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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Is fiddling hard?

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FiddleHed - Posted - 03/28/2021:  09:38:55

After asking "Is fiddling hard?" you could ask, "OK, what's hard about it?" And then you could as, "Well what's the hardest thing about that hard thing?" Eventually you get to a point where it's not as hard.

Example: You're learning a bluegrass solo.
The whole things is SUPER-HARD.
There's a double stops thing that's the hardest part.
What hard about the double stops thing is getting the bow sound right.
There's one chord that's the culprit! D2A3
Out of the two double stop notes, A3 sounds worse.
Just play A3. It sounds better!
Then work your way backwards.

Like @jacroom said, just enjoy the process somehow...

chas5131 - Posted - 03/29/2021:  14:14:12

When people seem to compliment you by saying you have talent, they are merely giving themselves an excuse for
not trying and for never excelling.

Old Scratch - Posted - 03/30/2021:  12:26:22

Or they just want to compliment you because that seems to be what the situation requires - but they're wondering why anyone would bother doing what you do.

jacroom - Posted - 04/04/2021:  14:01:22

Lol, as they say.

Lonesome Fiddler - Posted - 04/04/2021:  14:58:25

I take all compliments and complaints with a patient grain of salt. As for tips & suggestions, if they aren't from another fiddler I take them with a veritable salt mine full of salt.

catty - Posted - 04/10/2021:  22:06:17

I always say - the more expressive the instrument, the greater the 'difficulty'

The Violin Beautiful - Posted - 04/10/2021:  23:18:39


Originally posted by catty

I always say - the more expressive the instrument, the greater the 'difficulty'

I like that description.

However, the question the OP asked was about the difficulty of fiddling, which I see as distinct from the difficulty of playing the instrument. In that light, I would suggest that the violin is a difficult instrument to play but fiddling is not difficult. 

BetteB - Posted - 04/11/2021:  18:15:17


Originally posted by FiddleHed

Do you think it's hard to play the fiddle?

Yes and no. Yes, because it is so precise (where you place your fingers and how you use the bow). No, because if you take your time, observe an advanced player and get the right instruction. you can learn to play well. Let your playing develop over time. Can't be rushed. 

What's actually hard?

Relaxing my left hand. 

Re: another poster's comment, I think you can find a way to "hold" your fiddle so that it is comfortable for how you are built. You can copy someone else's hold, but adjust it for your body type. Not everyone has the same arms , shoulders, and hands!

Are you able to simplify what you do enough so that it sounds good?

Yes, sometimes I have to "make friends with" a note that doesn't want to get along with me. Or change fingering or bowing to suit.

Do you ever just play a single note and make that sound amazing? Can you carry forth that good sound to a few notes or a small phrase? 

Yes. I think it is important to pay attention to each note. As one teacher has told me, every note is important. Focus on quality, not just getting faster. So I might pay attention to one or two notes that aren't as smooth as they could be, or just practice a phrase and really listen to how it sounds. then Improve from there. 

Can you find a way to enjoy the simple sound of the bow on the strings?

Yes, that is the joy of playing for me. It makes a difference if you have a quality instrument and quality bow. Significantly more enjoyable the the VSO I first bought when returning to playing a few years ago. But honestly it's hard to not get "carried away" when those enjoyable few notes lead to much more. 


phiddlepicker - Posted - 04/18/2021:  08:28:51

Harder than woodpecker lips, but easy as pie.

Peghead - Posted - 04/18/2021:  15:14:06

The learning curve on the fiddle is steep, the fundamentals are not intuitive and they take time and dedication to acquire. Even as a folk instrument, there are a lot of mechanics to deal with before you can think about music. There's nothing natural about it, compared with a piano for instance.  I think people mistake the learning curve for "difficulty". The instrument selects for personality types that will persevere and do not require instant gratification. The actual steps to learning the instrument however,  are (in my opinion) no more difficult than any other. It just took longer than expected, a lot longer. 

Edited by - Peghead on 04/18/2021 15:23:39

Earworm - Posted - 04/19/2021:  07:46:19

A good fiddler needs: 60% plain old hard work, 20% talent, whatever the heck that is, 15% serendipitous circumstance (like time to practice, and the right encouragement), and 5% Drama Queen.

A bad fiddler can just reverse the equation. There - that's all the wisdom I've got today.

Edited by - Earworm on 04/19/2021 07:47:34

Old Scratch - Posted - 04/19/2021:  08:55:04

I'm lacking in the Drama Queen quotient - guess that explains why I'm, um, not so good ... !

Earworm - Posted - 04/19/2021:  09:30:37

On the other hand, Old Scratch , maybe that's just me. :)

groundhogpeggy - Posted - 04/19/2021:  13:41:13

Anything is hard to do when you don't know how to do it. Once you start learning and getting into a comfort zone, you wonder why you used to think it was so hard.

Lonesome Fiddler - Posted - 04/19/2021:  14:27:06

Peghead -- Yes, you hit it on the proverbial head. The required manipulations of the right and left side of your body are pretty much entirely unrelated when it comes to fiddling. It's the proverbial rubbing your belly while scratching your head, only worse. You can't simply use an elbow or a finger and press a button or keyboard key. It's a skill that takes time and practice to even begin to make a sound...not to mention a sound somebody would like to hear.

brya31 - Posted - 04/19/2021:  16:19:39

I’ve been at it ten years and I still think I stink at it.

DougBrock - Posted - 04/19/2021:  16:43:10

To me as a new violin player/fiddler, the hardest part about “fiddling” is the complex set of techniques that aren’t easily notated. Playing an old fiddle tune melody isn’t difficult for most violinists. Adding the bow pulses and drones and double stops and slides into one exciting coherent style...that is hard. Thank goodness for YouTube!

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