How to Master the Fiddle?

There's nothing like the sound of good fiddling and if you're planning on learning how to fiddle or improve on your fiddle playing, then it's a good bet that you're looking to master the fiddle.

One of the biggest questions most beginners looking for an instructor have is the question of fiddle vs violin. It is not uncommon for those who are unfamiliar with owning the instrument to ask if it is two separate instruments. However, you will soon learn that anyone can eventually play both or either with the same instrument and it is only a question of style. The main difference is that you will often need a different teacher, as the techniques used for one do not always transfer to the other. A fiddle player who is equally adept at classical violin is not impossible to find, but it is rare and one most likely would have studied under a separate teacher for each style to achieve such an endevour. Examples of the purely fiddle style would include bluegrass and Texas swing.

Most often, if a student is interested in Texas swing or bluegrass, a student will learn violin first and then find another specialist in the fiddle to continue studies in those areas. However, it is not unheard of especially in the southern states and Appalachia for a student to study under a fiddle teacher only with no classical influence. In this case, don’t expect that the student will know anything about classical violin even though it is the same instrument; he or she will not. The commonality of course is that both will know the notes and the feel of the strings, but that’s where it ends. The sound, technique, feel and action of the bow will be completely different. Also, classical traditionally relies more on notes and sight reading, where fiddle is more about using your ear and improvising.

To hear and understand the difference in styles, it is recommended that the student listen to traditional Texas swing players like Bob Wills and traditional bluegrass players as well as the more modern players like Charlie Daniels. The history of the fiddle, as well as the technique involved can then be more appreciated and understood fully. Finding a teacher who stresses this importance is usually a step in the right direction.

Well, in order to master the fiddle, you've got to study under the tutelage of a master of the instrument. That's the only way unless you're a genius who can just pick up the fiddle and play it like you were born. So given the number of fiddling masters about the world, it is a good be that you'll need to study in order to master the fiddle. First of all you need the tools and the time to search for a reputable teacher: one who knows all the ins and outs of fiddling. There won't be time for fooling around (or fiddling about if you will excuse the pun) in this respect because a good foundation in the art of playing the fiddle means valuable time you can't afford to lose.There are a number of fiddle players and schools available and it's up to you to search out which one really gets your attention. You'll be looking for the type of instructor who has experience, patience and a well rounded look at what it takes to go from the various skill levels to being someone who can master the fiddle. The instructor has got to know the instrument itself as fiddles are fickle devices that call for just the right construction. A real fiddler can tell the difference from a mass produced thing from a well crafted instrument that can last for decades on end and if you're going to master the fiddle, you'll need to get the best.

Along with a great teacher comes your own sense of determination and self worth as a musician. It's a matter of perseverance that any instructor is going to look to you for if you want to master the fiddle. You can't back away because things are going too tough, the fiddle is an instrument that is a part of many music genres and if you're going to master the fiddle, it starts with you and finding all of the help you can get.

Photo Credit:Joseph Brent

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