Tips to Help You Practice

Apr 01, 2016

Hi, welcome to my fiddle vlog. Here I just talk about a few things, some suggestions about learning, and what to expect when you’re first starting out on the fiddle. One of the things I want to talk about today was just practicing in a real practical way because I know that a lot of you have a full-time jobs and careers and have a really busy schedule. So when you start playing the fiddle and violin, you have to play it every day. You really need to… and sometimes that can be a lot of pressure when you have a full day and a busy day especially when you’ve got kids and stuff like that.

So what I recommend is, number one, leave your fiddle out. Don’t put it up unless you have a small little kid that might get a hold of it and pull the strings off or whatever or a cat that might knock it off the table or something. But they do make these things called fiddle hangers and you can hang your fiddle on the wall and that is a great way to always have it out and in your face so that you’ll pick it up and practice. So I think the worst thing to do when you’re done playing is to put it in a case and put it under your bed because the next day you won’t see it and you might forget to practice. So leave your fiddle out, that’s number one.

Number two is that don’t feel like you have to practice for an hour everyday or even 30 minutes. If you have a busy day, a hectic schedule, just leave your fiddle out and pick maybe two tunes a day. It’s a great routine to get into where you’re going to pick up the fiddle every day and you make yourself play two fiddle tunes and it could be anything from Mon Vieux Wagon to J’ai Passé Devant Ta Porte. But if you do that, if you play a waltz and a two-step, I think that’s a great way to keep in touch with the fiddle every day, and you’re going to see yourself getting better and it will keep you also from getting a rut. So there’s a lot of little things that you can do just to stay in touch with the fiddle every day. Even if you’re having a really crazy day, you don’t even have the time, to play two fiddle tunes, I mean one thing you can do is just pick up the fiddle and then just do some bowing exercises like…one is just doing a down bow and an up bow on every open string [02:55] and you rock in to the other strings [03:02].

One great exercise that I like a lot, it just teaches you about bow control and the weight of the bow is…if you start a down bow on let’s just say the A string [03:18], when you get to the middle of the bow, pick the bow up and set it down by the tip of the bow and then do an up bow [03:26]. When you get to the middle part, lift it up again and set it by the frog and do a down bow [03:34]. This is a great exercise [03:38]. You can even switch strings if you want [03:42].

Your bow will bounce a little bit at first and you’ll make some really nasty sounds at first but that’s normal. What this little exercise does is it helps you to learn about the weight of the bow. When you use the bow you’re supposed to let all the weight of the bow down on the strings. So it will help you to learn how to do that and not hold the bow up. So that’s a great little thing that takes five minutes.  So if you’re having a really crazy day, even if you do something like that, then you at least are doing something with the fiddle that day and that’s better than just not playing it at all or not messing with the fiddle at all. So just always remember that every day that you play the fiddle you’re getting better and that’s a good way to motivate yourself. I also heard Michael Doucet say one time…I really liked this…he said that “sometimes you get the fiddle out and you don’t even know what to do but it doesn’t matter if you play the fiddle and whatever you do with it, you’re getting better and at least you’re playing the fiddle.” There may be some days you don’t feel like playing a fiddle tune, I have those days, and those can be days where you can just explore the strings and the fiddle and try different things that sometimes just trying different patterns that you’ve learned from other tunes [05:09].

There was one that I used to do that I liked a lot. I think I learned it from a Suzuki teacher I used to have and it was like [05:30], you know, just little things like that. There’s all kinds of fun stuff you can do, you can try to write a tune [05:57]. Have fun with it and don’t be afraid to just mess around, don’t be afraid to make mistakes and just explore the instrument. Every day that you touch it and mess with it and get more comfortable with it, more familiar with it, you’re getting better.

So that’s my approach, leave your instrument out. I’ve heard people say, “I leave it out and I still don’t practice or I still I’m just too busy.” So I say put it on top of your pillow where you sleep and then before you go to bed you have to pick this thing up to go to bed. So if you pick it up you should do something with it. It is a huge dedication but if you want to learn how to play this instrument, those are little things that can help you out. So take my advice and other teachers and just stay inspired and stick with it. Okay. Thank you so much for joining my vlog. I have some more vlogs about other things about the fiddle. Thank you, have a good day.

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