“Getting into Fiddling”
Just thought I would write a short note about this topic. It’s something I get asked about a lot, particularly from those trying to make the shift over from classical music and after teaching at three weeks of music camps this summer, I’ve been reminded of this common issue.
The first thing I like to tell students is that ‘fiddling’ is not really a genre. There are so many different styles of fiddling. Even within Celtic music there are the very specific styles of Scottish, Irish, Cape Breton, etc, and they can be broken down even more. So the first step is to find a style that you are really passionate about. And that means doing a lot of listening. Become familiar with the artists in the genre and get to know their repertoire. Attend sessions to see what the common repertoire is. Sticking to something that you love is always a good way to start out. All of these different fiddle styles have very specific nuances that separate them – bowings, grace notes, etc. Diving into everything at once can be daunting and it may difficult to become a good player of any one style.
The process of learning a style of music needs to be treated like learning a language. The bottom line is that to learn a language with all its idioms and inflections you have to be immersed in it. Learning a fiddle style is no different. And today we have great resources like youtube and itunes when a live experience isn’t possible.
If you are making the switch from classical to a style of fiddling, just know that it can certainly be done. One example I like to talk about is the great Irish fiddler, Liz Knowles. Liz began playing Irish music later in her career and is now one of the most respected fiddlers in Irish music with tours with Riverdance and the String Sisters.
Just remember to get into something that you love.