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Fiddle Lessons: Principles and Gear

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we're gonna talk about some practicing
principles and
ideas, and also some of the gears that you
can use to practice with,
to help you progress faster.
There are definitely some ways that you
can do this, to make your time,
your practice time, go faster, and to
progress faster.
As we know, I think everybody has
realized, you pick this instrument up, and
you realize that there are some things
about it that are not easy.
This is not the easiest instrument in the
There are no real references, like there
are with a piano.
You could walk over to a piano, put your
hand down, boom, you get a note.
A guitar, if it's sort of in tune, you
could pick it up, boom,
there's some kinda thing, a note.
You can just, put your fingers down,
play a chord, it's gonna sound like
something if it's in tune.
With this, you can get, the instrument
perfectly in tune.
[SOUND] And still not be able to make a
I think that everybody has experienced
this, probably is experiencing it.
[SOUND] I experience it every, day, right,
when I first pick up the instrument.
There are some days when I feel like I
never spent any time at all,
learning this instrument.
How do I, how did I do it?
[SOUND] Other days, I feel pretty good.
So, it's just it's a lot like life.
[LAUGH] just regular life, right?
Some days you just get up and you feel
like oh, what, what am I doing?
So one of the nice things about this
is that it does sort of remind you of real
life, and sometimes a little too much.
Anyway, so, one of the basic principles
about practicing the violin, or
any instrument, is to spend the time you
have practicing, practicing right.
You can spend a lot of time practicing
stuff wrong, you can spend a lot of time
going over and over again, stuff, you're,
what you're basically,
if you're not really focusing on what
you're doing, you're basically
just practicing, practicing how to do it
wrong, and we don't want that.
Your hands are like, they're kinda like
They're like I don't know how many of you
have cat or a dog, but you know,
the cat likes to come into the room in the
morning, do the same thing.
Dogs, cats, a lot of animals, they just
have, get into a rout, routine and
they like to do the same every day, and
they get into the grove.
Your fingers, your hands are sort of like
in that they are good at getting used to
doing the same thing, every day.
So, that's what we wanna do.
We wanna get our fingers and hands trained
to do that same thing every day,
and we want to train them to do it right.
So, how do we get, get it going right?
We do it slowly.
We do a tiny bit.
We just do the amount that we can do
right, which might be,
if we're talking about a whole tune.
Oh, I was playing out of tune.
I just practiced, playing out of tune.
And, I practiced playing badly, because I
played the whole tune.
Is there a problem?
Where's the problem?
I need to focus.
That first note, that was out of tune.
Maybe I just need to practice the first
Maybe I just need to practice.
that shouldn't take very long to get that
right, if you're just playing one note.
If you can do that, even if it takes five
whole minutes to get that first note, or
two notes right, it's worth it,
because, once you get it right, it's gonna
stay there.
It's gonna stay right, and
then you're not practicing stuff wrong,
over and over again.
So, that's super important.
We're gonna be coming back to that
all through from beginning to advanced
We're gonna keep focusing in, focusing in,
until we can find a piece of the puzzle,
that we can play right.
so here's the second part of the
practicing bit here.
Okay, so gear.
Well you have to have a fiddle.
That's pretty important if you're going to
be doing this.
So you've got your fiddle lets say you've
got your fiddle.
And we're gonna have sections on how to
chose a good one, how to keep,
take care of the one you've got, stuff
like that.
But for right now, lets say we've got our
We put the bow on the string.
we hear that there's definitely a problem.
What's the problem?
It's out of tune.
So how are we gonna tune that?
We are gonna take an outside reference.
If you're playing in a band, maybe
somebody in the band is already in tune.
You can ask them for an A note.
We usually start with the A string.
On the fiddle, which happens to be the
string that is way out of tune right now.
So we can either take our little tuning
fork here.
Hit it on our knee.
Hold it on the bridge, it makes a sound.
Then we go hm, better do that again.
Okay, there's definitely a discrepancy.
And this is something you're just gonna
have to learn to do, match.
We can do it right there.
If you can do it with your, your singing.
You can get it in there.
You can do it with your instrument.
And that's a whole skill that might seem
difficult, at first.
But it's not that difficult, after you've
done it for a couple of weeks.
Okay, so we remember that note.
This tune is flat.
Okay, that is one way to do it.
It's very close.
Another way to do it is to have your
tuner, we've talked about the tuners.
I like this little tuner but there are
many really good tuners on the market.
This ones great because it clips on, it
hardly weighs anything, and
it looks incredibly cool on stage, it
looks like you're watching
some kind of science fiction movie, you
know, and you're a little.
So then, we see the tuner,
we can see it here on your overhead
camera, it's showing up.
It's a little bit hard to see in the
but you can see that there's a moving.
You just line it up by sight.
There it is.
We start with the A string.
Then we go to the D string.
Tune that up.
G string.
E string.
As you can see.
I'm reaching around here to these fine
Moving them, reaching under the bow.
I can also be doing it down here.
These are tricky.
I would recommend for Bluegrass players,
fine tuners.
It really helps your life a lot.
So this is a wonderful thing.
Get that thing in tune.
And then of course, we want to spend time.
How the instrument sounds.
When it's in tune.
Once you get that thing in tune.
To spend a little time listening.
How the strings ring together on
your instrument, every instrument sounds a
little different.
But just get used to that, you can develop
a memory for.
That good sound of a, an in tune fiddle,
and that's what you wanted.
Develop, okay.
So then when we're playing slow tunes,
fast tunes we talk about, we're gonna be
talking about doing long bows.
We have the metronome.
I like this metronome because it's loud.
It's adjustable.
It also has a, like a sound of a wood
block, which is really nice.
So a lot of electronic metronomes on the
market, which actually make a note.
The go beep, beep, beep, beep and it's.
It, it makes a noise.
Like, why would you?
You know, it's very hard to play with.
So this is, these kind of metronomes are
nicer because they actually have a,
a kind of a percussion sound.
So I like these.
They also have one that comes in the color
Which might be a little nicer for some
people that, who like the color black.
So as you can see it's adjustable.
It goes faster, it goes slower.
You can set this down to as slow as you
So if you, when you're playing your slow
Can set it on the on beat.
One, two, three, four.
Or you can set it,
another trick is to set it twice as fast
as what you're trying to play.
[SOUND] So I had it set to 60, and now I'm
setting it to 120,
which is double the speed, right?
120 is nice.
It's kinda like.
If I don't have a metronome, and I need to
know what 120 is,
I always sing a Sousa march, and it gets
me right there.
I'm still bowing at the same speed, but.
The metronome twice as fast helps me feel
where the in between beats are.
we're using that metronome as a guide when
we wanna play something.
When we're trying to work out something
In order to get that feeling really good,
to get it really perfect, we want to slow
it down.
Now, what I did, just did,
is one of the mistakes that you do when
you're practicing.
You start slow.
You get bored.
You start speeding up, and then you're
practicing it wrong,
you're playing it wrong, you're practicing
playing it wrong.
So, the nice thing about the metronome is
it really keeps you enforced.
It forces me to stay at that tempo, and
think about what I'm doing, and
make sure that I'm playing it correctly at
a slow tempo.
And then gradually, I can speed that up.
I can set if rom 60 to 76 and try that.
Okay, here's another interesting rule.
The rule of three.
If you can play it perfectly three times
in a row then it's time.
You can move on, you can let yourself move
on to a faster tempo.
So we're at 76, let's move up to 88.
See how we do.
That's pretty good.
Now here's, here would be the temptation,
to go, oh hey, let's put 160.
Obviously, we're going
to have to go back, that was terrible, so,
we're going to have to go back.
Let's go back to, you're at 70.
We're at 80 or something like that.
So now we're gonna go back to 100.
See if we can do it.
Let's go back a little.
Here we go.
Again feel that.
So you get the idea.
We're using the metronome to get us to a
place where we are playing it perfect,
correctly go a little faster every time.
If we keep practicing it right then.
We will eventually get to the place where
we can play it as fast as we need to, but
you can't skip over this stuff.
You can't take short cuts because,
especially with the fiddle,
because there's just no sound more
horrible than playing the fiddle badly.
one more piece of gear that we don't have
here in the studio right at this minute.
But I would totally recommend, playing in
front of a mirror,
because, we have a lot of technical things
that need to happen with this instrument,
because the instrument is so flexible, we
have to be more precise.
Because if if it was just, you know,
if it was just a piano, we could sort of
come at it, any way, and
we could get something out of it, without
having to worry too much about technique.
But for this instrument, you really have
to be on your game, and
you have to make sure that, that bow is
Stay across the strings, and
that our position is correct.
Left hand position correct, and the best
way to do that for for a long time, is to
make sure you're looking good in a mirror,
you know, you're looking for that box.
You're looking for the bow crossing the
string at the right angle,
you're looking for your elbow to be a
little bit up.
You're looking for the good hand position.
You're looking for the, not collapsed
wrist, straight wrist.
You're looking for the elbow, could be
over like this.
You're looking for the fiddle to be up,
and out at an angle.
You're looking for all these things, its
hard to do that,
if you're not seeing what you're doing.
And, a mirror really helps.
So, if you have a full length mirror, even
just a, a mirror,
somewhere in the bathroom, the bathroom is
a great place to practice,
especially the fiddle, it sounds great, in
the bathroom.
Just like singing in the shower.
So, try it out.
Don't be getting into the shower and
running the shower while you're trying to
practice, because the mirror's gonna fog
up, and the instrument will fall apart.
But other than that, it's a great place to
do it.
So, we've got our tuners.
We've got our metronome, and we've got our
Three very important pieces of gear, for