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Fiddle techniques


AJ

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Frankly, most of the videos I've seen were either by classically trained players trying to make a buck or by some of the old timey guys who's hand position was a thing of horror. I, too, have been looking for a decent video by someone who: 1)Actually knows how to play fiddle and 2)Can at least approximate correct hand positions. Good luck!

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I agree that a good teacher would be best, but I have been unable to find one that can either works with my schedule, or that has room for me in theirs. There is not a lot of fiddlers, particularly Irish ones, in this neck of the woods. A friend of mine takes lessons from a woman who was classically trained, but she doesn't even correct his terrible bow hold. I have one video that teaches some technique, but in the context of learning tunes, and it's fairly basic anyway. There must be a good video out there somewhere

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You misunderstand. If you hold the bow in the middle, you can bow from either end. And who needs the little finger anyway unless it's part of a paw?

If you bend your left wrist correctly, you can hold the violin up to your chin, and you don't even need a chin rest. Seriously, this is actually a legitimate part of some fiddle traditions. Although it seriously cramps your style if you play in upper positions, it is possible (but difficult) to learn to play that way.

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Just a thought: If this fiddling business is important to you, I would recommend making a vacation out of traveling to take a few lessons from a good teacher. Kevin Burke is available here in Portland Oregon where we have a wealth of Irish community and top Irish musicians who also teach. Come visit, and make lessons the focus of your time off. The results are sure to be something you can take back home with you and add to your playing enjoyment for life.

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Interesting website legenyes, thanks. Ken, I would love to take a lesson from Kevin Burke. I saw him play here in Vancouver recently with two other fiddlers (one from Quebec, one from Britany) and it was a terrific concert. Oregon isn't too far away so I might look into doing that, it would be fun to make a vacaion out of fiddling. Maybe I should do a search for his name, he might have video out.

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I'm a fiddler who plays old-time music. Suggestion: there is an excellent fiddler named Brad Leftwich (Leftwitch?) who has a couple instructional videos that I hear are quite good.

What I really recommend is finding the local fiddle session...there probably is one near you somewhere...and going there weekly, sitting in the background and playing softly. You will learn more in a month of that than you ever will from any video.

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Oh, and TropMom, a question:

I don't understand your "thing of horror" comment about hand positions. A lot of fiddlers don't think about things like hand positions because it's not relevant to traditional music.

It reminds me of a comment someone made a while back on this board about how posture is important and that they were horrified at the posture some fiddler had. This made me laugh, since I could not at all understand why posture was relevant. Someone posted a good point: that if I went to see the Philadelphians and half of them had their legs crossed or were hunched down, I'd be horrified.

True. Because it's relevant in classical music. In fiddling it's not relevant. Fiddlers don't worry about hand positions. That's just the way it is. These are two different musical worlds with two different sets of rules.

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Oh-oh. We seem to be starting another war here, but I have to come to the aid of TropicalFruitMom (then get the heck out of here). I wouldn't quite say it's bad to pay attention to posture and hand positions. Unless the player is very, very practiced, you can hear it. You may be able to hear it from the next county. I don't want to say that's bad. I guess if you want a rustic sound, it's OK to play that way, but if you ever want to play classical music, you will probably have a needlessly hard time. It's your preference.

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Right, La....

No war at all here. I have no interest whatever in playing classical music. In fact, I have been playing for nearly 30 years and can't read.

Just wanted to point out that to a fiddler, chances are "hand position" is totally irrelevant. And yes, call it rustic or whatever, fiddlers generally want a different sound than do classical players.

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Ahh... The war of fiddle holds, at least it's a departure from shoulder-rests. Check how the French fiddler shown in sketches on these interesting fiddle pages, is holding the violin 90 degrees down and flat against his chest.

He's off to the right of a sketch when you check on 'Cruzatte’s Fiddlin’' Listen to the songs too.

www.lewis-clark.org/singing.htm

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Quote:

Frankly, most of the videos I've seen were either by classically trained players trying to make a buck or by some of the old timey guys who's hand position was a thing of horror. I, too, have been looking for a decent video by someone who: 1)Actually knows how to play fiddle and 2)Can at least approximate correct hand positions. Good luck!


Don't worry about the hand positions. Look for someone who sounds right and then look at what their bow arm is doing and listen to their timing. Most of the sound of fiddling is in the bow hand, not in the left hand and every fiddle technique I know of can be done with good classical positioning. Sometimes, it can be a little harder that way but I believe it's doable.

If you're trying to learn how to do roll, cuts, and stuff (which I don't really understand myself), I'm sure you can do those left hand techniques with good classical positioning. So look at the video, take what you want from the techniques shown, try it the way you want to do it, and listen to see if it sounds the way you want.

If you're really serious about it, make it a point to regularly record yourself and listen to yourself afterwards.

- Ray

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Thanks Toc, I'll look for that name. I have recently found a trad session at a pub, but the trouble is that I work afternoons and the session only happens on Monday evenings. Sometimes I get to it, sometimes I don't, and I don't know most of the tunes they play, and it seems nobody has the music for them or, in many cases, even the titles. It is fun, though.

As far as posture goes, I'm one of those people who started out on Suzuki, then switched to traditional Irish. I find posture is quite important to the sound as I have trouble getting the violin to fit properly as I'm taller than average, and have a long neck. I have gone through three shoulder rests, and four chin rests a chiropractor and now massage therapy. If I don't play properly my right should hurts, my left hand aches, and all the muscles in my back tense up. I try hard to play relaxed and with proper posture or it sounds awful, but I think I really still need to find a physiotherapist who can tell me what I, personally, need to do to correct some of my posture problems. I won't be playing long if I don't play properly.

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I found this link on an ABC tune converter page:

http://learn-to-play.com/index.asp?PageAct...mp;Category=214

No idea about the company, but several well-known fiddlers do have videos out there, obviously. I'd be suspicious of anything beginning with "Anyone can play..." but some of the others look interesting. (I actually acquired a Brad Leftwich tape somewhere/somehow, but if you're not into old-time, it will possibly not do much for you - it didn't for me.)

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Thanks for the links everyone, there's some good stuff out there! The one site has a lot of links for Canada, but most of it is back east, some in Alberta and Saskachewan. Still, some good links to musicians I was unaware of, though.

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