As a wind instrument player - how to help a string instrument player with ITM?

As a wind instrument player - how to help a string instrument player with ITM?

Hi,
I am a flute player (and learning the pipes). However, I have never played fiddle.
This weekend I am going to meet with a violin player and a cello player, who both want
to learn to play Irish Trad. The violin/fiddle is already joining our small session from
time to time, but I think for now she doesn’t have much experience with ornamentation, "correct" groove and mostly plays from sheet music.

My plan is to practice one of the two sets Oh Sullivan’s Polka/ Britches over Stitches or
Blarney Pilgrim/ Jim Ward’s. I already sent them pdf of the basic version and youtube links
to the sets (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=upEilWXAJn4, https://youtu.be/yu3EO4TqWhM?t=58).


My plan is to try to teach them a tune by ear and play another one with sheet music afterwards.
Do you think I should try to tell them something about ornamentation, or solely concentrate on
the rhythm and maybe highlight that a jig shouldn’t use a lot of bow work or so and basic concept of cuts and taps, because they are probably quite similar to wind instruments?

I don’t want to give them wrong or too confusing information about ornaments and concentrate on having a fun and motivating practice session 🙂

Are there any big dos and don’t that I as a wind instrument player should be careful with?

Thanks for your help!

I also made a similar post on Chiff&Fipple.

Re: As a wind instrument player - how to help a string instrument player with ITM?

I am not a fiddle player either, but my gut reaction to this is that you should work on the rhythms first. Teach them the first tune by ear, and work on getting them to match your lilt and swing. If you’re playing slowly, then you may need to overemphasize the swing a bit, because it will smooth out a bit as it gets more up to speed. The one thing that will be difficult for you to help them with is slurring with the bow. For that, it might be best to work with them by using videos of fiddlers showing some bowing techniques. You might also consider getting a copy of Shannon Heaton’s "First 50" tune book and CD. It’s a collection of 50 easy, but sweet tunes, that are not the general "beginner tunes" that a lot of people learn (many of which are actually a bit harder to play well). That book actually has both breathing and bowing suggestions for the tunes as well…

You could get into ornaments with them, but maybe do that a few months down the line when they’re starting to feel the rhythms. And have a conversation with them about what the ornaments are for in Irish trad, which is somewhat different than their function in classical music.

Re: As a wind instrument player - how to help a string instrument player with ITM?

I’m a beginner to fiddle, so take this for what it is.

I think they’d be well served by focusing on the really getting to know melody and and expressing the rhythm of the tunes in their simplest form without ornamentation. I’ve heard and read so many times that overly focusing on ornamentation misses the point if you don’t really capture the tune.

This is very true for fiddle, which needs to act as a pulse and a drive. All the grace notes, slurs and rolls in the world won’t provide that if it’s not there.

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Re: As a wind instrument player - how to help a string instrument player with ITM?

Adding to what Reverend said - be sure to emphasize, especially if they are ever going to read from music, that they usually won’t just play one note per bow. The way the music is written down can give the wrong impression.

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Re: As a wind instrument player - how to help a string instrument player with ITM?

Get them to play the tune straight without ornaments at first.

Then, once they have mastered the basic melody, have them listen to a variety of competent players.

Then they should be able to improvise/twiddle as the tune and style moves them.

Re: As a wind instrument player - how to help a string instrument player with ITM?

Polkas are one of the hardest forms to get right, counterintuitive but true. Jigs also seem to be quite troublesome.
I would go for hornpipes or reels played slow with swing like a hornpipe .
But the key is to actually hear how it should be played…. so id get a few settings from pure drop players and let them follow the notes as they listen to the music without their instruments…..
For bowing download These 3 books . http://davidhlyth.co.uk/irish-fiddle-music/

So say the banshee , https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=qzpNKvRaM0k

Re: As a wind instrument player - how to help a string instrument player with ITM?

I am a fiddle player and - for sure - don’t even think about ornaments until you can play with a rhythmic feel for the music. And take away the sheet music.

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Re: As a wind instrument player - how to help a string instrument player with ITM?

Sliabh Luachra polkas are played with very sparse ornamentation but great drive and rhythm - Jackie Daly and the late Seamus Creagh are [were] the finest exponents of this style, listen and learn!
The melodies of O’Sullivan’s /Britches are pretty much devoid of ornaments anyway, so shouldn’t be much in the way of distraction.

Re: As a wind instrument player - how to help a string instrument player with ITM?

I would say, if there is any opportunity, take them to a dance. A session, IMNSHO, is the second-best. The dance makes the rhythms work, the sessions may be less so.