I have been taking violin lessons to try to get a base of basic skills that I never got because I never had any lessons. From these lessons I have learned how to notice things that I never noticed before. Like when people play the violin, their arm moves a lot higher than when people play fiddle.
This led me to wonder, what does a violinist have to learn if they want to get basic fiddling skills?
I found this video and thought it showed pretty well what they have to learn.
I apologize up front in that I didn't have time to watch the whole video, I'll look later--up front she addresses vibrato, which I think is totally appropriate in fiddle playing. The violin/fiddle is closest instrument to human voice, which uses vibrato. Raised in the Appalachians and currently living in the Ozarks, I have heard monotone singing on the porch and at church, and it's sure enough authentic, but it sounds to me based on hollerin' and hog calls. Sweet singing has vibrato. So, I prefer to put some vibrato at least in my waltzes.
As far as high arm, I advocate that the strings (and, instrument) be close to horizontal anyway, so that you don't have to fight gravity to prevent bow drift downhill towards the fingerboard. Whatever upper arm angle goes along with that.
I don't know what a violinist has to learn in order to play fiddle music, except that one has to develop a sense of improvisation--get off the notation, yet stay close to it.
Have fun with your lessons, always good to introduce technique, and it's fun to meet other folks.
Her point about vibrato was that apparently classical violinists are taught to hit that vibrato immediately, so much so that they have a hard time NOT playing vibrato. She shows a technique of training yourself to play your vibrato delayed and slower. This will make your vibrato sound more appropriate. Either you won't have enough time to do it at all (appropriate for a fast reel) or you'll play it more traditional-sounding (like in a waltz.)
I thought this video was interesting because I am being taught some of these techniques, such as playing with a lot of bow, and they just don't apply to playing fiddle tunes or sounding like a fiddle player. I'm doing them, though, so that I have more control over my bowing overall. When (or if) we get to vibrato I may learn it but I will tell my teacher that there really isn't much vibrato in the traditions that I play.
As a classical violinist, this lady has tremendous control of her instrument. What amazed me most about this video was the way she effortlessly maintained her shuffle bowing smoothly into a song. She made what to me is the toughest part of fiddling look like something that was almost trivial to her.
Interesting, but missed some prominent things that I tell a classical player when asked what makes fiddle music different. Ah, it is great to be a curmudgeon!
How DARE you try to take the title of "Curmudgeon" from me!!!... I've had several classically trained musicians, over the years, come to me for 'lessons'.. as if I could teach them.. !! However, it all boils down to bow control and playing from the heart.. in the end...........Getting them to close their eyes and play from their heart, with rhythm.. is something then can already DO.. now they just need to LISTEN to how fiddling is, as compared to what they have learned.. .. It is difficult in its simplicity..
Ironically, I've been experimenting with some of her "do not do this because this is classical" admonitions. For one, I've been listening to classical violin playing for a good 65 years and it never struck me that classical players do vibrato from the moment they bow the note. I gave it a try. Call me Itzhak! Yehudi! Is that you-di?
I'd ask the classical player to drop overt shuffling, floppy wrist, and sheet music for a start. And to listen recordings/videos of particular fiddlers they like and become immersed in what is happening in the music.
Thanks for sharing this video. I've been doing the things she mentioned in the video intuitively even though I've had 2 fiddle teachers and neither have mentioned any of this. I guess I must be on the right track.