Playing the fiddle
August 23, 2006 8:18 PM   Subscribe

My wife is getting a fiddle (i.e. violin to be used for American fiddling style). What resources/books/videos can I get to help her learn?

She hasn't played any instrument before... also we're in a small town in east Texas, so I figure lessons will be impossible or difficult to find. I have a background in keyboards, so I told her she may have to drudge through a lot of scales and prace to get good. But she's eager to learn. I play a bit of piano/concertina so I may be able to help make it a bit fun. Any pointers here for lessons, books, or videos she can self-tutor with?
posted by hodyoaten to Media & Arts (6 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I had lessons in junior high, so I'm not sure what's good for self-instruction. I see that "American Fiddle Method, Vol. 1" gets good reviews at Amazon, though.

General advice: fiddle is one of those instruments that can sound truly godawful in the hands of a beginner, and it can be discouraging to the beginner and painful to anyone in earshot. Pick up a decent practice mute if you don't already have one. It'll still sound awful until she gets the technique down, but at least it won't be so loud.

And once she's got some skills and can read a little sheet music, pick up a copy of "The Fiddler's Fakebook" by David Brody. It's a great resource.
posted by hades at 9:42 PM on August 23, 2006

Bach Partitas
posted by umlaut at 11:16 PM on August 23, 2006

Marion Thede's Fiddle Book is a trove of old time American tunes, properly transcribed, and descriptions of the people who played them and their technique.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 11:26 PM on August 23, 2006

Have you checked the community ed offerings by your local high school? Sometimes they offer this kind of thing.

For help with technique, she should check out Violin Masterclass. There are dozens of (free) videos showing proper technique from beginners up to advanced.
posted by cabingirl at 6:07 AM on August 24, 2006

I picked up fiddling last year as a complete beginner. My teacher recommended the book "Beginning Old-Time Fiddle" by Alan Kaufman. It's a great beginner's book, and I still use it. More than anything, though, I benefitted from learning songs (and technique) directly from my teacher. I had planned to teach myself, but when I got home with the fiddle I just couldn't figure out where to start (or how to make noise, honestly). She will have an infinitely easier time picking up the instrument with an actual person to learn from, even if it's just someone who knows how to play but who isn't a "teacher." (And once she's got the basics down, self-teaching will be a lot easier!)
posted by robinpME at 8:53 AM on August 24, 2006

robinpME is right - I foresee great struggles and disappointment without lessons. Violins need a lot of work to sound like violins.

The suggestion of Bach partitas is bizarre. You need reasonable technique and good sight-reading to be able to play them, and I don't believe they would lend much to your fiddlin' style either.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 12:33 PM on August 24, 2006

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