How much classical?

How much classical?

I was wandering if anyone had any thoughts on how much classical training for technique a fiddle player should take if they decided to study classical in order to improve their intonation and technique? I just started playing the fiddle and taking lessons at a local folk school last year. I started taking classical lessons 4 months ago because I felt I needed more help with intonation and technique. My playing has improved drastically and I enjoy listening to classical music but fiddle music is just much more fun to play. Could anyone who has studied from a classical instructor in order to improve their technique tell me how long they studied before heading back to fiddle music?

Re: How much classical?

Do both. Well, as much of each one as you like. If that makes any sense. Whatever seems to make your playing more enjoyable, for you and others. (Me, I did some kiddie violin, started fiddle later, then got some lessons in both, along the way. As the kids say, it’s all good.)

Re: How much classical?

Rick, good idea but I can afford lessons in one or the other, not both at the same time. I’m still working on fiddle tunes on my own while taking classical lessons but since I’m just starting out I really need an instructor in whatever I’m concentrating on.

Re: How much classical?

Alternate. A few lessons in one, then the other.

Re: How much classical?

When my classical teacher first introduced playing staccato I told him I was having trouble with it because the fiddle music I had been playing was so fluid and didn’t use abrupt stops. His answer was “classical is all about staccato”. I’m sure someone who has played for years can separate folk and classical technique but it’s confusing for someone who has played less than a year (I started the fiddle at 58). So it’s probably best for me to concentrate on classical and “get it out of the way”. I’m just wandering how much is enough.

Re: How much classical?

I think your violin teacher was kidding. In short, you do need fourth finger, but you do not need third position.

As an adult beginner, you should probably stick with the teacher you like best. The basics are the same for both.

Re: How much classical?

Speaking as a non-fiddle player who plays almost always with fiddle players, I’ll throw in my 2-cents from a listeners perspective. I can’t see any reason to not study at least some classical technique and that applies to any instrument, not just fiddle. Clear tone with good intonation has never hurt anything or anybody. I’d say that good technique can only improve what I consider to the most interesting and most beautiful music I have ever played. I don’t mean to sound brutish here, but whenever I hear someone say they don’t see the need to work on tone and technique I prepare myself to hear someone who has neither. As a listener I want to here a pure F#, not something F#-ish. I want to hear a full time value. Something close (you know the old phrase “aw, they’ll never hear the difference from the street on the back of a galloping horse”) just isn’t very satisfying. Anyone can approximate.

I don’t begrudge the hours I’ve spent on good flute tone. You may not know it from my playing, but without those hours spent my playing might have sent you running for the door! Still may but at least you’ll walk after making a polite excuse. Let me paraphrase what one frequent poster to the session responded to me a while ago “tone and technique is what every great musician practices first every day”. Same with my bass. I don’t just stab at something close. Tone and technique, tone and technique, tone and technique…then tunes. Right now I’m learning to play a trumpet. Guess what the first thing to master is?

Mike, I think you were right on the money when you said “my playing has improved drastically”. The how much question depends on how good you want to be. You don’t have to like, or even listen to, classical music to master good skills. Seems to me like you already know the answer to the question you asked.

By the way, Mike, I was your age when I first started playing flute. I’m 70 now. There’s still hope for us! Good luck.

Re: How much classical?

“Right now I’m learning to play a trumpet”

Ross,
Stick with it, the trumpet is a wonderful instrument. I played trumpet for years before taking up the fiddle.

Re: How much classical?

Jeez, Mike, you do like the difficult instruments, don’t you? 🙂

Re: How much classical?

Could have been worse. I could have played the pipes 🙂

Re: How much classical?

Yep. One attempt to wrestle the octopus was enough for me. A man’s got to know his limitations.

Re: How much classical?

Have you spoken to your violin teacher? If they are any good they ought to be able to tailor your lessons and teach you good technique using music you enjoy rather than sticking to a purely classical repertoire.

In the early stages good technique is the same regardless of what style you want to play eventually, and I guess you would be at least two years in before you are ready to do anything in ITM that you might not be taught in violin lessons.

Re: How much classical?

“and I guess you would be at least two years in before you are ready to do anything in ITM that you might not be taught in violin lessons.”

Thanks Mark. That’s the kind of information I was looking for.

Re: How much classical?

I think you will know yourself when you have had ‘enough’ classical lessons to improve your bowing technique, intonation and finger dexterity. Bravo for taking up the fiddle at 58. I ‘came back’ at sixty - had learned classical at school and given up. There is a lot of overlap and Alistair Fraser (for example) hates descriptions of people as ‘classically trained’ and prefers to talk about people learning techniques.

I do use third position in some Scottish tunes. Otherwise it’s pace & pulse that I need help with. My teacher teaches both classical (he’s a baroque specialist) and folk, specifically ITM and Playford. I have been with him four years, learning ITM all the time, but in my first year doing Klezmer, which was tremendously useful in helping me to play more loudly & expressively & giving me confidence. For three years I also played baroque, which is very useful if, like me, you want to learn tunes from ‘The Golden Age of Scottish Fiddle’, i.e. the eighteenth centuries, since the same fiddlers played & composed both baroque and Scottish traditional-style tunes. The arpeggio patterns of the tunes really trains your fingers for that.

But at the turn of this year, I made the decision to give up baroque and concentrate on traditional music - Scots, Irish and English. I didn’t have to change teachers, but I would have done…

The important question for me would be how good your teacher is. I went for a year to another classical teacher who got me through a low grade classical exam with a distinction and that did boost my confidence - but a lot of the bow work that we did was not really useful for traditional music.

If you like your teacher, then give the classical at least a year and then review it.

Good luck - I have read your profile and like you, I figure I have/had about 20 years, but the main thing is, I just love the music and love fiddling. It makes me perfectly happy. 🙂

Re: How much classical?

Technique is all good - it’s just that, at a more advanced level, classical technique becomes less useful for playing trad and vice versa. The most important thing is that, no matter what form of tuition you receive, you stay connected with the kind of music you want to play. Presumably, if you took up the fiddle at 58, you must already have had an appreciation of and some familiarity with traditional music; it is important to keep in mind that a classical teacher can teach you technique but *you* probably know more about the music than they do. You probably have a good idea of what you want your playing to sound like, but it won’t necessarily be obvious to you how to apply the technique to achieve that sound. This, I think, is where having some additional tuition from a traditional fiddler early on would be useful - even if only once every few months.

“….you would be at least two years in before you are ready to do anything in ITM that you might not be taught in violin lessons…”

BTW I thought I was brave taking up the fiddle at 30 😉

I don’t entirely agree with this. Firstly, it depends how quickly you learn (and a large part of this is down to how much time and effort you are able and willing to devote). Secondly, as I have alluded to above, if you are serious about traditional music, then it is very beneficial to get a traditional fiddler’s perspective as early as possible. For example, as soon as you have a handle on the distinction between single bowing and slurring, it is good to learn some basic tunes with bowings - and it is far better to take your examples from someone that knows about traditional fiddling.

Re: How much classical?

…My BTW remark was meant to come at the end. It’s the passage in quotes that I don’t entirely agree with.

Re: How much classical?

I completely agree with the Big Natural Creature, about classical versus Irish trad bowing. Learning to slur across strings was an epiphany for me. People commented on what a difference it made in my playing–one violinist-turning-fiddler called it “asymmetrical” bowing.

It’s a bit troubling, though, that you saw such improvement in some areas after violin lessons. Maybe you just need to tell your fiddle teacher to get tougher on you, regarding intonation and such.

Re: How much classical?

I once entertained a nagging worry that all those youngsters (very generally) who’ve had long and quite serious training in Classical violin and then thrown themselves into trad fiddle might one day want to go back to Classical, and find that their ability to play it again to a high standard has been irrevocably impaired.

I voiced this to a friend with a long career experience of playing Classical violin in orchestras, etc., and of teaching it. Her response was bright and encouraging, to the effect of: “No, they’ll be perfectly okay!” I should add, though not a sessioner she was pretty familiar with traditional music.

(By ‘high standard’ I didn’t/don’t mean stellar, just plenty good enough.)

Re: How much classical?

Wow! You hit a hot topic!
One of the best indicators of a teacher’s ability is to hear a couple of live performances by that musician. Even if a teacher is a poor verbal communicator, she can still demonstrate things for you. But if he cannot really play that well, he cannot demonstrate something he does not viscerally know.

Technique just means how you do the things you do. There are a few folk music techniques not used in classical/orchestral music. There are many classical techniques unused in folk music. That said, there are POOR techniques which can physically HURT YOU. Beware! Tendonitis, carpal tunnel, bulging cervical disks, and shoulder maladies are all VERY real issues for violin players.
The most important thing is to find a teacher who will help you steer clear of using techniques that will cause you physical harm. Overlook this at your own peril.

I suggest listening to at least 2 performances each by a couple of players. Then approach each for an introductory lesson. And bring along recordings of music that appeals to you. Don’t assume a person knows , or does not know something(many people in the classical world were astonished that I could play Irish and gypsy music).
Now, make sure you are wearing decent running shoes for this next part: Ask each teacher what aches and pains they deal with. If they say “None”, then run like a banshee is after you !!! (see paragraph above).

A person making a living in music has to do things that generate income. For me, I received a paycheck for 17 years for playing mainly classical music with a symphony orchestra. I played way more symphony concerts than I cared to, but you know what? It put a weekly paycheck in my bank account. I played folk music for my own enjoyment. And nothing enriches my life more than Irish music. Isn’t that one of the main functions of music? To enrich our lives?

So - it’s a search process. Go out and start listening to people play. You will figure who is the right teacher for you.

Re: How much classical?

My fiddle teacher was a contest fiddler and had won state championships in fiddle and mandolin (bluegrass and old timey) so his ability was’nt a problem.

Re: How much classical?

I think you have to be very careful in choosing a fiddle teacher. Not all good good musicians are good teachers. Many good fiddlers have built up their technique over the years without ever really thinking about how they do it, so their teaching consists of something like ‘This is the sound you need to make, now go away and practice until you find a way of making that sound’. Whereas violin teachers generally work to a tried and tested pedagogy, and will be able to tell you exactly what you need to do with your hands to make that sound. The end result is the same, but you’ll get there much quicker with someone who is trained as a teacher, not just a good musician.

Re: How much classical?

Well, I was going to post here, but Mark M has done it for me!

Thank you, Mark 🙂

Re: How much classical?

Mark, I think this is exactly what I have been thinking but I hesitated to say it since I have so much respect for my former fiddle teacher, both as a musician and as a person. There are many good musicians who can teach some and there are quite a few good teachers who can play an instrument to an extent. But the great musician who is also a great teacher is very rare.

Re: How much classical?

Very good discussion. Not the kind of “us versus them” arguments. So far no-one has mentioned discipline in the discussion. I think that studied practice with a particular goal in mind (as in “ 5 minutes A minor scale by thirds , slow with perfect intonation“, or “this two bar phrase with ornamentation”), in other words, discipline, is the most important thing I ever got from a teacher, well, actually 2. One was very classical, the other deep in the folk tradition. That I think, at least much as the content of the lesson, is important in choosing a teacher.
That’s my notion, what do you think about the role of discipline and the role of a teacher?

Re: How much classical?

I think discipline is very important. Even if someone is starting late in life, I think it’s important to get a good grip of the basics. There are some good teachers, both ‘violinists’ and ‘fiddlers’.

On discipline, some of the very basic left-hand exercises are quite important. I’ve had students who have skipped this altogether, and become pattern-locked into a particular style - even though they can play jigs and reels quite fluently, some cannot play a simple straight phrase without cutting and twiddling or otherwise ornamenting. Pattern-busting is then needed.

Same with the simple tune in G, where you need to play a high C nat followed by a lower F# - they are hopping from one string to the other, using the same finger for both notes.

Or, trying to play (on the E string), a B-C-B with the same finger, resulting in whining, simply because basic navigation training has been skipped.

Any good fiddle teacher ought to be aware of some very basic position training, so there’s no struggling with (eg) Golden Eagle hornpipe, or The Cuckoo, or anything else that has a note above B on the E string.

Re: How much classical?

Trumpet is not a difficult instrument. You just put your lips together and blow…

Re: Howmuchclassicalvs.howmuch trad…?

Don’t forget jazz.

“You just put your lips together and blow…”

Yes, except before you pointed this out, Mr. Brown, it was the best kept secret of wind players everywhere.
[not flute; just brass & reed]. Though the good players also know how to scat - > - - >>

Aretha Franklin & Clark Terry
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T4_DUKgwwjI&t=5m03s

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Re: How much classical?

What a wonderful thread. Where have you all been? lol Thank you all for posting about the great benefit for some kind of basic technique to sound good and keep yourself from injury.

Nicholas, if I read that right, your friend the symphony player never did the actual switch back and forth herself? I would perhaps add to her “yes no problem” answer that they’d need to keep the techniques not needed in ITM in practice (and she may have said that anyway) as some of that will be a use it - or partially lose it thing. And to remember to NOT change the written in bowings in their orchestra music at whim. ;) And ornaments that have become second nature to do in ITM - the poor (non ITM) stand partner would be looking at them like they were smoking something. (And probably wanting what they had!) Heh.

Re: How much classical?

If you want the best of both worlds, I would look into someone like Daryl Angor with Artistworks.com. It is only $30.00 a month, and you can access as many lessons as you want, from beginner to advanced. He is a professor at Berkley College of Music. He is funny, and wonderful at giving good critique of your uploaded video lessons which you can get pointers of any type of music you are playing. He is positive, yet also honest about what you need to work on and is very good about being able to analyze what you are doing and how to improve it. It is a “dreaded bluegrass” site, but he has students that play Texas old time fiddle contest, and I’ve seen original improv questions. He stresses he will help you in whatever you are interested in. He is amazing in all genres and taught at various fiddle camps. World class fiddler. He has lessons on bowing rhythms, which you don’t get in classical. In classical all the bowings are mapped out for you. Where as in fiddle music, it is fast and you need to make split second decisions with your bow that work for you and that you are comfortable in executing. The bow is the key. He tells you how to make it feel dancy, and get the lilt going. He also stresses playing by ear and the lessons are geared in that direction. There are mostly no golf clubs except maybe in some of the very beginner lessons. If he notices you are out of tune on certain notes, he will make you aware of it so that you can correct that. He will also tell you whether you could work on it some more and submit a second video on the same material. As far as cost goes, it might help you have the best of both worlds, since classical teachers are extremely expensive, and don’t give you the well-rounded instruction in the genre you are most interested in.
Just my opinion, as someone who has done both.

Re: How much classical?

And I have one of Daryl’s CDs that have irish music, gypsy music, blues, bluegrass, psychograss, jazz. He does it all with amazing ability.

Re: How much classical?

I second the Darol Anger recommendation. Amazing musician and teacher!

Re: How much classical?

‘Very good discussion. Not the kind of “us versus them” arguments.’

What’s going on? My popcorn’s gone all cold and….

Actually I am delighted to see what could have been a contentious and divisive topic discussed in a civilised and reasonable manner.

My two cents worth? I can add nothing to this discussion that hasn’t already been said.

Re: How much classical?

All this is very encouraging and helpful, but, but, what I worry about is developing an authentic ITM sound, and not sounding like a classical violinist playing ITM.

I did kiddie violin at school and came to ITM fiddle having improved my technique with adult classical viola lessons for a few years at the age of 40. There came a point where I felt the classical technique, having been helping, was now starting to hinder my development in ITM on the fiddle so I stopped lessons and carried on with fiddle. I had to unlearn an awful lot of rigidity of following notated music, including bowings, but generally I had better mastery of the instrument.

On this site there has been a lot of criticism in the past of classicists playing ITM “nicely” but not as a person trained in ITM from childhood would do, and I dread sounding like that but not realising it! There seem to be so many subtle traps about where not to ornament, where to slur & where not to. So my question would be - is it really possible for a classically trained - or at least classically started - person to play ITM authentically?

Re: How much classical?

[*So my question would be - is it really possible for a classically trained - or at least classically started - person to play ITM authentically?*]

Of course it’s possible. From the viewpoint of technique / ability required to play ITM, it’s not difficult at all if you are already a competent player on your instrument. Why should it be difficult?

But, it takes an understanding of the music, and that does take a bit of time and involvement with warm-bodied ITM players to really get it ‘in the blood’.

Same with playing any genre of music.

It’s all been said before 🙂

Re: How much classical?

Here’s how I did it: My four-year-old daughter (about 30 years ago) decided she wanted to learn violin. We found a teacher, sort of modified Suzuki style. And although I wasn’t much interested in fiddle at the time, I decided to rent a violin to play along with her. It was more for the togetherness and to keep her motivated.

So we did things like “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” and lots of exercises. And the teacher gave us firm grounding in how to hold the fiddle and bow, fundamental bow mechanics (perpendicular to the strings, proper pressure, etc.) and most of all, got us disciplined with intonation.

At the time, I played mostly finger style guitar and pennywhistle, and loved listening to ITM. I wanted something more fun to do with the fiddle, so I got a copy of _The Fiddler’s Fakebook_. And for years, we’d plow through classical exercises, and work hard to learn pieces by Mozart or Vivaldi - then finish up by playing Irish or Appalachian tunes just for fun. Unlike a lot of classical students, we both had the sound and style of the tunes in our head, from lots of listening.

It worked. When she was an adult, I arranged for my daughter to get some lessons from Kevin Burke. Beforehand, he’d heard that she had classical training; but in the first lesson, he told her that to his surprise, her bowing was fine. She didn’t need to un-learn the classical bowing, as do so many violinists. So we managed to get decent bowing style just by ear. (I’ve had some Irish fiddle lessons since, and while I’m far from world-class, no teacher has ever complained about my bowing.)

And importantly, I think our intonation is pretty decent. I suspect that without the classical discipline, our intonation wouldn’t be nearly as good.

How much classical did it take? Well, we had lessons for at least 12 years, but regarding intonation, it wasn’t the years; it was the discipline. I think our teacher’s tips (left hand position, finger positions relative to each other, etc.) helped a lot; but more important was the attitude that intonation is something to keep working on. And I still do, diligently.

Re: How much classical?

What Jim said. Any style takes time getting into.

Whatever instrument we’re playing, we’re influenced and affected by the stuff we’ve played and listened to. You can’t ask a random ITM player to play something else convincingly either (classical or not). I couldn’t fool anyone that I can play traditional Swedish music, ragtime, klezmer, bluegrass, old-time, classical music etc. although I know hundreds of tunes from other traditions than ITM.

I don’t care a bit if the people in front of me have played something else before (and if so, what), as long as they are convincing at what they do now.

Re: How much classical?

I agree, Daryl Anger is terrific. And yes anyone can learn what they have a determination to learn! TY Jim and Jeff.

It’s work though. No getting around it. As Marie wrote “…In classical all the bowings are mapped out for you. Where as in fiddle music, it is fast and you need to make split second decisions with your bow that work for you and that you are comfortable in executing. “

Classical music bowings. Heh. Playing solo/duet - anything other than orchestral, you can map out almost what you want. But it’s all in practice and during rehearsals, and even THAT freedom is restricted. Then you pretty well stick with what you wrote in, for performance. In an orchestra, it’s a section leader’s and/or conductor’s decision, for good reasons.

I think one of many aha moments that classical players go through, is after taking the plunge into ITM, then playing an orchestra gig again. Especially if you’ve been away from it for a while. It can be both a nice “coming home” and newly frustrating. A local player friend of mine said recently that in a rehearsal, it was really hard knowing that some bowings given were not good for particular phrases, yet not being able to change them or argue the point! He’s a busy performer in ITM, jazz etc and gets the dance/lift thing beautifully. Occasionally he does a symphony type gig. Very different venues indeed.

Re: How much classical?

Mike -
A couple of points.
I don’t think that classical training will hurt you in general, but be aware of a few things. Make sure you learn to play be ear - don’t rely too heavily on the printed page for your music. There’s a lot in music, in ITM, that comes through the ear; to play it well you have to be able to hear it with all its subtlety, and reading from the page can get in the way of that.

If you’re wanting to learn ITM, find an ITM teacher. Darol Anger is a fine fiddler, but I’d recommend interviewing a few other Skype teachers, like Tony DeMarco or James Kelly. Check out their playing - a good idea for any prospective teacher. In fact, a good starting question to any of these folks might be the one you posted here. It would be interesting to hear what they’d say.

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Re: How much classical?

frkrygow… your whole post…I’d be clapping if you could hear me. 🙂

Re: How much classical?

Seems to me that what classical teaching can give you - if its really good classical teaching - is the most natural technique possible . By ’ Technique ’ I would mean a totally comfortable , fluent hold and basic note-making . Most especially the bow hand . This is a physical training , and it can take quite a while to get that comfortable with your fiddle - depends how much you play and how natural you find it .
Also , the sooner you get a great bow hold the better , not to have to change things later . Which is a real pain and a waste of time .
But then you use this comfortable technique in any way you like - great to learn tunes in whatever style you’re after , right from the start . In fact it sounds like the best idea possible . Its just that getting a sound technique too , right from the start , will speed things up .
As for special bowings , for ITM , baroque , classical , whatever - I think the more the merrier ; and that they’re all possible with a sound basic fiddle technique .

Re: How much classical?

Ah , better to say , all these special bowing styles are possible with a good technique - in theory ! In practice there’s never going to be enough time to get properly involved with more than one or two ..

Re: How much classical?

Rick May wrote “Do both. Well, as much of each one as you like”. I think that’s what I’ll wind up doing. Continuing my classical lessons with a teacher and adding online fiddle lessons with Doyle Anger. Thanks.

Re: How much classical?

One of my favourite Irish traditional fiddlers was classically trained – Sean Keane – and it didn’t do him any harm. I think you can hear some of his classical technique in his playing, though ultimately it’s impossible to say whether he’d have played like that if he’d never received that technique.

Interesting quote I read in this discussion above:

“When my classical teacher first introduced playing staccato I told him I was having trouble with it because the fiddle music I had been playing was so fluid and didn’t use abrupt stops. His answer was “classical is all about staccato”.

1. Classical music is most certainly not “all about staccato”! It’s about many, many different techniques and to say it’s “all about” one particular technique or one particular aesthetic is nonsense.
2. I often wonder about this “fluidity” in Irish fiddle music: I do sometimes think that it is a shame that Irish fiddle technique has been standardised to such an extent that it is not permitted staccato-ish aspects that other Irish trad instruments – whistle, flute or even pipes – are all allowed.

Re: How much classical?

<Seems to me that what classical teaching can give you - if its really good classical teaching - is the most natural technique possible . By ’ Technique ’ I would mean a totally comfortable , fluent hold and basic note-making . Most especially the bow hand . This is a physical training , and it can take quite a while to get that comfortable with your fiddle - depends how much you play and how natural you find it .>

Nicely said Judith!

<Classical music is most certainly not “all about staccato”! It’s about many, many different techniques and to say it’s “all about” one particular technique or one particular aesthetic is nonsense.>

You too Matt. 🙂

Re: How much classical?

“Classical music is most certainly not “all about staccato.” “

I think he was “halfway” joking. At the moment we were going thru the end of Suzuki book 1 and just finishing up Essential Strings Vol 1 and both have pieces that use a lot of staccato and include sections that concentrate on staccato at that point in the books.

Re: How much classical?

You are right of course Mike. I thought he must have meant it in some context. 🙂 I have heard it stated though, that developing a really good marcato arm is the foundation for all other good bowings. I agree somewhat, as being able to control where you start and stop, the speed, pressure, parallel lines and so on is pretty much covered in that bowing. Even the long slow fluid bow strokes are made more efficient. It’s getting all those stubborn muscle fibers to do what you want, when you want. Great for any style of music.

But as you all have said, you really have to grow up around or eventually be thoroughly immersed in ITM to sound like it. And someone VERY classically trained has to literally take all the years of solid technique and use it so that it supports playing ITM and does not stand in the way of it. It’s quite the paradigm shift.

Re: How much classical?

Can you imagine staccato on a fiddle, when playing a reel? It would be truly bizarre 🙂

Re: How much classical?

But isn’t one of the strengths of fiddle playing that some of the things we play are bizarre instead of just following what’s on the page like classical? 🙂

Re: How much classical?

Yes, I think you’re right. There are some bizarre bits of fiddling around, for sure 🙂

Come to think of it, Jerusalem Ridge, whilst not an Irish tune, has the structure of a common reel in the first part.

The second part, starting E-A-A-A, has staccato on the 3 A notes. Slow-ish, but still staccato. All in stop/start mode, bow remaining on the string.

Re: How much classical?

I have actually been playing the same amount of time as you and have been receiving both classical and trad lessons. In the very beginning both disciplines complimented one another magnificently and classical undoubtedly helped me be a more disciplined learner because the lessons are one to one; teacher is able to point things out that you don’t get in session learning. However, I am finding that classical training is becoming increasingly obsolete – I think I am picking the fiddle up pretty quickly (well for four months playing anyway haha), however, ornamentations, most notably rolls, are being introduced in trad training and I’m not sure how much a classical teacher will be able to help me with those… Anyway, how about taking traditional lessons weekly and classical fortnightly or even monthly? I think this will help you progress quicker.

Re: How much classical?

<The second part, starting E-A-A-A, has staccato on the 3 A notes. Slow-ish, but still staccato. All in stop/start mode, bow remaining on the string.>

Maybe more Portato-ish? That’s potato with an “r” . :D

I had an adult student, a good mando player who was learning fiddle and loved this tune! (I do too.) And when I taught him the 3 A’s in a bow he thought it was so much fun to learn it. Good arm/wrist exercise actually. ;)

I’ve seen many fiddlers who just do 3 separate there and I always feel like… hey, do the COOL bowing!

Re: How much classical?

I agree! Potato bowing is new staccato !

Yep, definitely A-A-A in one bow 🙂

Re: How much classical?

In my experience, both Irish and classical training compliment each other almost completely. To give you a idea of my background, I have held principal positions, played concertos, done gigs, won scholarships, so I have very high level classical training. What I find as I grow in both classical and Irish traditions is that the physical and mental dexterity obtained from classical training always transfers to fiddling, even if there is not a direct “this is useful here” link. For instance, playing frequently in positions up to 10th and beyond appears to be completely useless in the trad world. However, when forced to use them regularly, you learn to maintain a very loose, free, and controlled hand/arm/elbow/shoulder position (and some other more subtle stuff). Advanced bow techniques (that you may not ever use in trad) also reinforce correct (and safe!) bow arm/hand use, make you considerably more agile, as well as allow you to pull a more robust tone out of your fiddle than beginning or intermediate training can offer.

The same works the other direction, though. A few months ago, I surprised my instructor because there was a very fast turn in a concerto I was working on. She said that most people struggle with executing it, but because of my experience with similar finger patterns in trad, I did it effortlessly from the beginning. Another example is playing long and fast runs/arpeggios. The speed (although not always breakneck), relentlessness, and ornamentation of Irish trad requires you to have a very natural and fluid left hand all the time, or else you will sound tense and get tired quickly. All fiddlers/violinists struggle with this at some point or another, but I find that classical violinists who also play trad pick up a much more fluid and natural left hand considerably faster than those only trained in classical music.

I say get as much classical training as you are willing! The skills you pick up will compliment your fiddling in ways you probably wouldn’t expect.

Re: How much classical?

Just a followup. So it’s been about a month since my last post on this topic. I’ve decided to keep taking classical lessons from my violin teacher and I’ve added video lessons from Darol Anger. I’ll keep taking the classical lessons for at least 1 year (probably 2). I like Darol’s video lessons and am learning alot from them and my classical teacher makes any needed corrections (on my part) to technique. He is also very open to music besides classical and after a few months lets his students choose between continuing with the Suzuki books or picking their own music (if he approves it) while continuing in the Essential Strings books. I’m working on Ashoken Farewell at the moment. This should give me a good basis to build ITM and Scottish in the future.

Re: How much classical?

Whatever you’re learning from Darol Anger. just bear in mind that it’s not Irish fiddling.

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Re: How much classical?

I know, but it’s fiddling. I love Irish fiddling. But the point (for me at least) is to learn to play well and then concentrate on what I want to play with well. If it’s Irish Traditional then that’s great. If it’s Bluegrass or Jazz or Scottish or whatever then as long as the music makes me happy then it’s worth playing (again, at least in my opinion).

Re: How much classical?

“as long as the music makes me happy then it’s worth playing”

And this is the only thing that counts.

Re: How much classical?

“I know, but it’s fiddling. I love Irish fiddling. But the point (for me at least) is to learn to play well and then concentrate on what I want to play with well. If it’s Irish Traditional then that’s great. If it’s Bluegrass or Jazz or Scottish or whatever then as long as the music makes me happy then it’s worth playing (again, at least in my opinion).”

Sounds good, Mike - good luck.

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