Get clear on what makes you want to play fiddle.
Is it the creative outlet it offers? Do you simply love the sound of the instrument? Do you want to join a music community? Does a particular genre capture your heart? As you begin to learn how to fiddle, keep that motivation at the center of your learning process.
Get a fiddle.
If you already have an instrument, you’ve got this step done already! If you still need to purchase a fiddle, check out our custom line of instruments set up specially for fiddlers. We’ve got everything from solid starter instruments to refined, professional-quality electro-acoustic instruments. See the full line here.
Set aside daily practice time.
One of the most important things you need to do to succeed at learning to fiddle as an adult is to set aside a consistent window of practice time. It doesn’t have to be much—really, twenty minutes can get you amazing progress—but it does have to be as consistent as possible. Playing a little bit daily is far more effective than playing in longer inconsistent bursts.
Take out your calendar and for the first month of playing, manually block out practice time every day so that you don’t have to think twice about it. You can start with twenty minutes a day and add more if it fits for you.
Learn how to bow.
Bowing is at the heart of great fiddling. When you learn how to fiddle, you’ll first learn how to hold the bow and how to draw a bow stroke. These two things, while they take time to master, only take a few minutes to achieve for the first time. Once you’ve got the gist of it, you’ll be able to add nuance and learn more bowing patterns and techniques as you progress.
The important thing here is to take everything step by step. Don’t hesitate to take your time as you develop your bowing skills (our bite-sized technique videos are great for this kind of gradual progress). Fiddle School is designed to develop your bowing intuition bit by bit with every sequential tune you learn. When you start out, find a learning resource to help you learn correct bowing technique so that you can avoid developing bad habits.
Want more info on how you can learn to fiddle with Fiddle School? Click here.
Learn how to place your fingers on the fingerboard.
Many folks are intimidated by the idea that there are no frets on the fiddle, so let me put your mind at ease: when you begin fiddling, you’ll have thin tapes on the neck of your fiddle to mark when to place your fingers to create in-tune notes. No shooting in the dark!
As you learn to place your fingers, you’ll also learn how to position your left hand and how to hold the fiddle comfortably. All these skills will lead you to be able to produce beautiful, clear, and in-tune notes when you play. With consistent practice (remember, all you need is 20 minutes a day), you’ll find your muscle memory really kicks in and helps you feel more and more at ease on the instrument.
Woohoo! This is probably the most fun of all the steps so far. Once you know how to bow and create different notes with your fingers, the sky’s the limit for you. When you learn fiddle tunes, it really helps to work your way up from simple tunes and gradually build to more difficult tunes. Fiddle School’s curriculum automatically creates this structure for you so that you build the skills you need for each tune as you go.
From the get-go, you’ll learn rhythmic fiddle tunes that are pleasing to the ear and that you can take to jam sessions, square dances, performances, sing-alongs, fiddle contests, or whatever other context in which you might want to play them. You’ll even find you’re already familiar with many of the melodies you learn when you start fiddling, since many fiddle tunes are adaptations of classic old pop songs and favorites from the American Songbook.
Get out there and play!
Yes, that’s the next step. And the best news is, it doesn’t take years to get here. It can take as little as a month for you to get a couple tunes under your belt and take them for a spin at a slow jam session, family gathering, or musical get-together with a friend. Even before that, you can start meeting and connecting with other fiddlers (we make this easy with our online community platform in Fiddle School).
When you know how to play fiddle (even just a few tunes), it opens so many doors for you. The fiddle can introduce you to people you’d otherwise never meet, places you might never have gone, and a unique sense of community that’s not quite like anything else I’ve encountered. Pretty magical.
Fiddling is a journey, so once you’ve got some tunes and techniques under your belt, the fun never stops! There are so many ways to keep learning: private lessons, camps, online resources, group classes, and more. At Fiddle School, we’ve got tons of resources to support beginning fiddlers like you, including our Fiddle School memberships and our signature live course for beginners, Mastery 1. Want more info about how we can support you as a beginning fiddler? Send us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll happily answer any questions you have.