In this strange time where all focus is on health, you might appreciate an earlier article from this blog — Playing Music is Healing. Consider playing or learning to play music at home. In any case, listen to music, and dance! It lifts the spirits, and as mentioned in the article, actually has healing powers.
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
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
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
Improving your playing is rewarding in and of itself, but a big part of the reward is getting a chance to play with others. An earlier article talks all about hosting a session at your house, which is one great way to play with others, but here I’d like to encourage you to consider playing out in your community.
You don’t have to be at a professional level to play for people who would really appreciate your music, and it does wonderful things for your playing. Here a few thoughts on where to play, and how to get ready for it.
You’ll want to pull some music together with one or more friends. Keep in mind that multiple fiddles tend to average out in sound, so don’t worry about a few mistakes here and there, or about a few bad sounds. When you play with others, it averages out into a nice sound. The big goal is to play in time, so you can stay together, and so that listeners can tap their toes or sit back and enjoy a slower tune. They won’t care about a few bad notes! So pull together another fiddler or two (or more) and a backup person — guitar is the most portable. You could even host some sessions in order to find the right people to make a good mix, and a good mix is more about compatible people than it is about what level the players are. If you have fun playing together, the listeners will love it.
I will say right now that I know someone who is, frankly, a terrible fiddler, and yet he has ventured out and played at some community functions where people loved having him and asked him back with his small group.
You’d be surprised how many opportunities there can be for playing your music. Continue reading Play Out & About!
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!
A technician is someone who is driven to explore and master the familiar. An artist is one who is driven to explore and manage the unfamiliar.
Once an artist explores the unknown and corrals a piece of it into their work, it becomes familiar, and the artist becomes a technician seeking to master it.
Whether artist or technician or some combination of both (as most people are), everyone needs to learn the vocabulary of their art, the technique, in order to know the possibilities of expression within their field. The more vocabulary they have, the more they realize how much they have to say. Beginners too appreciate the possibilities of expression, even if they’re not ready to say very much yet. In fact, these possibilities are what generally make someone want to learn in the first place.
How do you feel when you see someone else perform something that’s amazing? If you’re more of an artist, chances are you’ll be inspired by the work of others, and sense new ways of approaching your own work. If you’re more of a technician, chances are you might feel challenged or disheartened by brilliant performances, because a technician’s first question tends to be “Can I do that?”
I know an artist who achieved a level of accomplishment that drew many students and apprentices to his studio. One of these learned so well that she produced work that confused people as to whether the teacher or she had made it. At first, this artist was annoyed that his student had taken on his techniques and not developed her own. But then, he realized that the reason he was annoyed was that he had become only a technician and forgotten to move ahead with his art. He needed to dig into the vein of his own creativity to explore new, unfamiliar territory, new ideas and techniques that he could develop and master. He actually felt grateful to that student for inadvertently alerting him to his own plateau, and he went on to produce a great deal of new and amazing work.
These definitions of artist and technician are not limited to any particular field. I think of Elon Musk, for example, as an artist driven to explore the unfamiliar, manage his ideas, and then master them with a blend of new and old techniques of design and manufacture. High-profile (and wealthy!) creators often delegate much of the technical part so they can move on to their next project.
However, the skills of the artist, Continue reading Artist and Technician
If you don’t like taking risks, this article is for you. Maybe you are shy and worried about embarrassment, or you are competitive and afraid to look like you don’t know what you are doing. Perhaps you are risk-averse professionally, as a lawyer or accountant, for example.
There’s good and bad news for you. First, the bad news: Learning and playing music is risky! Not only is it likely that you’ll make bad sounds, hit wrong notes, and forget something you thought you learned — all in front of other people — but these “mistakes” are the only pathway to learning an instrument.
Now here’s the good news: Playing music is a very low-stakes gamble. Hitting a wrong note or a bad sound is not life-threatening, nor (contrary to some people’s fears) will it wreck your reputation.
Too often, learners derail themselves, and slow down or even prevent learning, by taking out precious time to berate themselves or apologize for making a “mistake”. I put “mistake” in quotes because Continue reading Music is risky (but the stakes are low!)
Recently I added up what is going on in technology in many nooks and crannies of daily life for individuals, companies, governmental groups, and realized that www.fiddle-online.com may be just the kind of technology that’s going to be truly meaningful in the future.
- A concert streaming service couldn’t understand why musicians complained about getting contradictory and confusing information about their events. The company explained the system’s intended logic, but all appearances are that the programmers of their system simply didn’t have the end users in mind when they devised their logical procedures.
- A utility company has been accused of greed and scandal but one wonders if it had anything to do with their IT department. It turns out that while some were wildly overcharged, others were not charged at all due to a new system. Did the IT department get their side of the job done but skip a few steps crucial to customer service?
In the last article we talked about why putting tunes together into medleys is so important to fiddlers. Now let’s take a look at how to put medleys together. What types of tunes go together? Which keys are compatible? What if you want two tunes to go together but they break all the rules?
Which types of tunes go together?
For faster tunes it’s easiest to play two of the same type — jigs with jigs, reels with reels. Jigs and reels both have two beats per measure, so if you want to combine them, keep that beat at the same tempo, and listeners can continue tapping their feet or dancing to the same beat. It’s just that you’ll be playing 3 eighths per beat if a jig, and 4 per beat if a reel. If the new type of tune starts with a simple rhythm, it can be easier to make the transition. For example, if going from reel into a jig, a jig that starts with one or two dotted quarters can simplify the transition. If going from jig to reel, a reel with quarter notes or even a half note in the first measure can help you and listeners get a clear handle on the beats before you draw them into the reel.
Slower tunes are a little different.