Fall Practice Challenge

FiddleHed is running a Fall Practice Challenge. As Jason says, “It’s the time of year when fiddlers fall in love with practice by playing every day for two weeks.”

From October 7-20, fiddle students around the world will make music a regular part of their lives. The primary goal is to establish the habit of daily practice, and have the time of your their lives doing it! If music is a daily part of your life, then you are a musician. If you want to do this, you can. Simply do it every day.

If you would like to participate, just go to the Fall Practice Challenge 2019 – Home Page and sign up. Even non-members can participate! Each day, Jason will send an email to check in with you and cheer you on. He also made a way for you to easily track your practice online. You can click through the email to a page where you can mark off each day you practice. If you would prefer not to get daily emails, no problem! You’re still welcome to do the practice challenge on your own and use the materials on the Fall Practice Challenge 2019 – Home Page.

Visit Jason’s Fall Practice Challenge 2019 – Home Page to see how it works. There is plenty of information there, and some very helpful links.

As Jason says, “I’m asking you to take yourself seriously as a musician. What does that mean? You are a musician if you play every day. I encourage you to approach the practice challenge with a sense of adventure and fun. What a great thing it is to play music, and you’re going to do it every day!”

FiddleHed Members can post responses on the Fall Practice Challenge Page and participate in the Fall Challenge Group in the FiddleHed Forum at the Fall Practice Challenge Participants Thread. Non-members can access and read these two areas.

Thinking of trying FiddleHed? Jason offers a FREE trial with a series of FREE lessons via email and a FREE e-book for signing up entitled: A Little Guide to Becoming a Fiddler: Everything you need to know to easily learn and happily practice music.


So, are you up to the challenge?

My plan for the Fall Practice Challenge is to work on Swallowtail Jig. For me, I tend to jump around too much, never learning a complete tune as well as I probably should before I jump to a new tune. So, I am taking Swallowtail Jig, which I started learning recently, AND STICKING TO IT, until I can play it well, and closer to tempo. I tend to worry too much about tempo, and have difficulty playing the few tunes I know up to tempo. Jason recently told me not to worry about tempo. In his words:

Find a comfortable speed and loop it for WAY LONGER than you think. If you do that, something magical happens. Your body and mind relax. If you do want to push the tempo, do it incrementally using a metronome, keeping track of your fastest tempo. Also, enjoy the sound of all tunes at slower tempos. It’s different but beautiful in its own right. If you practice steadily at medium tempos now, you’ll be better positioned to play faster later.

And, he’s right! Yesterday, I concentrated on just playing it slowly and looping it over and over. I discovered 3 things: 1. It sounded better the more I played it; 2. I was able to begin to “forget” about the hand movements and they just began happening; 3. I was able to play longer than I think I have ever done (probably because I became more relaxed and didn’t have to stop to relax my hands and arms). I can “see” how this “way longer” looping will eventually result in “naturally” increasing the tempo when I am ready for it!

BTW…Did you know that the tune Swallowtail Jig was written in the middle of the Nineteenth Century and came to America with the Irish migrant caravan of that era. It is also known as The Dancingmaster and both names come from the men’s coat that forks in the back like the tail of the swallow, commonly called a Barn Swallow.

Here is a great version of Swallowtail Jig by The Turkey Creek String Band to listen to if you are not familiar with the tune. Enjoy! I have also uploaded my version of the Tabs and posted it in the Fiddle Tune Tabs section here if you want to learn this great jig along with me.

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