate Two Bowing in Tunes
- G Major Scale (Two Octaves)
- How to Practice Review Sets
- Shooting Creek – Intermediate
- Twenty-eighth of January
- Separate One-Slur Three Exercises
- Transposed Tunes Using Fourth Finger
- Separate One-Slur Three Bowing
- Module 2.1 Summary
- Introduction to the Fourth Finger
- Fourth Finger Exercises I
- The Butterfly
- The Wind That Shakes the Barley
- Haste to the Wedding
- Ballydesmond Polka – Upper Octave
- Hobart’s Transformation
- Melodic Scale Variation III
- Melodic Scale Variation Exercises III
- Blackberry Blossom
- Fingering and String Crossing Exercises II
- Fingering and String Crossing II
- I-IV-V Progression Exercises
- Irish Washerwoman
- Drowsy Maggie
- Introduction to I-IV-V Progressions
- Double Stop Exercises III
- Double Stops III
- F Major And B Flat Major Scale Variations
- Module 2.5 Summary
- Soldier’s Joy – Intermediate
- Melodic Scale Variation Exercises V
- Melodic Scale Variation V
- Super Easy Chord Backup
- Kesh Jig – Backup Chords
- Review Set #3
- Make your own scales
- Slur Eight
- Louis Louis – Fiddle Lesson
- Kerry Polka – Backup Chords
- Soldier’s Joy – Backup Chords
- Arkansas Traveller – Backup Chords
- Playing Chord Backup on Songs
- B Flat Major Scale (Upper Octave) Exercises
- Low Fourth Finger
- Done Gone
- Berdichiever Khosid
- House of the Rising Sun
- Tunes Transposed with Low Fourth Finger
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 are drones for the most common fiddle keys. A D drone can be used to practice tunes in D major or D minor (Dorian or Aeolian).
For drones in different keys as well as different textures and beats, go to: Drone Central.
Learn more about how to play in tune with drones here: Drone tuning the notes on the D string.
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.
For more scale play-along tracks, go to Scale Central.
Short-short-short-short-long-long. Practice on D string:
Practice more: Fingering with Bowing Exercises
Long-short-short. Practice on D string:
1-2-3 notes per step. Practice D0-0-0-A0-0-0 with plucking:
Practice more: String Crossing Exercises
Long-short. Practice G0-0-2-2-D0-0-3-3-3-3-0-0 with the 'swing double' rhythm:
Here we play two notes per bow. Practice D0-1-1-0 with slur two:
Practice more: Slur Two Exercises
Here we play three notes per bow. Practice D0-1-2-2-1-0 with slur three:
Practice more: Slur Three Exercises
Here we play four notes per bow. Practice with D0-1-2-3, first time downbow, then upbow:
Practice more: Slur Four Exercises
Slur two-separate two
This forms a hoedown pattern (long-short-short). Practice it with D0-1-1-1:
Practice more: Slur Two-Separate Two Exercises
30-minute Tune Routine
- Tone and scale warmup: 5 minutes
- Interval warm-ups: 5 minutes
- Tune: 20 minutes
Find all play-along tracks for intervals here: Interval Central
One Tune, One Scale, Ten Minutes
- Play a scale for five minutes
- Play a tune using that scale for five minutes
- As a variation, just alternate between a tune and its scale for ten minutes
10-minute tuning routine
- Practice individual notes with a drone: 5 minutes
- So to practice D1, use an E drone. To practice, D2 use an F sharp drone
- If you're unsure what note you're playing, then use the Notefinder (found in another tab with this Practice Tools section)
Practice intervals with a drone: 5 minutes
- Pick a focus note to use as the drone
- So if you are practicing D3-A0, play along with a G drone (for D3); this will help you tune that note
20-minute review routines
- Single-drone routine
- Last 5-10 ten tunes
- A simpler routine is to just review the last 5-10 tunes you've learned in a twenty-minute session.
- Play the relevant scale before each tune you review.
Experiment combining or alternating routines.
It takes a minute for the notefinder image to appear. Thanks for your patience 🙏
- You are a musician if you PLAY EVERY DAY
- Find a consistent time and place to practice. Make it a habit, like brushing your teeth; that way you spend no energy in deciding to practice or not.
- Learn more: How To Practice Consistently
- Listening is practice too.
- Within a practice session, alternate between playing and listening.
- Learn more: Listening is practice too
- Slow down.
- This is cliché music teacher advice, but it’s what most students need to do.
- Learn more: Slow Down To Speed Up
- Sing what you play.
- Singing or humming (if you’re shy) will help you to play in tune as well as remember melodies.
- It can also be a lot of fun to alternate between singing and playing a phrase to song.
- Learn more: Singing and Playing Practice
- Practice audiation.
- Audiation is hearing music in your head. Actively practice this.
- Learn more: Audiation
- Loop it.
- Whatever level you’re at, you can benefit from looping small bits and phrases.
- Not only will it help your technique, but it will unlock your creativity and bring you joy.
- Learn more: Looping Practice
- Learn in very small increments.
- Single notes > bits > phrases > tunes
- Learn more: Micro-learning
- Drone on.
- Practicing with drones is pleasurable, and so you’ll be more likely to play every day.
- Drones will help you play better in tune.
- Learn more: Drone tuning the notes on the D string
- Be your own teacher.
- Make up your own exercises.
- Record yourself and listen back. This way you can pinpoint what’s most challenging.
- Learn more: Be Your Own Teacher
- Remember to sound good.
- 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.
- Learn more: Remember to Sound Good
- Practice Just To Practice
- Don't fixate on being great or perfect. Good is better than perfect.
- The moment you pick up the fiddle and play you have "made it".
- Learn more: Practice Just To Practice
Here are a few technical reminders to remember as you practice.
- Curve left-hand and right-hand fingers.
- Bend right thumb.
- Bend right arm and wrist.
- Use minimal energy.
- Left-hand fingers land on tips, not pads. This makes for more precise playing.
- Take time to focus on bowing during each practice session.
- Get the best possible sound on single notes using long bows, throwaway bow, rhythms. Even just a few minutes of this will drastically improve your sound.
- Use less bow.
- This is a rule of thumb for fiddle tunes, especially for when things are difficult.
- Continue to practice long bows. This will improve your overall sound.
- Play in the middle of the bow. This is the sweet spot.
- Use no extra energy or force for double stops.
- It's more a matter of getting the bow perfectly balanced between the two strings.
- Again, playing with less bow will help with this.
Left-hand fingering tips
- Keep fingers down when possible.
- For example, if you are rapidly playing D1-2, it is easier if you keep D1 down while fingering D2.
- Practice this on scales.
- Practice Little Lift
- Don't lift left-hand fingers too high. Let them just hover above the string.
- This allows you to play faster, better in tune and with more ease.
- Take a lesson on Little Lift.
- Practice challenging intervals
- Your fingers need a lot more time with things than your brain (which gets bored more easily).
- Find the most challenging interval from a tune, like D3-A1 in Oh Susannah, and practice that until you can play it with ease and joy.
- Use the exercises from Interval Central to go deeper with this.
Check in with the body
- Is it relaxed or tense? Are you breathing evenly?
- If you notice you are tense and not breathing evenly, simply pause on what you're currently practicing and play a single note. Make it sound nice. See if your body is more relaxed now.
- If you can play a single note with a relaxed body, then try more complex things: 2-note intervals, scales, simple tune phrases, whole tunes.
- Keep returning to single notes as a way to center yourself, relax and enjoy the process.
- Don't lift your left-hand fingers too high off the fingerboard. You only need to lift them about a millimeter.
- This saves energy and will allow you to play with more ease and speed.
- Practice: two-note intervals (like D1-2), scales, tune phrases, whole tunes.
- Keep your awareness on Little Lift as you practice more complex things.
- Take a short lesson: Little Lift
- If you find that sound is sloppy, try adding a little pause in between the notes. This gives your fingers time to find the next note. This is especially helpful with string crossing.
- Take a short lesson: A Little Pause
- Practice the "Stop n' Rock" exercises from String Crossing. Apply this idea to more complex string crossings.
- Students of all levels can do this to improve their technique.
Take short breaks
- It's easy to get caught up in practicing and not notice that the body is stiff and sore.
- Take short breaks to move, stretch and breathe.