Fiddle For Dummies
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Everyone who first decides to learn fiddle is highly motivated in the beginning. But how do you keep that spark alive to progress and build skill? It's easy to fall into certain traps and find yourself stuck in a common practice slump. The following list gives you some tips on practicing most effectively and will help you maximize your potential:

  • Keep your fiddle in plain sight. One small thing that can make a difference in how much you practice is to have your fiddle out in plain sight. Just seeing it throughout the day may make you want to pick it up and practice more often. Leave it out of the case as much as possible and put it in a room where you have lots of foot traffic.

  • Don't have a time requirement. It can be easy not to practice if you tell yourself you have to do it for a long period of time each day. Playing for five minutes is better than nothing, and doing this often can really add up!

  • Focus on quality practice instead of quantity. Practicing for many hours a week without concentrating is less beneficial than 15 to 20 minutes a day of focused, quality practice. Don't feel you have to practice for long hours each week — 15 to 30 minutes of quality practice every day goes a long way.

  • Put your progress into perspective. It's easy to look back at the previous week and get frustrated because you feel you haven't made enough progress. Try to think back six months or even a year ago. Can you do certain things you weren't able to do back then? This is how you should look at your progress, and not on a week-to-week — or even worse, day-to-day — basis.

  • Go to a music bookstore. You can find a lot of sheet music and music books in many bookstores. Also, search your area for "local music stores" and ask them about their selection of books. You may find something that looks really fun to play, which can add a spark to your fiddle playing. If you don't have a music bookstore near you, you can always search for books online.

  • Give yourself a break. Just like you take a vacation from work, it's totally fine to take a vacation from the fiddle. Don't let a busy schedule discourage you; there will be times when you won't be able to practice much.

  • Look at it like you're running a marathon. One way to look at playing the fiddle is to compare it to running a marathon. If you try to run too fast at first, you'll get tired and eventually quit. The same thing goes for the fiddle. It's easy to give too much effort at first and then not live up to the standard you set for yourself in the weeks and months to follow. Pace yourself; it takes time to develop skill.

  • Play for fun. Take time to play just for the fun of it. Lock yourself in a room, put all your stress on the shelf, and play some wonderful music on the fiddle. Go back to some old songs you haven't played in a while and see how beautiful you can make them sound.

  • Remember two steps forward, one step back. Understanding the two steps forward and one step back methodology can really help you. For every two good things you've done on the fiddle, there always seems to be one thing you can't quite get right. This is completely normal and unavoidable. As long as you continue to play tougher songs that require more technical aspects, you'll struggle at times!

  • Search online to get inspired. Go to the Internet and search for anything that might inspire you. It could be going to YouTube and searching for "cool fiddle licks" or checking out some fiddle performance videos of a favorite song. Sometimes, seeing one video inspires you to start practicing again.

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book author:

Michael Sanchez has played fiddle in many country music bands, as well as playing fiddle for the Medora Musical, a well-known and popular show held each year in North Dakota. He is CEO and creator of Violin Tutor Pro ( and is CEO of Superior Violins (

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