“When Should I…” (#1) — 7 Tips About Equipment

Here are some guidelines — When To take care of 7 aspects of your fiddle “equipment”. Keep in mind, though, that 90% of the music and sound you produce has to do with the player, not the equipment!

Are you wondering when to… Put on more rosin? Clean rosin off strings? Change strings? Rehair your bow? Look for a new shoulder rest? Look for a new bow? Look for a new violin?

When should I…

1 …put more rosin on

Short answer: when you’re not getting the sound you expect

A fairly good rule of thumb is to add rosin for ever hour or so of actual playing time. Don’t put too much on, though, just a bit of a rub at each end with maybe two passes, down and up, along the length of the hairs, more if you haven’t done it for a while. If you see a cloud of white puff up as you play, you’ve put way too much on! Whip your bow through the air a few times to get rid of the excess, but try not to bang it into anything or anybody as you do!

2 …clean rosin off the strings and fiddle

Short answer: every time you’re done playing

Take a lintless cloth and wipe the rosin off the strings and the violin. The buildup of rosin only chokes the quality of your sound, and if it piles up on the instrument it will deteriorate the finish. No need to use any cleaner on the strings, just rub the strings where you’ve played on them, until the annoying squealing (more annoying the longer you’ve waited to clean them!) stops and your cloth slides silently over the strings. Rubbing rosin off the violin can be done with the cloth too, but once in a while you can use a drop of polish/cleaner made for violins; just don’t get it on the strings too!

Continue reading “When Should I…” (#1) — 7 Tips About Equipment

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 2

In “Finding the Beat, Part 1” we talked about how to figure out where the beats are, how many are in a measure, by feel and on paper.  Here we’re going to take a look at something more at the heart of the music.  The beat is, as its name suggests, the heartbeat of the music.  It is what creates the voice, the timing, the meaning.  The notes are like letters in a line of text.  Because of the beat we can actually hear those letters as words, phrases, ideas.

Where exactly is the beat to be found?  Is it just a metronome chirp?  If not, where and what is it?

Like the heartbeat in a person, the beat in music is really a pulse, not a hit.  Our hearts don’t go “boom, boom, boom” like a metronome.  Hearts go “ba-boom, ba-boom, ba-boom,” like the pickups in music that lead into each beat.

Beats are not merely a mathematical calculation.  (Do not tell this to metronomes or to any MIDI audio files because it would destroy their world!)  What makes music human is that our timing is responsive, just like our heart.

Studies about the human heart have shown Continue reading Finding the Beat, part 2

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

Making Harmonies

In most jam sessions people play tunes together in unison, just for the joy of playing the tunes. Sometimes, for special moments, variety, or in performance, musicians like to add a touch of harmony to fill out the melody. Below are some tips on making harmonies, and at the end, I will give you an example of a harmony part I’ve written that incorporates many of these suggestions.

1. No need to play harmony notes everywhere. Sometimes the nicest effect is to surprise the listener with a nice harmony on a long note, an ending, or a high point of a tune. Very often harmonies are saved for the repeat of a tune, so that listeners get to hear what the tune sounds like before the decorations are added. You can use the ideas below to make a full harmony or just to add bits of harmony in key places. Continue reading Making Harmonies

Falling in Love <3

I admit it, I can think of several musicians that I have fallen in love with, though it’s not quite as you might imagine. More than just enjoying their music, I felt all the symptoms of being in love. It was thrilling to be near them when they were playing. I felt the warmth of their music long after hearing it. The odd part is, these particular people were pretty much just acquaintances or casual friends; we didn’t know much about each other outside of the music. Is there such a thing as falling in love with someone’s musical soul?

Has this happened to you? Not just liking a musician or a band or meaningful lyrics, but feeling deeply moved by what you hear? If not, keeping listening, it will come your way if you keep your ears, and your own musical soul, open!

I can only offer a few clues about this phenomenon. One of them comes from a moment that astonished me. Continue reading Falling in Love <3

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

 

Time for a Laugh!

This post was first published here almost 5 years ago, but the nice thing about jokes is that most of us hear them and forget them — this clever adaptation allows uslaughing-animals to enjoy them all over again the next time!  Here’s a nice list of all those music jokes you may have heard (or read) and forgotten!

Note:  There are no fiddle jokes here.  Is there a message in this?  Is the fiddle such an awesome intrument that it’s not funny?  Or do people already feel so sorry for us that they don’t need to take us down a notch?

OK, get ready.  No instrument is sacred here!  (Caution #1:  Do not read this while playing a wind instrument.)  (Caution #2: These are not all in good taste.)

The prodigy:  A boy said to his dad, “I want to be a musician when I grow up.”  His dad said, “Hold on there son, you can’t do both.”

Harmonica: What do you call a harmonica player’s accompanist?  Fido.

Viola:  The violist said to the violinist, “You know, we violists can play 64th notes.”  The violinist said, “Oh, yeah?  Let’s hear them.”  So the violist played him one.

Oboe:  What is a minor second?  Two oboes playing in unison.

Bagpipes:  Why do pipers always walk while they play?  To get away from the noise.  (It also makes them harder to hit.)

OH YES, LOTS MORE BELOW…
Continue reading Time for a Laugh!