I’ve been a member of Fiddlehed – Online Fiddle Lessons for Beginners for just about a month now. This is my review.
Who is Fiddlehed?
Fiddlehed is Jason Kleinberg. He is a violinist, songwriter and composer who has been teaching private and group fiddle lessons for over 21 years. He has toured the U.S. and Europe as a solo artist and with the gypsy-rock band Diego’s Umbrella and the bluegrass-rock band called The Pine Box Boys. He has composed music for tv, radio and film including the score to Gumby Dharma, a full length documentary about Gumby and his creator Art Clokey. When not touring, he gives fiddle lessons and creates videos for his video channel called FiddleHed. He lives in San Francisco with his cat, Kitty, and sometimes does other things, like walking, or eating cereal.
What is Fiddlehed?
Fiddlehed is Jason’s membership website where he offers lessons that are a combination of old school learning by ear combined with the tools of video, mp3 audio and notation. When he first started teaching, Jason put together a book of exercises and tunes called Fiddlehed. It slowly evolved as he learned how people learn a new skill. He moved away from the book and started getting people to learn and play entirely by ear.
He started making videos which eventually were to become part of the Fiddlehed site, a place where students could have a complete learning experience. He continued to build the course with lessons on tunes, technique and practice, and is still adding material on a weekly basis.
The Fiddlehed Philosophy
In Jason’s words from the Fiddlehed Website…
Students learn everything they need to know about playing the fiddle through tunes. Instead of forcing students to first do something that may not be useful or fun, FiddleHed draws students in by teaching tunes and then showing how music works within the context of those tunes.
So if you’re learning Swallowtail Jig, you’ll learn about the E dorian scale as well as string crossing with the bow. That way you naturally see the connection between the tunes and technique. This makes the work of practicing necessary exercises and scales more fun because you immediately see how they are applied in the music you are playing.
FiddleHed also emphasizes good practice habits so that your daily sessions are consistent, productive and fun. That way you will continue to have small successes each time you play.
Remember: You are a musician if you play every day.
Fiddlehed is Top Notch
I really like and appreciate Jason’s approach to teaching. If you read my post, Deliberate Practice, you read about K. Anders Ericsson, a leading researcher and authority in the psychological nature of expertise and human performance and his Major Principles of Deliberate Practice. These Principles are Dr. Ericsson’s synthesis of over 30 years of studying expert performance in many fields, such as medicine, music, and athletics, and how structured, sustained, consistent, and purposeful hard work (read: practice) is how expert practitioners in their field of work acquire their superior performance. For Ericsson, it’s not the length of practice (the debunked 10,000 hour rule), but the quality of practice that counts.
After reading about Ericsson’s research, it became quite apparent to me that this was the outline Jason was using in structuring the Fiddlehed Online Lessons, and this was confirmed by Jason in an email after I asked if he was familiar with Ericsson’s work. Jason has read Ericsson’s book, Peak, and is incorporating Ericsson’s philosophy and principles into his Fiddlehed Online Lessons, just about insuring that any serious student can learn to play the fiddle proficiently.
Jason has a ton of videos on YouTube, probably more than he has on his lesson site. One can greatly benefit form his YouTube videos, and many have, but just using his YouTube videos would not be as beneficial to learning how to play the fiddle as joining Fiddlehed. In addition to instructional videos, the Fiddlehed membership website offers step-by-step lessons in a complete step-by-step course. It offers practice tips and strategies, play-along tracks, color-coded tabs, sheet music, and more in a well-organized, easily understandable and progressive style and method. And, who would have thought learning would be this much fun, too? Jason’s interesting, unique, and quirky personality along with his good sense of humor make learning from him a pleasure.
Other than my fiddle, joining Fiddlehed has been the best investment I have made thus far this year. If you are like me and don’t have a local teacher, or even if you do and just want additional lessons, I highly recommend Jason and the Fiddlehed member website.