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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Online Fiddle Lessons

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MSmartt - Posted - 07/31/2020:  10:12:43

Hello fellow fiddlers:

I am in the process developing an online teaching website to cover Fiddle and other instruments. The genres will contain general fiddle tunes, contest style, western swing, bluegrass and Celtic. The site will be professional grade with instruction from a highly qualified teacher.  We have developed a multi-level teaching program focusing on the absolute beginner to a master level in each genre. We plan to provide a proper musical foundation and carry on the tradition of fiddling we all enjoy.

I would appreciate all feedback assisting in developing the site. Input concerning features and approach will be considered.

Thank you,


Edited by - MSmartt on 07/31/2020 10:17:04

dsreiner - Posted - 08/01/2020:  17:57:10

Hi MSmartt,

Since you asked for feedback ... there's not a traditional fiddle style called "Celtic."  Irish and Scottish traditions are very different, and have regional sub-styles, as well as adjacent styles such as Cape Breton.  Also, I'm not sure what you mean by "general fiddle tunes." There are lots of different regional styles, where repertoire, bowing, drones, ornaments, variations, playing traditions, and accompaniment are very different. Sure, musicians in many different styles may play common tunes (like Soldier's Joy, or Fisher's Hornpipe, say), but they play them very differently.

It's an ambitious goal to cover multiple styles and instruments up to a "master level."  It might be better to limit the styles and instruments to the ones that your initial teachers can credibly play and teach well.

A "proper musical foundation" sounds good, although this likely means something different for different styles, including how tunes are taught, played, and modified (or not). Sometimes a musical foundation includes having heard and absorbed classic performances and licks (thinking of bluegrass here).

Good luck with your site.


Edited by - dsreiner on 08/01/2020 17:58:20

MSmartt - Posted - 08/03/2020:  16:41:27

Hello Dave,
Thank you for your input and your authenticity. I utilized some poor classifications so let me clarify.
First, we are both purists in the fact we appreciate going to the source for our basis of learning. So true, different regions influence the way we fiddlers interpret a tune in bowing and musical feel.
This influence is one of the many things that make our fiddle world so interesting!

Celtic is most definitely not a tradition fiddle style, my bad. The basis and influences for our program would be of the following:

Traditional Irish – Kevin Burke, Martin Hayes, and Michael Coleman
Scottish – Johnny Cunningham, James Scott Skinner, and Aly Bain
Canadian – Graham Townsend and Jerry Holland

General fiddle tunes would have best have been described as Old-Time fiddle core repertory that is common throughout the North American fiddle world such as Liberty, The Girl I left Behind Me, Soldier’s Joy, etc.

Traditional Country – Tommy Jackson, Buddy Spicher, and Johnny Gimble.

Contest Style – J.T. Perkins, Benny Thomasson, Dick Barrett, Major Franklin, Clyde Hartman, Frazier Moss, Texas Shorty, Roy Crawford, and Howdy Forrester.

Western Swing – Dale Potter, Johnny Gimble, Keith Coleman, Buddy Spicher, Louis Teirney, Bob Wills.

Bluegrass Fiddle – Chubby Wise, Benny Martin, Kenny Baker, Vassar Clements, Byron Berline, Buddy Spicher, Jimmy Buchanan, Red Taylor, Dale Potter, Tommy Jackson, Howdy Forrester, Paul Warren, Bobby Hicks.

Jazz – Stuff Smith, Svend Asmussen, Joe Venuti, Stephane Grappelli, Eddie South.

The above are our influences over the past 40 years that we consider the foundation of learning we would present. This foundation also consists of providing the opportunity to learn standard notation and music theory to those that so desire.

We definitely do not claim to be a master of each individual above, but can present the music of each to develop the foundation of the student and suggest that he/she develop their own interests and style based on regional influence.

You are spot on with the comment concerning a lofty goal! We are looking at this project as a long term investment with a growth plan of 3 – 5 years. We will begin with a smaller scope and grow as we see interest for each.

BTW, I have reviewed your site and see you are doing a great job promoting fiddling in your region. I will continue to visit and maybe we will meet somewhere down the line.

Thanks again for taking to time to provide your input.


dsreiner - Posted - 08/05/2020:  13:03:22

Hi Michael, 

I appreciate your detailed response.

It's hard to believe that none of your influencers are women, across all of those styles.  That may be due to past gender inequality in encouragement and promotion of women fiddlers, but the absence is still striking. Also, you have just two Black fiddlers on the list, for jazz.

What about the great Irish fiddler Liz Carroll? Wonderful Cape Breton player Natalie MacMaster? Influential old-time Penn fiddler Sarah Armstrong (whose tunes were collected by Bayard)? Country / bluegrass star Allison Krauss?  Black old-time fiddler Joe Thompson, who inspired the Carolina Chocolate Drops? For contest fiddling, the Grand Championship in 2019 at Weiser had 3 women in the top 5, including first place. These are just a few examples that come to mind.

Also, old-time fiddling covers a lot of distinct regional styles (with their own repertoires and traditions), which can't easily be grouped and taught all together.

Best wishes,

Dave Reiner 

MSmartt - Posted - 08/05/2020:  14:37:33

Hello Dave,
Thank you again for your valued feedback. We do not intend or will never exclude anyone's influence based on gender or race. We are merely presenting material from fiddlers we grew up listening and learning from in our beginnings. All the individuals you mention are worthy of study, but unfortunately inhibited by time.

We are working hard in the next couple of months in preparation to go live with the site. I will solicit your feedback upon go live as your responses show a true dedication to the world of fiddling. Our desire is to promote a site that is greatly influenced by the audience.

Thanks again,


MSmartt - Posted - 08/07/2020:  12:44:55

Hey all,

I got some really good input from Dave! Thanks Dave! Would like to get more if you would provide! We are hard at work trying to design a site that is For the Fiddler/By the Fiddler!

Your input is invited.



Edited by - MSmartt on 08/07/2020 12:47:35

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