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Best starting point for learning?
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xTIDx
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April 27, 2016 - 2:16 pm
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I know most of the basic notes on the violin and I'm using the string builder series to learn (I've just started book 2), but I'm not sure what to do with practice, should I find sheet music that I can play or just go over the scales?

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damfino
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I personally like learning by playing a song that I like. I feel more motivated that way. 

~ I'm not torturing cats... I'm learning to play violin! ~

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xTIDx
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damfino said
I personally like learning by playing a song that I like. I feel more motivated that way. 

Do you know any good songs for beginners to practice (other than things like twinkle twinkle little star)

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damfino
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I downloaded some simple songs from a few places:

Fiddlerman has his beginner sheet music here: http://fiddlerman.com/studies-.....iddlerman/
 
also The Online Piano and Violin Tutor (here is her beginner playlist)  
 
I just picked songs that I liked and tried them out. Some I just tried out a few times and never went back to (yet) and others I've stuck with.
 
And other than that, various searches on youtube (I like playing fiddle style, so I do a lot of searching for fiddle tutorials) and then the first book I went through was Essential Elements 1st book, and that gets you into playing simple songs pretty quick. Some (most?) I didn't care for, but learned them anyway because of what technique learning a particular song was teaching you, but I learned them and have never played any of those songs anymore, lol.
 
I think the first songs I started working on when I first got my violin were Twinkle, Nearer My God to Thee, The Hanging Tree, and He's a Pirate. I have since dropped off playing the latter two, but mean to go back and see how I do with them now, and use the first two as a measuring stick, see what I can do with them now compared to when I started out. Neither of them are exciting tunes, but are good learning tools.
 
It's definitely more fun to learn if you are playing a song you already know the sound of an enjoy hearing a lot.

~ I'm not torturing cats... I'm learning to play violin! ~

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xTIDx
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April 27, 2016 - 4:55 pm
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damfino said
I downloaded some simple songs from a few places:

Fiddlerman has his beginner sheet music here: http://fiddlerman.com/studies-.....iddlerman/
 
also The Online Piano and Violin Tutor (here is her beginner playlist)  
 
I just picked songs that I liked and tried them out. Some I just tried out a few times and never went back to (yet) and others I've stuck with.
 
And other than that, various searches on youtube (I like playing fiddle style, so I do a lot of searching for fiddle tutorials) and then the first book I went through was Essential Elements 1st book, and that gets you into playing simple songs pretty quick. Some (most?) I didn't care for, but learned them anyway because of what technique learning a particular song was teaching you, but I learned them and have never played any of those songs anymore, lol.
 
I think the first songs I started working on when I first got my violin were Twinkle, Nearer My God to Thee, The Hanging Tree, and He's a Pirate. I have since dropped off playing the latter two, but mean to go back and see how I do with them now, and use the first two as a measuring stick, see what I can do with them now compared to when I started out. Neither of them are exciting tunes, but are good learning tools.
 
It's definitely more fun to learn if you are playing a song you already know the sound of an enjoy hearing a lot.

Thank you pink-violin-girl

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BillyG
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April 27, 2016 - 5:45 pm
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Welcome to the family @xTIDx !

This suggestion may well be frowned upon by many - but - it really depends on your own musical background.   Many folks can "carry a tune in their head", even having never played an instrument - you know where I'm going with this - if you can do that (previous instrument / musical knowledge aside ) - pick a tune, even fragments of a tune if you can't recall it all, and play by ear.  (I can already hear yells of Noooooooo) But, really, it can be quite satisfying.  What that does is to decouple all-the-other-things-you-are-trying-to-do-at-the-same-time - reading from sheet, struggling at times, hesitations etc etc - this frees you up to explore "basic playing" without having to be prescriptively tied-down to learning sheet and following it to the letter (OK, for classical if that is your pleasure, it is very demanding.  If you're just "picking out a tune you knowin your head" - I say GO FOR IT... LOL no harm in that...

I happen to have a "musical background" albeit all self-taught (guitar, some piano), although the fiddle is (relatively) new to me.  So, I have a lot of music running around in my head.....   Once I was happy with a couple or three scales on fiddle ( the obvious ones - G, D, A and C is not that hard either LOL ) I found it real easy to pick a tune ( most of mine were of Scottish origin, not being from USA I never really knew much old-time or bluegrass ) and just "mess with it", playing by ear.

I appreciate this is not for everyone, but it is a thought.   The things that came easy to me as a beginner were simple tunes, slow airs etc, rather than jigs, reels, hornpipes and so on - they demand a lot more bowing-skills  - but - it gave me immense pleasure to be able to play real simple things like Loch Lomond, (My Love is Like) a Red Red Rose, Dark Island oh - and dozens of others ( many incomplete, but the satisfaction of extracting a recognisable tune from the Devil's Instrument makes it worth while.   LOL ! )  Now I'm more at home with the instrument, I'm off onto anything at all that comes to mind - pop, rock, blues, classical (all fragments of course and nothing I would "perform" live), that just help to make breaks in my practice sessions...

Just a thought from 2 years into playing...  it helped me on the road (and yes, I do use sheet when I need it - I wasn't suggesting it should be ignored , LOL)

Good luck, and best wishes with your journey !

BillyG

I seriously recommend not copying my mistakes.  

Please make your own, different mistakes, and help us all learn :-)

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Kahlya
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April 28, 2016 - 12:46 am
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I haven't actually started playing violin yet (mine arrives Tuesday), but I intend to practice the same way I did when I played piano. What I did with the piano was 1-2 scales first then either a warm-up exercise or something from the theory book, then follow that up with a song that I feel like learning because I like it. Usually I try to make sure I always have at least one theory/lesson book and one fun book (like Disney or Pop songs) on hand to play from.

At the moment, I have the first couple String Builders books and also The Big Book of Disney Songs and Easy Classical Violin Solos.

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Fidelestre
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April 28, 2016 - 6:57 am
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Hello @xTIDx ,

I like to start my practice session with scales and then play my learning pieces from my Suzuki book. And then I play pieces I want to play, which are usually Irish fiddle tunes. This way I get the scales and etude-like pieces I need to develop technique, plus the fun of playing something I really enjoy.

The Suzuki method actually has relatively few "etudes" - technique is learned mainly through actual pieces. I think many Suzuki teachers do assign etude books as well, once students get past the early stages.

I recommend a similar mix for anyone. Do your scales and play your method book or books, and then play for fun. Just look for simple versions of pieces you really like - or pick them out by ear if you are able to!

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xTIDx
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April 28, 2016 - 12:33 pm
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Fidelestre said
Hello @xTIDx ,

I like to start my practice session with scales and then play my learning pieces from my Suzuki book. And then I play pieces I want to play, which are usually Irish fiddle tunes. This way I get the scales and etude-like pieces I need to develop technique, plus the fun of playing something I really enjoy.

The Suzuki method actually has relatively few "etudes" - technique is learned mainly through actual pieces. I think many Suzuki teachers do assign etude books as well, once students get past the early stages.

I recommend a similar mix for anyone. Do your scales and play your method book or books, and then play for fun. Just look for simple versions of pieces you really like - or pick them out by ear if you are able to!

Know any Irish fiddle songs for beginners?
 

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BillyG
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Unless you already bow jigs and reels, I would perhaps avoid that (only because it is a learning "chore" rather than practice "fun").   You could look at http://fiddlerman.com/studies-.....iddlerman/ where amongst all the simple pieces are a few Irish tunes - Danny Boy, Raglan Road, and a couple of others....  (and both Londonderry Air and Raglan have video tutorials as well in the http://fiddlerman.com/tutorial.....tutorials/ section...

Raglan Road is particularly pleasing IMO.

I seriously recommend not copying my mistakes.  

Please make your own, different mistakes, and help us all learn :-)

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damfino
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April 28, 2016 - 1:12 pm
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Some simple ones, the first ones my teacher had me learn, were Irish Washerwoman, The Walls of Liscaroll and Old Joe's Jig. All have pretty easy finger patterns.

 

Edit to add that I agree with @BillyG ... Fiddle style playing does have some specific bowing patterns to learn which can throw in its own set of challenges. However, if you enjoy the style learning it all is a bit fun. 

~ I'm not torturing cats... I'm learning to play violin! ~

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djroger
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The first song I learned was Camptown Races.  My thought at the time, since I started playing well into my 30s, was that it was stupid and a kid's song.  But, everyone needs to start somewhere and it is really simple.

Speaking of Twinkle Little Star.........You can have some fun with that, too.  Change the quarter notes to shuffle bowing (eight followed by two sixteenths), throw in drones and double stops, jack up the speed to 120 bpm or faster.  You'll get some really confused looks if you start out playing the basic real slow and then break it out in a hoe-down!  I've done this in music stores just to mess with the sales people..gold_star

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BillyG
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djroger said
....
Speaking of Twinkle Little Star.........You can have some fun with that, too.  Change the quarter notes to shuffle bowing (eight followed by two sixteenths), throw in drones and double stops, jack up the speed to 120 bpm or faster.  You'll get some really confused looks if you start out playing the basic real slow and then break it out in a hoe-down!  I've done this in music stores just to mess with the sales people..gold_star

Wicked !!!!

I seriously recommend not copying my mistakes.  

Please make your own, different mistakes, and help us all learn :-)

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damfino
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djroger That would be pretty cool to be able to do 🙂 

~ I'm not torturing cats... I'm learning to play violin! ~

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djroger
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I actually pulled this stunt last weekend while at a swap meet.............  The swap meet was held in Wisconsin and is supposed to be automotive related, but people sell just abut everything.  Kinda like a 10,000 people yard sale.  I was walking back to our space and saw someone selling violins and guitars.  I stopped and was looking when the lady running the space asked me if I wanted to try one out......

Prelude to this is I'd already had a few beers, so was pretty much fearless!  While I am no where near adept at playing as I was 20+ years ago, I couldn't resist.......

I started out with twinkle very slow and a little "shaky", stopping half way through and told the gal I was a beginner and if she minded if I started over.  She looked annoyed, but said "OK".  I started out the first two notes slow and then went into killer mode with shuffles and double stops, but had to skip over the double E since my pinky doesn't work anymore.  It was by no means perfect, but I did get a round of applause from by-standers and the look on her face was priceless!

I didn't buy anything as the violins were pretty cheaply made China models, but did have a bit of fun.

Of course, did get the age-old question:  Can you play Devil Went Down to Georgia?  My answer---Used to............

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AnnyJ
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djroger sounds like you like to tease sales people! I love your story. It would be very interesting to hear Twinkle Twinkle played like that. smile

It's easy to play any musical instrument: all you have to do is touch the right key at the right time and the instrument will play itself. Johann S.Bach

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Fidelestre
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The easiest Irish fiddle tunes will depend in part on which method you're learning by, which determines which finger patterns and notes you learn first. If you're learning with Suzuki book 1, A major (key signature with 3 sharps) will be easiest as long as you stay on the two highest strings. D major (2 sharps) will also be accessible if you're willing to peek ahead just a bit and apply the same finger positions you learn on the A and E strings to the two middle strings (D and A). As a beginning Suzuki player, you would want to avoid notes like high G natural (two G's above middle C) because it requires a different finger pattern from the first finger pattern you learn.

Most Irish fiddle tunes are in G or D (or modal keys with key signatures that look like G or D). The G ones (one sharp) can be okay for early Suzuki players as long as they don't include that high G natural. For pieces in G, often times the first part of the tune is accessible but then the second part (the B part) goes higher and will use notes you don't know yet.

As for the bowing - it is indeed a challenge to learn to bow jigs and reels properly. My son's Irish fiddle teacher says that at the beginning you can just use a simple bowing pattern like alternating down bow and up bow as you do with the early Suzuki pieces. You can worry about more authentic bowing and other ornamentation later.

Here are a couple of easy fiddle tunes to get you started. Brian Boru's march is the first tune they did in my son's Irish music class for children. They used a version in B minor (sort of), which has two sharps like D major. They just used the A and B parts for the kids' class; you can ignore the C part for now if you don't want to deal with fingering the high B. The version at the following website is very similar to what the kids learned:

http://www.arcelts.com/bbot1/t73.htm

Because it is a march, you can play it at a much slower pace than a jig. There are lots of recordings you can listen to on youtube so you can hear what it sounds like. Some of the recordings may be in another key (like A minor) rather than the B minor of this setting.

Another good fiddle tune for beginners isn't an Irish tune, but it is still fun. Drunken Sailor is an old sea shanty, and I found it easiest played in the key of E Dorian (two sharps, like D major). I've attached a pdf here.

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Fidelestre
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Like djroger, I'll add a little plug for Twinkle. It's really not such a bad piece! The Suzuki book takes you through many rhythm variations of it, including fiddle shuffle one (slow quick-quick, or "run pony" or "down wiggle, up wiggle") that djroger mentioned.

If Twinkle was good enough for Mozart and Louis Armstrong to do variations of, then I should be able to have fun with it too!

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Fiddlerman
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Welcome to the forum xTIDx,

Look forward to seeing lot's of posts from you. There are plenty of resources available both online and via simple beginner books for your enjoyment. I hope you enjoy the start of your journey. It promises to be interesting 🙂

Fidelestre said
If Twinkle was good enough for Mozart and Louis Armstrong to do variations of, then I should be able to have fun with it too!

LOL, true

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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Fidelestre
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Here is a video of someone teaching Drunken Sailor, in the same key (E Dorian) that I mentioned above as being a good starting key for learning. Her version adds some ornaments like double stops, but her instruction should also help you learn a basic version like the one in the pdf from my earlier post. The video also mentions using 4th finger on the A string to finger high E, but you can just use the open E string instead.

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