Learn to play the fiddle by Philip John Berhoud
Can anyone recommend or otherwise this book for a beginner?
Can anyone recommend or otherwise this book for a beginner?
Does it come with a teacher attached?
I’d recommend the Matt Cranitch book above all others:
I don’t have experience with this particular book, but it looks decent from the "Look Inside" on Amazon. The Matt Cranitch Book is pretty popular too, as well as Peter Cooper’s ‘The Complete Irish Fiddle Player.’ But in general I think learning from a book is a sad, distant runner-up to learning from a knowledgeable teacher. It’s not impossible to learn on your own from a book, just more difficult.
I wonder what you mean by ‘beginner’?
Do you already play violin/fiddle but just beginning to play in a traditional Irish style?
Then the book would probably be ok to get you started.
Or do you have experience playing an instrument like guitar or banjo but are a beginner at the fiddle?
The book may be able to help.
Or are you already familiar with traditional Irish dance tunes but are just beginning to play an instrument?
Probably not the best beginner’s book.
Do you read music or just beginning to?
You need to read music to get much out of the book.
Have you never played an instrument before, and haven’t heard much trad Irish but think it would be a lot of fun and want to start the journey? (It is lots of fun, btw)
Probably not the best way to go if you’re at square one.
Best of luck to you, whatever you decide. In the end it doesn’t matter as much how you start — just that you start!
Oh boy, once more into the breach! Don’t get me wrong, I like books (mostly of the "how to play Irish flute" variety) and have several. None of them, really none of them did me any good at all, with "at all" the operative phrase here, did me any good until I got an instructor. Then and only then was I able to process and apply some of what was written. Other recent threads have centered on the same issue so I’ll be brief. Get a teacher. much to all of what you’ll teach from books will be wrong or mis-applied. From the heart I say don’t burn time and effort. Get a teacher.
I already play, modestly for sure, but do play, mandolin and banjo. I thought I could easily adapt those skills to fiddle. Epic fail! My fiddle sits alone in the corner. When I was learning to play flute I used up a lot of effort until I finally put aside my ego and learned how to do it right (note: it’s a work in progress). Real-live face-to-face is best. Skype/face-time are viable options. OAIM is helpful, but can’t offer immediate feedback. A really good option is to attend as many workshops and music camps as you can. You often, not always but often, get great instruction especially if you willing to fully participate and the instructor isn’t just throwing out a few tunes. An added bonus is that by exposing yourself to a wide variety of instructors you get a wide variety of approaches to making this music work. Good teachers put what you might glean from books, and DVD’s into perspective in ways you just can’t do by yourself.
I can’t speak to which fiddle book is best. Heck, if it’s in your budget buy them all. To get some real value from them, get a teacher. Oh, and I agree with Joe, start!
I’m with Ergo in recommending Matt Cranitch. I don’t think you could do better.
Many thanks to all for your replies and suggestions.
Yes I do read music, play the banjo, tenor guitar, mandolin and OM. I do find tutor books a great source of information and inspiration. The best probably being Enda Scahill - banjo. But they do have their limitations.
The fiddle though is a challenge!!
I totally agree about going to a teacher but they are a bit thin on the ground in the NW UK. Just to get stared I went for one lesson with a violin teacher. A classical violin teacher. Orchestras and all that. It was vitally important. She was incredibly patient! As I am in my 60s I was never going to be her most successful student and Paganini is not really my thing.
But I may go back one day and give her a rendition of Maggie in the Woods!
I own the Berthoud book, the version that came with two CD’s. The purpose of this book is very different than the Cranitch book, which I also have. The Berthoud book teaches fiddle to an absolute beginner using the Irish fiddle tunes as the basis. It assumes the reader has no experience playing the fiddle and can’t read music. I began with this book when I was in my late 50’s having no fiddle experience and was very pleased with the progress I made using the book without a teacher. Get this book first and once you are up to playing "britches full of stitches" you can add in the tunes from the Cranitch book.
"I totally agree about going to a teacher but they are a bit thin on the ground in the NW UK."
If the map in your profile is anything to go by, then ‘NW UK’ means Lancashire, not Ullapool or Derry. I don’t really know the Trad scene in NW England, but I’d be surprised if there weren’t a few good teachers in the Manchester area, if not Liverpool or Lancaster.
You can teach yourself, but its the hard way. It helps if you have a music background. I already had left hand motor skills from playing Flamenco guitar. I started the fiddle in situation were tuition was impossible. I had to work from books, but I read anything I could get my hands on that described violin technique and violins in general. I also had a backlog of questions ready for when I crossed paths with a fiddler. In the early 1980s, musicians began putting out books with cassette tape recordings. That was a huge improvement. The CD format, youtube, and digital methods to slow down recordings all have made teaching one’s self far more practical. I have learned a lot of bare bones music from books and have come to the conclusion that you do not need to feel you must stick with one book to the end. If you get one thing out of any book, it was worth the trouble.
I recommend going along to a session, find the oldest, bestest fiddle player you can find and politely ask them if they’d give you a few pointers, and be willing to pay for their time if they agree.
Failing that ask them if they could recommend anyone locally who teaches, they’re almost certain to.
I stress you want the "oldest" teacher you can find though. Young musicians in my experience are often brilliant performers and useless teachers.
It is very hard to learn violin from a book. That said, Cranitch is quite good, but you will only get part of what you need.
What I might suggest is that you locate a classical violinist, and get 1 year of lessons under your belt. That way you will learn good basic habits, and can take it from there. At least you will be approaching the instrument in the best way possible,