Play Every Thing Twice

A good rule of thumb is to play everything at least twice on the fiddle: scales, exercises, melodic phrases, and full tunes.

Notice what happens the second time through

  • Do your hands relax a bit?
  • Can you listen more closely to what you’re playing?
  • Does the mind relax? Can you move from thinking to playing? Does that piece you’re practicing flow a bit more?
  • How does the experience change on an emotional level? Do you feel less resistance to the fiddle as you play?
Most fiddle tunes have this repetition built in. You play the A part twice and then the B part twice.
And of course, there’s additional repetition within each part (like how the first and third quarters of a lot of tunes are the same). For awhile I was explaining this with Tune-mapping. I think it’s a bit nerdy ?, but diagrams are fun:
Notice that every phrase in Kerry Polka is repeated at least once. This is actually more repetition than most other tunes.

The long and the short of it

This is why fiddle tunes are such a good way to learn the instrument! They are designed with repetition so that you naturally get more thorough practice.
Of course, you can always play something more than twice. Even if you think you don’t need to play something twice, do it and see what happens.
Whatever level you’re at, use this simple rule of thumb to make your practice more fun and productive. Please let me know in a comment below how it goes for you.


Learn more about tune-mapping in the lesson: Repeating Patterns in Fiddle Tunes.

Also check out the post Repeat A Thousand Times.

OK, now go fiddle with it…

4 responses to “Play Every Thing Twice

  1. I usually play most things more than twice but I do find that sometimes I’ll end up getting careless if I repeat too often and start making mistakes. I’m not sure why. Lately I was travelling in Scotland in my Motorhome with my sister and she brought her guitar along. Then I could play many repeats without a mistake which means that playing with someone else really helps!? ( I had just seen your video about students uploading themselves playing and I really wanted to video us by Loch Ness practicing! But it rained when we were going to do it and the lighting in the Motorhome wasn’t too good! Maybe next time!)

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