How I Teach Fiddle



I teach fiddle tunes primarily from the American Old-Timey and Celtic (Irish/English) traditions.
In teaching fiddle I use different approaches depending on the needs of the student. For beginning students, I start by teaching the first 4 or 5 pieces in Suzuki book 1. Learning these pieces is a more incremental way to learn the fundamentals than starting with fiddle tunes. Then I introduce easy fiddle tunes that use only the A and E strings. The next step is teaching tunes that use the D, A, and E strings. Later I introduce the use of the 4th finger and the G string.

As soon as the students are playing fiddle tunes, I teach elements of fiddle style such as: shuffles, drones, double stops, and ornaments. Students learn primarily “by ear.” Musical listening and memory skills are very important for fiddlers. These skills are learned and strengthened by learning new pieces by ear and maintaining a repertoire. Students are strongly encouraged to develop a repertoire that they can play from memory.

With intermediate and advanced students, I evaluate their strengths and weaknesses, and proceed on that basis. I usually work on improving tunes they already know as well as introducing new tunes that will address specific issues (stylistic issues, specific techniques, ear training, reading music, etc.)

While reading is a useful skill it is secondary to facility with the instrument and ear training. I teach reading music to students who want to learn or who have developed their skills to the point where reading will be a useful tool.
I also tailor my teaching to the student’s individual learning style. As you probably know, students have individual styles in the way they learn. Some students are very self-directed while others prefer lots of direction. Some students enjoy routine while others like variety. Some students are visual learners while others may be auditory or kinesthetic learners. I adjust my teaching style to mesh with the student’s individual learning style.

For young students, the parent, the student, and I work as a team. One day a week, at the lesson, I teach the student and the parent what to practice and how to practice it. The other six days of the week the parent assists the student in practicing correctly. Older students will assume the roles of both student and “parent.”
Beginning and intermediate students will have a half-hour lesson every week. It is important that they get regular feedback and direction. Advanced students may need an hour lesson every week.

916-248-6002 Call Bill for more information or to schedule an introductory lesson!