Bowing the correct string(s) and cleanly transitioning between notes are essential skills to learning how to play the fiddle and sounding good.
I am currently learning a few simple beginner fiddle tunes.
- Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star
- Mary Had a Little Lamb
- Freres Jacques
- When the Saints Go Marching In
- Ode to Joy
I tend to switch between these tunes during my practice sessions, so I don’t get bored and especially when I get frustrated with one tune. I have noticed on the tunes I don’t yet know by heart, I can play them while reading the Tabs. That’s progress! The tempo may be a little off, but right now I am more concerned with bowing and fingering.
However, I can’t seem to get through an entire tune without occasionally crossing strings or messing up transitioning between notes. Some run-throughs sound better than others. Yesterday, I found myself playing Twinkle, Twinkle Little Start over and over again, determined to power through it and play it all the way through without a mistake. I couldn’t do it!
Then it dawned on me that I need to back up a bit and do some isolated exercises practicing string crossing and clean sound. So, I turned to Fiddlehed. Jason has a few basic videos (and a bunch of exercises on his subscription site) to help practice string crossing and clean sound. I need to go back, practice these again, and then come back to the tunes. I’m sure I will be watching and practicing along with these videos for some time. Here are two of them.
Training my bowing arm where to go and cleanly moving from one note to another with my fingering can’t be learned in a day or a couple of weeks. I will need to be mindful of this when I get frustrated, and practice these techniques again and again.