Natural Ornaments

When we listen to music played or sung, ornaments are everywhere, but we barely notice. Stop and listen to a singer on the radio. Nobody sings without a slide or grace note note here and there, going into or out of a note.

That’s because ornamentation is part and parcel of the language. The use of these musical decorations varies depending on the dialect (the fiddle style), but it fits right in effortlessly, at least when you’re listening to it. In fact, most people hardly pay any mind to ornaments until we actually try to play them. Then we wonder how it’s done, and if we’re looking at it on paper, we struggle with making those grace notes sound like the ones we’ve heard.

Grace notes are not only integral to musical language, they’re also built into the way we speak. If we write lyrics to a tune, each note could be a syllable. But the grace notes, triplets, and slides are the consonants. Let’s take a look at some examples of this.

Continue reading Natural Ornaments

Finding the Beat, part 1

The heartbeat of music is, you guessed it, the beat.  Learners often focus on trying to play or memorize the notes of a tune and sometimes make the mistake of taking the beat for granted.  It’s a mistake because the beat holds all those notes together and turns them into music.

How do you find the beat?  Below, we’ll take a look at how to figure out where the beat is in a tune, whether 1) by feel or 2) on paper, with illustrations.

(Intermediate and advanced players may also find the next article thought provoking.  The beat is anything but a click on a metronome.  Where is it located, exactly, and how can we make the most of it?  This is something we’ll take a look at.)

1. Where is the beat, by feel

It is very common that a learner may focus so much on playing the notes of a tune in sequence that they don’t think about which notes are the beat notes, and may get confused as to how to find them.

Continue reading Finding the Beat, part 1

Covid Meets Online Fiddling

For years, we have been meeting online at www.fiddle-online.com to bring together learners from all over, people who have no teacher, or who like what we do, or who need to or prefer to stay home, or who want to meet and learn from great players from afar. Now the Covid virus is forcing us to stay home and do just that.  We’re responding by offering a new feature:  live concerts!

Fiddle-online.com is a great resource for those who need to be home, those who play or want to play fiddle music. Over 100 blog articles about a huge variety of topics to do with learning the fiddle, over 100 tunes to learn, over 60 technique videos, over 100 workshops with Ed Pearlman, some 20 guest fiddlers presenting concert/workshops — and all of these events have materials that are available to everyone — performance and teaching videos, audio, and fiddle-online’s unique interactive sheet music.

Of course we also feature unique live workshops, where learners can meet each other and the instructor, play with and for the instructor, and earn lots of points (you’ll have to attend one to understand about these!). There are also weekly online classes progressing from fiddle basics to intermediate level. If you would enjoy such a class, get in touch with me to learn about what’s available. If enough are interested in a beginner class, we’ll start one!

Now we offer a new resource — live concerts. In response to the Covid19 virus, and the cancelling of all gigs and income for so many musicians, we’re trying a series of concerts featuring many of our guest instructors. They’re free, and yet they allow those who can to donate to the musicians who are so hurting for income in these strange times of a pandemic. As I write this, the Covid Concerts begin tomorrow, with a daily fiddle concert online and free to all, from March 23 to April 4, 2020.

I hope you’ll listen to some or all of these concerts, and let them lift your spirits! If you can, please support the musicians who are donating their time to play for us.

If you would like to hear about future live concerts on fiddle-online, join our special concert email list, and feel free to pass the word to friends who might not be learners but enjoy hearing the music!  Just use or pass along this URL — http://eepurl.com/bifEmD — to subscribe to this special list, which will be used only for concert announcements.

We’re here 24/7 with lots of resources for you to enjoy, as well as fun live workshops where you can meet and get to know other learners from near and far.

Stay safe, stay healthy, and keep up your music!

©2020 Ed Pearlman

5 Most Popular fiddle-online posts!

Launched in February 2015, fiddle-online explores ways that the internet can best help learners, players and teachers of the fiddle.  About two articles per month have been posted to this blog since then, adding up to over 100!

Here are five of the most popular articles over the past five years.

1.  “A Treasury of Techniques, in short video form” —  click here
This article outlines the five different Technique Video Groups available on fiddle-online and describes how you can make use of these 62 short videos (about 10 in each group), plus the sampler that allows you to try one video from each of the five groups. These cover physical and ergonomic warmups, games to improve efficiency, expression and control, bowing techniques to bring your tunes to life, finger patterns, and ornamentation.

2. “When Push Comes to Pull … a New Year’s Resolution” — click here
Starting from the research that New Year’s resolutions don’t work unless they remove obstacles to your goals rather than impose wishful demands on yourself, this article focuses primarily on how to remove obstacles from good bowing technique by visualizing properly how your bow arm actually works. Did you know the downbow is a push, and the upbow a pull? Read this one to get a grasp on a way to improve your bowing instantly.

3. “Auld Lang Syne, the song and tune” — click here
Learn a bit of the history of this very popular song written by Robert Burns, who chose a different melody than the one popularly used every New Year’s Eve. To see both melodies, check out the link above, and to see the melody the popular version appears to be based on, read this one!

4. “Medleys 2: Compatible Tunes” — click here
This article gives you six approaches to finding tunes that are compatible with each other in a medley, and then tells you how to break the rules!

5. “Finding Your Style among over 150 tunes!” — click here
Here at fiddle-online there are well over 150 tunes available with videos, interactive sheet music, and more learning materials that were offered in past live online workshops. You have access to them all, and this article allows you to find tunes based on the styles you’re interested in exploring. One article gives an intro to these offerings and gives you links to the Scottish tunes and guests; the next article provides links to tunes of many other styles: Irish, Old-timey, American, Jazz, Scandie, Quebecois, Cape Breton, Klezmer.

Enjoy exploring these articles and the links they provide!

©2020 Ed Pearlman

 

Forget About Forgetting!

Forgetting is not quite what we think it is. Every time we remember something we re-mind ourselves, recreate it, collect all the clues and revisit it — contrary to the imagery about the brain that has dominated since the invention of the computer, our brain is not a computer. It does not process data like a computer. In fact, it doesn’t even contain data.

A fascinating article by the prominent research psychologist, Robert Epstein, totally debunks the notion that our brains function like a computer, although this has been the mainstream image among scientists and the public since the 1940s when computers were invented.

Epstein speaks of performing music or reciting a poem. “When called on to perform, neither the song nor the poem is in any sense ‘retrieved’ from anywhere in the brain, any more than my finger movements are ‘retrieved’ when I tap my finger on my desk. We simply sing or recite – no retrieval necessary.”

What happens to all that mental effort to memorize a tune? Continue reading Forget About Forgetting!

Tricks & Tips: Personal Home Page

When you log in to fiddle-online.com, you are taken directly to your own personal home page. You’ll see your name listed, your current number of credits, and a number of other features:

    • Green box — shows links to the materials you are currently signed up for and their expiration dates.
    • Pink box — shows expired links — clicking on any of these will renew those materials at a 1/3 discount.
    • Chatbox* — chat with everyone or anyone and view messages from others. More details below!*
    • Pitchpipe — use it to tune your fiddle! Just click on the letter of the string to hear an endless loop of a fiddle playing that string until you click “stop”.
    • Supporter link — click this to donate $ or credits to help support the site, and receive occasional emails (2-3 per year) about what’s going on behind the scenes with an invitationto provide any feedback you may have.

Links in the Top area:

Continue reading Tricks & Tips: Personal Home Page

Live Workshops — what to expect!

Fiddle-online.com has pioneered a mix of live online workshops with interactive sheet music — if you haven’t tried a live event, here’s what to expect.

We use Zoom to connect; you can learn more about it at this link. It’s high quality and easy to use. Once you sign up for an event, you’ll have access to a link, as well as learning materials. At class time, you’ll simply click to join the group.

Types of Live Events

There are several kinds of live events on fiddle-online.com — the monthly Sunday guest concert/workshop featuring top players from around the world, the Thursday tunelearning workshops with Ed Pearlman, which are centered around a monthly topic (see the past workshops page for a list of monthly topics), and the Wednesday classes which are 8-week sessions aimed at particular levels (starting with beginners in Sept and progressing to Intermediate level 2 in the spring).  When a new session is available for signup, there is an info button on the Current Workshops page.

Live Event vs Materials-Only

Learning materials for workshops are available 24/7 online, starting from the moment you sign up and lasting until at least 30 days after the live event. After a live workshop is over, a teaching video is posted for review, and for those who missed the live event. A performance video is also available from the concert/workshop. In addition to these videos, of course, you have access to

Continue reading Live Workshops — what to expect!

Please let me know what you think!

Now that there are about 100 articles available to you here, I’d love to hear from you about the fiddle-online blog.  I tried that “surveymonkey” thing, which theoretically is great because it’s easy for people to submit answers to me — but nobody (not one person!) actually tried it!  (If you want to try it, here’s the link.)

So just email me!  Please take a moment to let me know your thoughts.

–How often do you read these articles?

–What topics have you found most helpful or thought-provoking?

–Have you used the Search box or the Archives to find past articles?  Or the recent links in the column at the left?

–Any suggestions for topics you’d like to read about or other ideas about the blog?

Many thanks!

–Ed

Guest Treasures

Without much fanfare, fiddle-online makes available performances and teaching 24/7 of some of the top contemporary fiddlers. As with everything at the site, it’s available a-la-carte and at a very low cost (80% of which goes to the guest artist, so an excellent cause!). See below for info about cost and logging in, etc.*

Below are some descriptions and links to more info about guest workshops by great players with varying styles of expertise: Scottish, Cape Breton, Irish, Quebecois, Old-timey, gypsy jazz and klezmer.

For the list and links, click Continue! —

Continue reading Guest Treasures

Links to Learning Tunes – part 2

Last time we talked about finding the support materials you’re looking for to learn different styles of tunes on fiddle-online.com with a bunch of links to the Scottish tunes you can find here.

This time we’ll provide easy links to find lots of other styles of tunes.  When you look at the Past Workshops, you can also check out tunes based on the types and purpose of tunes, such as tunes to help you learn by ear, tunes to help learn ornamentation, a set of tunes teaching higher finger positions, and a group of tunes focused on syncopation.

Below are links for audio and info about learning Irish, Old-timey & other American trad tunes, jazz fiddle, Scandie, Quebecois, Cape Breton, and klezmer tunes!

Don’t forget that the guest workshops include a concert video as well.

Looking for Irish tunes?  Check out the following: Continue reading Links to Learning Tunes – part 2