Community
You must be a member to respond to discussions.
Discussion

Papa Bear
Hello Beth - This weekend, while in Nashville, I mentioned the Violin Lab and taking fiddle lessons and was corrected by some of the folks. They said the Violin Lab is for teaching classical violin and not fiddling. Iím okay with whatever youíre teaching because I have started at the beginner level learned a lot (I have a lot to learn) but my question is: have you ever made a syllabus for your program that could be used for fiddling or are there lessons that I should skip since I will only be playing fiddle tunes as opposed to classical? Thanks, Papa Bear
Papa Bear
10 Responses
Posted: February 10, 2011
Last Comment: February 12, 2011
Replies

Beth Blackerby
Posted: February 12, 2011
You're so very welcome! All of you VL members are constant inspiration. Ya'll warm my heart and feed my creative spirit.

I love what you said "No matter the genre of music, the listener assimilates the sounds. If it is enjoyed, they react..." That is absolutely true!

As for vibrato, it too can be used in different ways. I meant to include in the video response that vibrato can be used sparingly, to occasionally add a little warmth and color to the sound. In a fiddling context, long notes with a little vibrato can be lovely. That was the approach to vibrato back in the Baroque Era. Vibrato was not the powerful machine that it is now, always on and running.


Papa Bear
Posted: February 12, 2011

Beth,

I am soooo impressed with your abilities as a player and as a human. Iím amazed how you can jump from such a busy schedule to focus on an individualís concern especially when so many are vying for you assistance. You must have more than 24 hours in a day.

The video response to my fiddle question was just perfect. It answered a lot of questions that were bouncing around in my head such as bow holding. When I picked up the fiddle (violin to the cultured ones) I just grabbed the bow and started swinging. Never considered that there is a preferred way to hold it. Then after beginning your lessons, and seeing how you recommend it be held, I noticed fiddlerís had a variety of bow techniques.

In your video response you hit the magic phrase: They are self-trained. Almost all of the folks that I talked to said they were self-taught (that includes being shown how to play by grandpa who was self taught). They werenít too concerned on how the bow was held, just as long as it hit the strings. And trust me, in their defense; most can really hit the strings well.

As far as the left hand, you also nailed it. Almost all of the fiddlers held the neck with their left hand and just move their fingers to get the notes (since most of their playing is in the first position anyway, thatís not a problem). I also held the fiddle that way until you demonstrated the proper way to hold a violin. Now the neck remains out of my left hand except I just use my left thumb for a bit of counter force when playing some notes.

While mixing with a load of Bluegrassers at the Sheraton in Nashville last weekend, I almost got laughed out of town when I asked one of them about using vibrato. I was told that vibrato was unnecessary longhaired stuff that a fiddler doesnít have to use. Later, I laughed to myself when I listened to a moving performance of a fiddler playing Ashokan Farewell using vibrato throughout the entire piece. I found out most are quite proficient with vibrato and other techniques of the violin/fiddle but they pick and choose how to play to their current audience.

I wonít sell the fiddlers short. I have seen a rather placid crowd simply erupt with excitement when a good fiddler takes control. I think the violin or fiddle is a wonderful median to the soul of the listener and the player. No matter the genre of music, the listener assimilates the sounds. If it is enjoyed, they react with a standing ovation or a loud ďya hoo.Ē As a player, those reactions make all the practicing worthwhile.

So for me, Iíll just continue working on your video lessons and progress as I have been. I may or may not skip some advanced stuff but if itís the last thing I do, Iím going to learn vibrato. Right now my left hand and right hand are connected. If I vibrate the left the right vibrates too. That really makes a weird soundÖ.coolÖbut weird. I love a challenge.

Thanks again, and I agree with Eileen, ďBless you Beth for the encouragement and guidance you give us all here.Ē I guarantee that then next time Iím Austin Iíll stop by and thank you in person. Youíre the best,

Papa Bear


Eileen
Posted: February 11, 2011
Oh my, that book is so familiar to me Beth....lol ! I've got it on a shelf somewhere.

And...speaking of bow grips I posted a pic of an elderly french canadian fiddler on V-labs facebook page a while back... who's bow grip would really cause you to ponder how on earth he could play anything like that. But, that's how he taught himself. You're right Beth....you see anything and everything when you move into a room full of fiddlers. But somehow they make it work....I've even seen a "one arm fiddler" on facebook ! Try THAT one ! Granted...the fella was seriously limited in his technique but...jeesh ! Truly amazing the ingenuity and perseverance of some folk ! Like people over 40 picking up a violin and trying to do anything with it....lol.

Bless you Beth for the encouragement and guidance you give us all here ! You are a wonder and I do hope I get a chance to meet you some day ! :-)


Beth Blackerby
Posted: February 11, 2011
This discussion includes members-only video content

Thanks, Eileen, and everyone else. Warms m'heart. Papa Bear: I hope this will give you some idea of where to direct your training. Now that I know there are a substantial number of you fiddlers out there, I will put feelers out to the community. I know I could round up some good interviews with some expert fiddlers.

Eileen
Posted: February 11, 2011
I would go with some/all of the scale exercises if you're looking to find which vids would help you out the most. Scales are just good for a lot of things like intonation and working on bowing technique and just about everything else.

Beth has a list of different exercises that you could practice with scales and all of them are very helpful and fun to work on. They will help you to gain confidence and control of your bow which is a major battle....as well as working on intonation.

The double stops video will be helpful as well since most fiddle tunes have double stops, even if they don't, you could always throw some in just for fun..lol.

This place is a wealth of information Bear...I'm betting there's more here you will find helpful than not. :-)


Papa Bear
Posted: February 11, 2011
Thanks for the feedback. I certainly agree with everyone's comments. If I could make the grade to classical violinist I would be one happy guy. Personally, I think the classical violin is the most beautiful of all instruments. I do not find classical training a waste of my, or anyone elseís, time but that is not what my current needs require. Iím and old rock and roll and blues guitarist that now plays a little bluegrass. I wanted to expand from rhythm guitar playing to learning to play the fiddle. The Violin Labís program seemed the best suited on the web for learning the violin. I was just wondering if there were portions of the classical violinist teaching that were not needed for fiddle playing so for now I could concentrate on more crucial technique. Thanks again

Eileen
Posted: February 11, 2011
Personally I find classical far more interesting and fun to play....but that is most likely because I never got to the level of fiddle playing where you "off the cuff" zip through a tune and toss in all those interesting accidentals and quick triplets and such that add all the color and interest to fiddle playing. I could do a little of that but certainly not at an advanced level.

In classical I love all the various bowing techniques and that you aren't repeating the piece over and over again as you do in fiddle. But again, that's most likely due to the fact that I hadn't gotten to a proficient level in fiddle where you can vary what your doing while your playing, as the mood suits you. Maybe once I get a handle on this classical stuff I'll go back to fiddle and give it another go. :-)


Beth Blackerby
Posted: February 10, 2011
It's a very interesting topic, really. There are two issues when comparing classical style and fiddle style. One is musical; understanding the bowing patterns, melodies, and melodic patterns that make fiddle music sound like fiddle music. The other issue has to do with tone and technique. There are certainly many great fiddle players who are solidly classically trained (Mark O'Connor), and as Duane and Eileen pointed out, there is enormous benefit to going through the basics of classical training. However, there are great fiddle players who "sound" like a fiddle player and who have not trained classically. It really depends on your aesthetic.

The beauty of studying classical technique is that you would be versatile and can play anything, in any style you want, but at the same time, there is a distinct difference between the "untrained" fiddly tone and the trained classical tone playing fiddle music. It would be a fun challenge to make a video looking at those both subtle and blatant differences. I'll see what I can do. Thanks for bringing up the topic.

Side note: I, for sheer fun, joy, and creative challenge, play in a "pop" band. We play chamber pop, which is essentially pop style music infused with classical style playing. Because I have that versatility, I can "riff" anywhere on the violin. I'm not limited to 1st position...I can use different bowing techniques which add textures not limited to the simple detache strokes that fiddlers are generally limited to.

I'm not trying to "sell" you on classical training, but want to toss it out as a good option. In any case, it will be a fun video response.


Eileen
Posted: February 10, 2011
I'm with Duane. I played fiddle before I ventured into classical and there are many things here I wish I had known when I first started up.

I have heard that it is a great benefit to take the time to go through the first Suzuki book, no matter what genera you are interested in playing.....sure couldn't hurt !!

BTW Bear...welcome to V-Lab ! :-)


Duane Lucy
Posted: February 10, 2011

Papa Bear,

I feel this website is appropriate for either. I say that because most of the content on here as far as I can tell is about technique.

I feel you can benefit greatly here.

I would advise you that if you are serious to find a competent fiddler to teach you fiddling along with looking at this website.