Here’s an intermediate lesson on how to play fiddle chord backup on an old time song called Blackest Crow in G Major. This will allow you to play backup for when you jam with others. You’ll also be able to backup for your own voice as you sing the song. Eventually, you can alternate between singing with backup and the melody. 🏆

I’ll do a quick review of the chords and then point you to more in-depth lessons for chord practice.

This is recommended for students in Module 2.6 or higher.

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Essential steps

  • Learn the melody on fiddle and/or voice
  • Learn and practice individual chords
  • Memorize these chords
  • Practice each two-chord transitions
    • D/C
    • C/G
    • G/Em (easy G0D1)
    • G/Em (harder G2D1)
  • Play chord backup for the whole song

Learning chunks 

I’ve made some “Learning Chunks” to help you learn more easily. These focused exercises contain sheet music, tabs and mp3 snippets to guide you on your fiddle journey.


Review the tune in A Major:

Review and practice double stops from these lessons:

Practice these chords:

D Major: G1D0

G1-D0-G1D0-G1D0, two bows

C Major

Bars 1-4

This Learning Chunk™ (tab, sheet music and mp3 snippets) is available to All-access users. Subscribe here. And thanks for your support. 🙏

Bars 5-8

This Learning Chunk™ (tab, sheet music and mp3 snippets) is available to All-access users. Subscribe here. And thanks for your support. 🙏

Bars 9-17

This Learning Chunk™ (tab, sheet music and mp3 snippets) is available to All-access users. Subscribe here. And thanks for your support. 🙏


The time draws near my dearest dear when you and i must part

But little do you know of the grace and woe of my poor aching heart

It’s what I suffer for your sake, you’re the one I love so dear

I wish that i was going with you or you were staying here


The blackest crow that ever flew would surely turn to white

If ever I prove false to you bright day will turn to night

Bright day will turn to night my love, the elements will mourn

If ever I prove false to you the seas will rage and burn


And when you’re on some distant shore think of your absent friend

And when the wind blows high and clear a light to me pray send

And when the wind blows high and clear pray send your love to me

That I might know by your hand light how time has gone with thee

Other versions

Red Tail Ring performs their arrangement of the traditional ballad, The Blackest Crow, in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. This tune is recorded on their album, “II. Mountain Shout.”

Further learning

Here are some power practice tips. Doing these earns you compound interest on your fiddle practice.

Alternate between fiddling and playing chords on small chunks

Take a two-bar chunk, play the chords, then play the melody. Keep alternating with a play along track drone, metronome or just on your on. This trains your ear to hear the connection between chords and melody.

Once you can do all the chunks of a tune, then do the whole tune with chords, the whole with melody.

Learn more: Fiddling with chords and melodies

Alternate between singing and playing chords on small chunks

Singing helps you to remember the melody. It also helps you to hear the big picture when playing backup.

If you can do this easily, then you can try to sing and play at the same time. If it’s difficult, then you may want to start with a very small piece. For example, play the first chord (D) and sing the first few words of the song “The time draws near” in a loop. Then play the C chord and sing, “near, my”. Then play D/C and sing “The time draws near my” Etc. Keep building, keep learning.

Learn more: Singing and Playing Practice

These strategies are based practice loops. You alternate between something basic and something more challenging.

Learn more: Practice Loops

Full Content 

Full tabs, audio, sheet music pdf, and sheet music video are available to All-access users. But you can learn this NOW with a free two-week trial subscription. Sign up here. 🎻

Give thanks

Take a moment to reflect with gratitude that you have music in your life. No matter where you are on your fiddle journey, you get to learn, play, and listen to music. What a wonderful gift!

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