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Apr 10, 2020 - 12:08:39 AM
2 posts since 4/9/2020

I'm an aspiring player and have never had a proper lesson in the year or so i've played. With the neccessity of social distancing and new found time to play more, are online lessons worth it?

I really need to improve my bowing. I often find i'm tripping over certain passages when playing up to speed because of things like inconsistencies of slurs through noting ect. ect. and i'm finding it difficult to intentionally incorporate bowing patterns into tunes.

I'm also looking for potential online fiddle tutors! My interests are in oldtime and country western.


Apr 10, 2020 - 6:04:42 AM
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2307 posts since 10/1/2008

Well .... SKYPE lessons cost around a dollar a minute +/-. Bowing problems may be explored with a teacher that way. Many fiddlers lacking gigs right now due to cancellations are teaching with this program. Check out your favorite working fiddlers and determine if they are currently offering lessons.
I will tell you that I was having similar problems with my bowing. My teacher Annie Staninec told me I was trying to use too much bow. More wrist and finger less elbow and shoulder.

Apr 10, 2020 - 8:03:44 AM
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1857 posts since 8/27/2008

Originally posted by UsuallyPickin

. My teacher Annie Staninec told me I was trying to use too much bow. More wrist and finger less elbow and shoulder.

Cool, I know Annie a little bit. She's a fantastic fiddler.

Apr 10, 2020 - 8:09:45 AM
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4289 posts since 6/23/2007

Playing for just one year is not very long. And we don't know if you are using musical notation or playing by "ear". The two styles you mentioned are very different as well. For the average person, starting out with a single style will work better. Become a decent fiddler when playing that style, then start working on another. The playing technique differences between real "Old Time Fiddling" and "Country Western" are very different. I would guess that the average player who plays more than one style of fiddling play styles that have similarities.

If you haven't already done it, you should have a competent person watch you play and provide constructive criticism(s). If you are self taught from the beginning, you may well have technique problems that need correction. If I were in your position, I would focus at first on my using good playing techniques before anything else.

As far as instructional websites go, some teach tunes while others teach playing techniques. IMHO, a beginner should be more interested in learning techniques than tunes. Each tune should help you learn something new. Over time you will realize many tunes use similar musical ideas.

The website "FiddleHed" is a good website. He focuses on teaching playing techniques and commonly played tunes. His presentations are very effective. You can "pick up" lots of good ideas from that website. Take a look at some of his Youtube videos.

Apr 10, 2020 - 9:21:02 AM
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2534 posts since 10/6/2008

Are online lessons worth it? Some years ago, I carefully chose a teacher who could guide me in playing/bowing my chosen old-time styles. We’ve Skyped every other week ever since and it has been extremely satisfying and productive. So, based on that, I’d say yes!

Apr 10, 2020 - 10:04:49 AM

2 posts since 4/9/2020

Thanks y’all, this has been helpful. I suppose I meant person to person live lessons. At this point I’ve exhausted most of all the free online tutorials and need the critique of a professional.

So that being said, can bowing lessons/critiques be achieved in an online Skype style lesson?

Edited by - abrahymn on 04/10/2020 10:05:30

Apr 10, 2020 - 10:12:46 AM

2534 posts since 10/6/2008

Originally posted by abrahymn

... can bowing lessons/critiques be achieved in an online Skype style lesson?

For old-time bowing? I think so. For fine-tuning a very precise approach to holding and manipulating the bow? I'm not sure. I think the key is in finding a teacher who knows how to share the things that are wanting to be learned. Skype, for the most part, is like being in the same room.

Apr 10, 2020 - 1:57:47 PM
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185 posts since 4/15/2019

I say Amen to Fiddlehed! Jason is as good as they get!

Apr 11, 2020 - 2:47:51 PM


New Zealand

5 posts since 11/19/2019

Skype lessons are great. Highly recommend them!

Apr 19, 2020 - 4:17:44 PM
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345 posts since 7/31/2018

Can bowing lessons/critiques be achieved in an online Skype style lesson?

Absolutely. My students are living proof.

Your bow is your heartbeat. It's your rhythm and pulse, literally. That's what makes fiddle music.

I won't go so far to give percentages, but in many ways, your bow matters more than the actual notes you play. What I mean by that is if you miss a note or play a wrong note, that isn't going to be noticed if your pulse and drive are going strong and you have a good groove. If your pulse and drive get outta groove, well...all those perfect left hand notes won't mean a thing.

People are always so quick to recommend free tutorials via YouTube. That doesn't help us teachers gain students, which is our living. That aside, everybody thinks differently, and a technique taught a single way isn't going to register with everybody. You don't have the chance to say "Wait, I don't understand that. My arm is doing what yours is doing, but I'm not sounding like that. This isn't working for me. What do I need to do?" A good private teacher will answer those questions for you and take the time it takes for you to get it. A good private teacher understands their students, and knows how to explain things in ways that makes sense to them. The private teacher also monitors what you are learning, introduces concepts gradually to maximize your learning, and chooses material selectively so you are learning things at your personal rate of progression. These building blocks will help you learn different tunes on your own. You will be able to apply the concepts to other tunes, even ones you learn on the fly in jams. 

A good private teacher also helps and encourages you find your own sense of style and groove. When someone learns from YouTube tutorials, their tendency is to copy exactly what is being presented. Everybody's sense of style is a bit different. It's your voice. 

Many people hear good fiddling and want to jump right into that. It's only natural. But because of that, they tend to skip a lot of the rudimentary, but very important stuff that gives them a good foundation. They then get frustrated because they are not sounding like they want to, and then quit the online tutorials and remain dissatisfied with their playing. A good teacher builds your foundation with you, one element at a time. 

Edited by - FiddlerPaul71 on 04/19/2020 16:34:40

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