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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: How to start?

Please note this is an archived topic, so it is locked and unable to be replied to. You may, however, start a new topic and refer to this topic with a link: http://www.fiddlehangout.com/archive/54063

Doc Savino - Posted - 09/18/2020:  12:20:22

Complete beginner here... looking at starter fiddles.... where do I start?
Talking with theblugrassshack.com for a starter fiddle.
Play banjo but do not read music! Lesson suggestions?
Thanks! Doc

stumpkicker - Posted - 09/18/2020:  14:01:23

You might want To check out schools in your area to see if any of them have a string instrument program in their music dept. Then find out where they rent their instruments from and see if you can rent a violin for a while to see if you like it. As for lessons, that’s hard to say. I first learned from book and cassette combinations ack in the day, but maybe some other hangout members can recommend websites that have good beginning lessons.

TuneWeaver - Posted - 09/18/2020:  14:12:32

IMO, nothing will help more than a fiddle playing Instructor/mentor..Welcome to the hangout. You can check on the Hangout's files and possibly find members who live in your area..

Doc Savino - Posted - 09/18/2020:  14:15:06

Ty! Just bought A used starter from the bluegrassshop...

TuneWeaver - Posted - 09/18/2020:  14:25:41

EDIT to my other post.. I did NOT seek help at first and Literally spent YEARS spinning my wheels.. Don't be afraid to get One on One help...You'll never regret it..

UsuallyPickin - Posted - 09/18/2020:  14:30:50

Spend some time each day learning to read notation. You will be glad you did. Find a teacher and take some lessons. That will help you get started with good habits. Bad habits are a #$%^& to break. Tune it each time you pick it up. Small variations will cause big problems. Play daily .... the fiddle is a jealous mistress. At first practice your scales slowly with a tuner and listen. That will help stabilize your intonation and muscle memory. Lastly be patient ..... no frets, a bow and holding it with your jaw and shoulder are big changes.

Fiddler - Posted - 09/18/2020:  14:56:15

As someone who is "self-taught", the best advice is to find an experience teacher. As Richard mentioned above, unlearning bad habits is a bear!! I started in the mid 70s and I am struggling with bad habits that are hindering my playing! Additionally, a good teacher will help you prevent injuries. Holding the violin/fiddle is not natural. I have friends who have been playing with poor posture and technique who are dealing with some severe muscular-skeletal problems.

Check out Old Time Central. They curate an interactive map of active jams. They are on Facebook as well as have a webpage.

Do a search of FHO members and see if any are in your area. You just search for Florida and see who might be near. There are 53 members in Florida. Whether they are active is another story.

Contact a local music store. Many of these will have someone who teaches violin/fiddle. Don't be afraid of "violin." They will teach you proper technique. Most violin teachers will adapt to your interests, especially since you are an adult learner.

Use YouTube and other on-line resources judiciously. They are not a substitute for a teacher, but can certainly help you. But, try to stick with one or two folks. YouTube instructional videos can send you down a rabbit hole!! Remember that a teacher is a coach and can give you immediate feedback. Are you holding the instrument properly? Are you moving the bow properly? etc.

Finally, playing the fiddle requires using muscles in your hand, wrist, arm and shoulder that you may never have used. So, there will be a learning curve. Don't give up. Make a recording of yourself when you start. Use this as a base line to monitor your improvement. (I will tell you from first hand experience that this will be the most painful thing to listen to. I can't stand to listen to the recordings I did after I had been playing a year or so. Good grief!! I could strip paint.)

Have fun. Remember that only a very small portion of the population plays a musical instrument. Folks who criticize you are only showing their jealousy and envy.

soppinthegravy - Posted - 09/18/2020:  15:34:41

I'm a banjo picker, too. Here are some thing I wish I had done.

1. Do research on ways to hold the violin and bow and ways to set up the violin to best achieve the sound you are looking for.

2. Ask the opinion of medical professionals (particularly those with extensive knowledge of the musculoskeletal system) before I started training myself to hold the violin and the bow.

Google Scholar might be a better source of articles on these topics than regular Google: scholar.google.com/

Originally posted by Doc Savino

Complete beginner here... looking at starter fiddles.... where do I start?

Talking with theblugrassshack.com for a starter fiddle.

Play banjo but do not read music! Lesson suggestions?

Thanks! Doc


Edited by - soppinthegravy on 09/18/2020 15:48:40

Brian Wood - Posted - 09/18/2020:  16:33:32


Originally posted by Doc Savino

Complete beginner here... looking at starter fiddles.... where do I start?

Talking with theblugrassshack.com for a starter fiddle.

Play banjo but do not read music! Lesson suggestions?

Thanks! Doc

When I first started I pledged to myself I would dedicate a certain amount of time daily to the fiddle. For me that was a couple hours a day, but you might choose more or less. What you're going to do in that time is a lot of different things, but without the initial discipline to play every day no matter what, you're likely to find yourself falling away from it because it's a little bit hard. All the advice your getting is good. Just promise yourself you'll invest the time.

Lonesome Fiddler - Posted - 09/18/2020:  16:53:35

As Fiddler says, scour your local area for fiddle/violin teachers. Do your best to make the lessons face-to-face. It's still worth a drive if the teacher is a little ways away. It's the quickest way to get comfortable with the bow & fiddle and in getting some sort of tolerable sound out of the combo. It's the quickest way of learning how to get the instrument in tune. Have fun! And don't be rattled if things start off a bit clumsily...

Flat_the_3rd_n7th - Posted - 09/18/2020:  17:04:11

Get with LOCAL--fiddle-buying and fiddle-playin

Learn reading music: notation--it's no more difficult to learn from reading tab or doing math--quickest way to funnel the skeleton of a song/tune into your head. Where would Chopin, Beethoven, etc, pieces be without notation?--need that skill to pass it on

bow arm is 80%; note hand is 20% (IMO); divvy up that amount of time on the exercises...

sbhikes2 - Posted - 09/18/2020:  19:26:30

You can find good fiddles/violins for sale on craigslist. That's where I both sold the crappy one I bought at a music shop long ago and bought a good fiddle that sounds good and is a pleasure to play.

I have struggled to play fiddle for over 15 years and finally decided I would take violin lessons. I found a teacher through word of mouth. I explained my predicament -- 15 years or more of self-taught, probably do everything wrong habits -- and my goal, which was to learn a foundation of basic skills so that I could do things I can't figure out how to do after all this time.

She is a classical musician. She teaches me stuff that classical students learn. I have the Suzuki book one to learn from and a book of scales. But she knows that classical music is not my goal. She wants me to learn and become more familiar with using the whole bow, not just part, and to learn how to play smoothly and with good tone and intonation. These things matter for fiddling, too. And I have noticed that even though mostly I've only played the G scale over and over for a couple months now, with different patterns of bowings, it actually has helped me do things in my fiddle playing I couldn't do before.

Doc Savino - Posted - 09/18/2020:  19:41:51

Good advice!

rosinhead - Posted - 09/18/2020:  21:11:07

There's a lot of good advice in the previous posts. I would advise that you watch and listen closely to the players you admire. Play, practice, play, practice, then play some more. Train your ear. Tunes you learn by picking them apart and listening stay with you far more so than something you learn off of paper or a screen. Just put the time in and keep in mind that it takes most people around 5 years to have things start to come together. Sure you will be able to play many tunes in the first few years, but things really start to click later on as your bow control gets better.

In a nutshell, the most concise and important advice:

Play every day even if it's for only 15 minutes.

Have fun, Doc. Enjoy the journey!

Cyndy - Posted - 09/18/2020:  22:33:06

Lots of good advice here! Is there a particular style of fiddle music you’re hoping to play? If so, searching for a skilled teacher in that genre might be a good idea at some point. A classical teacher who isn’t a fiddler can get you started, but there are some differences. For example, for most of the old-time tunes I play, I don’t need to use the whole bow.

One nice thing—Skype lessons open up the possibility of picking just the right teacher despite distances. I started with that approach about two years in and it’s worked out great.

A bit of advice. :) Enjoy the journey; it’s a long one for many of us. The nice thing is, little bits of Progress from regular practice add up.

Welcome to FHO! I got lots of support here when I was starting out and I hope we can offer the same to you!

Edited by - Cyndy on 09/18/2020 22:33:49

doryman - Posted - 09/20/2020:  10:21:17

Hey Doc, some great advice here. I have one more tip that I think is important. If you haven't done this already, start listening to the kind of music that you want to play. It's infinitely easier to play "Angeline the Baker," for example, if you know the tune in your head, if you can hum it, or sing it if there are words to the song. When you do this you're training your ear at the same time you're training your fingers and bowing arm.

Doc Savino - Posted - 09/20/2020:  10:47:52

Thanks for the advice! I do also play Bluegrass Banjo, so I hope that the approaches reinforce each other!

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