I’m going to ask you some questions below to help you figure out where you should start in the course.
Are you an absolute beginner?
Are you an absolute beginner? If so, then start with Module 1.1 in which you’ll learn how to pluck and bow and play simple rhythms.
Can you play simple rhythms and tunes?
If you can make a basic sound with the bow, play rhythms and use your left hand fingers to play simple melodies, then you can start somewhere between Module 1.2 andModule 1.6.
Can you already play a simple D major scale? Can you make a decent sound with the bow? If so, jump to Module 1.3and try to learn one of the core tunes. If this feels like a good skill level, then slowly move through the course starting here. From Module 1.4 toModule 1.6you’ll build on the same basic finger positions but play them on other strings. And inModule 1.6 you’ll learn how to slur.
I also recommend that all students take the following mini-courses:
How To Practice Fiddling in which you learn about looping, drone practice, micro-learning, incrementalism and practice tracking.
How To Play In Tune in which you’ll learn some amazing tools to help you play in tune: drone tuning, call-and-response loops, interval practice and audiation.
If that’s really easy for you (Are you sure it’s easy? How good is your sound?) then move on to Module 1.7to Module 1.10in which you’ll practice low second finger, and melodic scale variation.
Are you an intermediate fiddler?
Have you learned at least thirty tunes? Can you easily add slurring to your playing? If yes, to these questions, then you may be ready to do the Intermediate course,which begins by teaching the fourth finger (pinky) inModule 2.1.
If you’re still unsure, then email me, telling me everything you can do right now and I’ll suggest a start point.
A few guiding principles
Move slowly through the course. Make things sound good (not perfect) before you move on.
Record yourself on a weekly basis. Take notes on things that have improved and things that need work. Learn more here: How To Track Your Practice.
Be kind to yourself. This instrument can be hard to learn.
Play every day (without hope or despair)
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Here's a newer version of the Notefinder which is based on sheet music.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.