Welcome to the Fall Practice Challenge 2019!

Days you practiced so far:

Connect with other fiddlers on the the Practicipant Group Page.

If you forgot to mark a day, just go to the Practice Challenge Dashboard.

From October 7-20, you and fiddle students around the world will make music a 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! If music is a daily part of your life, then you are a musician. If you want to do this, you can. Simply do it every day.

Each day, I will send an email to check in with you and cheer you on. I also made a way for you to easily track your practice online. You can click through the email to a daily practice page where you can mark off each day you practice:


Do you want to take the challenge but not get emails from me? No worries. You’re still welcome to do the practice challenge on your own using the materials on this page and the daily practice pages (accessible from the Practice Challenge Dashboard).

Sign up!

But if you haven’t signed up yet and want to be an official practicipant, then do it below:

Sign up for the Fall Practice Challenge 2019

How it works

One simple goal: Play every day.

  • Pick a minimum amount of time that you know you can do.
    • I suggest at least 20 minutes a day.
  • If you know in advance that you have to miss practice on a specific day, write that in your calendar or practice tracker before the challenge begins.

Four action steps

And there are four suggested action steps. If you don’t do any of these things, but still play every day for two weeks, then you complete the challenge. But, I think these action steps will be helpful and gratifying:

1. Pick at least one challenging tune or skill you want to improve. Some ideas:

  • Bowing, playing in tune, old-time music, improvising, fingering & string crossing, etc.
  • Whatever you pick, work on something small and simple making an effort to improve the sound enough that you enjoy it.

2. Track your practice.

  • Use the online practice tracking I set up for you on the Practice Challenge Dashboard.
  • Use a wall calendar to mark each day you practice. I like this old-school method!

  • Or a habit-tracking app like Momentum:








3. Monitor your performance through recording.

  • At the beginning of the practice challenge (October 7), make an audio recording or video of yourself playing the challenging new tune or technique.
  • Do the same thing at the end of the practice challenge (October 20)You’ll then review these performances to help you understand what improved and what still needs work.

4. Tell at least one other person what you are doing.

  • Start by saying hello to other practicipants in a comment below!
  • Telling friends, family and roommates is a public commitment that will spur you on. You also signal to everyone that music is important to you and to respect the time you take for it.

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!

That’s it. If you want to learn more about practice read the following articles:

How To Practice Consistently

Don’t Break The Chain

How To Track Your Practice

How To Improve Your Fiddling Through Recording 

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…

❤️  Jaso’n

Leave a Reply

72 responses to “Fall Practice Challenge 2019 – Home Page

  1. Hello from near Saint John, NB, Canada! Played fiddle for the first time around 2011 and am having a great time with it. Been learning techniques and songs from Fiddlehed for years now. What a huge help! Working on improving my sound with double stops and focus on hitting those notes right…also working on backup chords and memorizing songs and adding variation.

  2. Yesterday was a rough one work-wise, but I still made sure I got a few minutes of practice in…even, if it was only 10 minutes. Usually, on such a day, I wouldn’t practice, but I am determined to practice every day of the challenge.

  3. Day 3 Fall Challenge: Eyes Closed is Fun! So here’s me with eyes closed on D Major. Yes I cheat a few times. I challenge everyone to post a video of playing something eyes closed, even something short and easy. And challenge yourself to figure out how to post. I get it about half the time 😉


  4. As I didn’t record yesterday, i did so today on both Whiskey Before Breakfast and Blackberry Blossom; one song in D, the other in G. Played Whiskey BB with a guitar video both as a lead and with back-up chords. Neither song sounded great on record; just didn’t have it today, I think. Played for 1 hr. Great idea this group chat!

  5. Yesterday I concentrated on scales, variations that held my attention while I traveled up and down.

    Today (Day 2) I looped Hector The Hero Part A over and over and over so now (hopefully) it is really stuck in my brain.

    Tomorrow I’m planning to attack the B part. Jason has a nice lesson on this great tune.

  6. Hello fellow “Fiddleheads”! Im a Fiddlehed Student from the NJ Shore. My Fall challenge goal is to brush up on the Core & Bonus Songs from 1.1-1.5, targeting weaknesses in each song, and adding variations to ones I feel comfortable with. I am a singer/songwriter. Been a singer, play acoustic rock guitar, bass and keys, since I was 7. Started lessons with Jason on May 15, and also have taken up Mandolin (G-D-A-E tuning). Im open to practice or jam with other students on the Jersey Shore between GSP 82 and 117. Good luck everyone with the Fall Challenge!!

  7. Wow! Great to see so many taking the challenge! It feels good to know there are others out there, and I am not alone. It actually is comforting and motivating. Don’t forget to stop by the new forum group Jason created: Fall Practice Challenge Participants: /groups/fall-practice-challenge-practicipants/forum/

    Let’s stick together and help each other out!


  8. Hello from Scotland! Thanks for the challenge, Jason. I like practicing, but I’m lazy about working on hard stuff, and that’s holding me back. So I think I’ll commit to spending 5 minutes of my practice on things that are harder for me, like those darn Sevcik fingering exercises. The rest of my practice will be the reward!

    1. Wow Scotland. I’ve been there once and loved it. Just recently I saw the Sevcik exercises online and they looked very helpful. I like your 5 minutes of hard stuff approach. Might borrow that. I also do 5 minutes of really easy stuff (at least) to produce good sound. cheers

      1. Glad you like the lessons!! If you feel inclined we would love to add more testimonials and share your experience with our users. If it is t too much, send us a video or written statement saying why you like Fiddle Hed. No worries if not! Thanks again for fiddling with us!

  9. I’m in! (from southern CA.) I first picked up a fiddle about 17 months ago. I found Ja’son’s site through a google search trying to figure out how to hold the bow! ? His was the only explanation that made sense to me. I subscribed soon after and have been loving every minute!
    I’m a piano teacher and sometimes challenge my students with “Who can practice the most this week, me on the fiddle or you on the piano?”
    I’m going to work on “Old Rugged Cross“ for my challenge. It’s my dad’s favorite. He’s on hospice, so I want to learn it for him while I can. I’m picking it out by ear. I’ll probably also work on “Danny Boy” just because I really like it.?
    Also, I’m a lefty. Any other left handed fiddlers out there?

    1. That is great that you were able to find a learning technique right for you in the lessons! Thank you so much for fiddling with us and finding the love in bring music to others. We trust your father will be thrilled!

  10. Hi everyone, Richie from near Valley Forge PA. Play every day and getting better ! Starting my 3rd year. I like to play on the boardwalk in wildwood nj. Trying to work up the nerve to sit in with bluegrass jams that happen in the bars around. I’ll be working on my D major scale and d pentatonic, trying to make a beautiful noise ! I’m also going to work on the song Tam Lin for my G scale work Good luck to all !!

    1. Hi Richie,

      Sounds great to play on the boardwalk in N.J.!
      After practicing back-up chords on Fiddlehed and learning I,IV,V progression chords I was able to sit in on jams and play back-up chords on many songs, especially if someone shouted out the key the song was in. I stayed outside the circle till I gathered more confidence. I was lucky to find a jam where the people were friendly and forgiving!! Good luck!!

  11. Here in Virginia, I pretty much play each day; but this social forum seems like a good idea. Hello everyone! I began to attend local bluegrass jams (very popular in downtown Richmond) 6 months ago; thanks to Fiddlehed lessons on playing back-up chords. But, leading a song is another story. To this point I have deferred to play lead on any song. So, I will take this challenge and see if I can get my timing down (as well as other things) and try leading Whiskey Before Breakfast. Normally at jams this is played very fast, so I am looking for some guitar videos, or mandolin videos that I can practice playing with.

  12. Hello from Wyoming! So glad to be a part of the challenge! I’m hoping to get better at the third part of a tune I’ve been taught at a fiddle camp called Leslie’s March. The is a quick arpeggio section on high notes that has given me trouble since I was introduced to it and it’s driving me bonkers! Glad to have a chance to really focus in on it. I had my husband record me playing (wow – that’s nerve-wracking in and of itself!) so hopefully I can post that in the forum. Happy fiddling everyone!

  13. Hello from London! I’ve just picked up the violin again after 26 years, with the intent to play some free jazz and blues improvisations, and to escape from the daily grind. I discovered jason’s ‘Klezmer tunes’ on YouTube last week, which I have found very clear to follow. I have thus far learnt to play ‘Khosid Wedding Dance’ and ‘Hava Negilah’. My challenge for the next 14 days is to add more variation to Hava Negilah, and play slower/faster, until fluent. I’m also going to work on some vibrato…

  14. I’m ready from Wisconsin! Just started fiddling 16 months ago after retiring from teaching. I love to practice (almost daily), but I look forward to using this time to focus on improving some fundamentals. Thanks Jason!!

  15. I’m in,too. Up to my eyebrows. Tomorrow I head for Great Camp Sagamore for a Road Scholar ‘ Mountain Music and Dance’ program where this all started two years ago. This is my third fall trip up there and I’m looking forward to seeing my original motivators/instructors once again. To play daily is no challenge but it’s very upsetting when something happens to limit my time. Arthur Itis is doing its best to hamper awkward double stops and vibrato but the biggest challenge of all is timing. The new old fashioned metronome came today and is going with me…note to Tom above..have a ball! I got mine for myself for my 82nd birthday present and thank God for it all the time. Just invested in an upgrade and love it! It definitely outshines me. And, Yes, Fiddlehed has been a fantastic learning tool. For this Challenge aim to list my most persistent difficulties and designate set periods of time for each. My overall playing time each day is very liberal but not as well addressed at certain issues as it should be. Thanks Jason and Amber! Great motivator!

  16. I’m in, except perhaps for Oct 21 which is shaping up to be very busy.

    I’m in Oliver, BC, Canada. Picked up fiddle for the first time about 13 months ago as a “turning 60” challenge to myself and signed up for Fiddleheds lessons shortly after that. Thanks for all the resources and encouraging approach to your on-line training!

  17. Check out the new Group in the forum Jason created for those taking the Fall Practice Challenge. Let’s work together to support one another!
    Fall Practice Challenge Participants: /groups/fall-practice-challenge-practicipants/forum/

      1. My pleasure, Jason. I really think this Fall Challenge (how about one in the Winter, Spring and Summer as well?) is a good opportunity for all of us to increase motivation and support one another. I hope folks will make use of this new group.

  18. Hi, all: When not traveling I already play every day but usually not with specific goals. So, for the next 2 weeks I plan to (1) spend time on scales, (2) get a smoother sound on the E string 4th finger B part in The Butterfly (3) work on string crossing in Fisher’s Hornpipe and (4) after hearing Fiachra O’Reagan play Uilleann pipes this afternoon, I am going to start using Jason’s drone tracks! I also plan to re-play some tunes I have “learned” more slowly to work on tone quality. I will record something each day as well. If there’s time left over LOL I hope to learn Morrison’s Jig. Anyone have the tab?

  19. I’m in. Here is the email that I sent to.a fellow fiddler:

    You are the other fiddler “practicipant” whom I’m telling about my “taking the challenge”.

    I’m going to work on double stop scales with alternating single string melody lines with syncopations, creating variations on Oh Susanna and Arkansas Traveller, and reviewing Stobbe books one and two. I will also record my playing at the start and the end of the “challenge”.

    What are you up to these days on the fiddle/ violin?

  20. I already practice every day, but I want to get better since I’m only 4 1/2 years into the fiddle thing! All my musician friends are professionals – so I have A LOT of catching up to do! Happy Fiddling from Arizona high country!

  21. Hi, Bernie here in the Pacific Northwest. I hope to work out a humorous “Cheaters” set list to play with a friend, to include Tennessee Waltz and Your Cheatin’ Heart for starters. Might try come up with Jolene, and The Pines, for beginners by playing by ear, you tube slowdown/searching and writing up the tab that works. Then I want to be able to play through the set with only short breaks. Ambitious! Tone and string crossing will be critical. I will be happy with any and all progress achievable during the challenge.