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Classical and Traditional Fiddle Training Differences ?
Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 (14 votes) 
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starise
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September 24, 2019 - 7:49 am
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Thanks Mimi for your take on this! There are a couple of fiddlers in my area who were also trained classically and like the ones you mention, yet I have never heard them play any classical music. A few are music teachers. Maybe the lines are smaller than I think here?

cid, I don't mind that the subject has drifted somewhat from the original intent of this thread. I think getting into side reasons for things people do is a good thing. For the record I'm not against older adult players at all. I am one too 🙂

I think we might need to agree to disagree on quitters. It's a real word for a real thing that some people do sometimes. I don't immediately jump to conclusions about why people do what they do because I think that's being judgmental. Whether to play or not to play or how long to play or what to play is always up to the person. Everything in life has a time to start and a time to stop. Everyone always justifies the reasons for stopping something they were doing. Those reasons always make sense to them at the time. Eventually Hillary Haughn will stop playing, likely because she can't play any more. I couldn't ever see her quitting though. I've seen both. I can't waffle on the fact that quitting happens. Not in my DNA 🙂

Quitter- a person who gives up easily or does not have the courage or determination to finish a task.

Back to the thread subject though- Learning only fiddle techniques can be so rewarding. I mean, that's all I've been learning until recently. It's fun. Classical training can become a drudge if I don't break it up with other things. It would probably drive me insane if that's all I ever did. I'm still trying to condition myself to play more of that. Much of it is exercise oriented or tunes mainly exploited for technique reasons over melodic ones. Feel free to disagree with that. I'm sure there are many classical musicians who really love the music that teaches them the techniques in those Suzuki books. From what I've been exposed to so far, fiddlers mainly just learn the tunes. Not for any technique reasons. That isn't bad either per se.

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cid
September 24, 2019 - 8:58 am
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You know, I find that when I get out my fiddle book, “You Can Play Fiddle” or something like that, I find that I am relaxed more. I love the type of fiddle music Damfino plays and BillG play. Has a Celtic sound to it, or Scottish, which makes sense. I absolutely love it. In my lessons we are doing classical. I would like to drift into that in a couple years when I play better.

I can see where, in the classical there seems to be much more, “play as written”. It feels like when I do my fiddle I feel like I can do what feels right to me, as long as the beats per measure add up. Maybe that strictness and correctness is why, from what little I have seen, instructors use classical? Discipline, accuracy? Any thoughts? I don’t know that much about it.

I also find that I play my fiddle music much better on FiddleDeeDee, and the other much better on Rudoulf. I wanted to bring FiddleDeeDee to my lesson last week but the songs are classical and, even though light spirited, sound better and are easier to play on Rudoulf. I did state before that my hope was for this affect when I purchased rhe Fiddleman Concert Deluxe. My fiddle songs always sounded so sad on Rudoulf. Granted, most songs I play on my violin sound sad, but, that is not what I mean. That is because I am still very slow, and have not learned anything about how to do dynamics. It is the sound or tone of the violin, itself.

Is anyone here using a warm violin to learn or play fiddle music? Have you had the opportunity to play on a brighter violin? Did you notice any difference?

I might bring FiddleDeeDee next violin lesson, anyway. I really like her. Which brings another question to mind, just the opposite.

Does anyone take classical violin lessons or play classical on a bright violin? Do you feel the same mellow mood from it than there would be from a warmer violin, or is the classical music more upbeat? If you have access both, do you find it easier to play and learn classical on a warm violin and fiddle (I would say folk, too) on a bright violin? 

I know not all classical are moody pieces, but that is what I am talking about. Even the upbeat ones seem to require that mellow violin sound, to me because even an upbeat classical is not fiddle music.

Maybe it is me and my, sometimes annoying to me, reaction to sound and mood and tone of instruments. It really is very acute with me. 

They call me, “Mellow Cello” 

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Mimi Aysha
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September 24, 2019 - 1:46 pm
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Oh heck yes....

I changed strings from Helicores to Vision solos...my fiddle likes them, seems to have a clear, warm and gorgeous tone (when I hit the right notes!) 

classical tune - I need complete silence, clear sheet music, I practice each bar independently trying to get the bowing and speed right....then the feel of the piece, tempo etc...feels more concentrated and intense

fiddle tune - just whoop it out! practice a few times, get the flow, speed, play along with guitar and all, skip a few notes if its moving too fast for me

...but then again I'm not going to enter any contests!...so I choose this discipline for myself based on the music I am playing, I'm sure everyone is different!

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cid
September 24, 2019 - 1:55 pm
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Hey, @starise, do the strings affect you between classical practice and fiddle practice? 

They call me, “Mellow Cello” 

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Mark
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September 24, 2019 - 7:39 pm
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Just my two cents, 

With any style of music you play good technique  is good technique, and good technique allows you to Express your self more easily. At one time I thought how silly it was to play our of first position, but after realizing it open a whole new world of playing and expressing your self, I had to eat crow, and change my position on playing in other than first position. Watch the top notch competition fiddlers and Celtic  fiddlers they all use positions. The more we learn our instrument the more we can use it to Express or feeling to the listener's. How ever I've heard some great fiddlers who never leave first position so it all down to personal choice if we can get the sound and feeling were trying to convey to the listener.

 

Mark

Master the Frog and you have mastered the bow.

Albert Sammons

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GregW
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September 24, 2019 - 8:02 pm
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Mark said
Just my two cents, 

With any style of music you play good technique  is good technique, and good technique allows you to Express your self more easily. At one time I thought how silly it was to play our of first position, but after realizing it open a whole new world of playing and expressing your self, I had to eat crow, and change my position on playing in other than first position. Watch the top notch competition fiddlers and Celtic  fiddlers they all use positions. The more we learn our instrument the more we can use it to Express or feeling to the listener's. How ever I've heard some great fiddlers who never leave first position so it all down to personal choice if we can get the sound and feeling were trying to convey to the listener.

 

Mark

  

I dint see how you could go very far in say bluegrass fiddle without shifting out of 1st position.  The more a person learns the instrument as a whole the better they'll be.  Old Time and Irish don't seem to require as much of that from what Ive seen in my very short fiddle life.  Maybe performance type celtic pieces do though.  But I agree..it can only help all around to really LEARN the instrument..then decide to pull those techniques out when wanted.  Vibrato for instance wouldn't fit very well in an old time jam but playing a solo of Ashokan wouldn't sound quite right without it.  Just depends on what your goals are.  

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cid
September 24, 2019 - 8:23 pm
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If you are taking official fiddle music lessons, do they do shifts in the lessons at some point? I was just wondering if that is one difference. My lessons are using classical pieces. I am playing on my own from my fiddle book, I think it is called, “You Can Play Fiddle”, but not sure. I am doing that on my own.

What I do not get is why my intonation is better with the fiddle songs. Why should that be? Is it the way classical is taught? I don’t see how that can be. The notes are the same place on the fingerboard, no matter what genre you are playing. I am not as far as along as you guys and not as educated in music theory as you guys, but just the intonation, do you find it easier to learn that with fiddle music? 

The other thing is, if your instructor is using classical pieces for you to learn from for lessons, does that mean you are learning classical violin? Is there a certain way you are taught to play classical as opposed to fiddle? I know I hold FiddleDeeDee differently than Rudoulf. I use Rudoulf for my lessons. Is it the greater freedom of fiddle that relaxes a person more?

I know I asked a lot. But, the shifting mentioned in the previous posts got me thinking. I realize that for me, I definitely feel a difference. Does it hurt to learn both? If they are different, talking the learning process, will the two different forms being learned simultaneously (one in lessons and one in the student’s own), counter each other help each other? 

They call me, “Mellow Cello” 

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GregW
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September 24, 2019 - 8:28 pm
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@cid said...

Is anyone here using a warm violin to learn or play fiddle music? Have you had the opportunity to play on a brighter violin? Did you notice any difference?

Id say most people staying in the fiddle realm end up playing in a group..although Ive searched for the one string type to rule them all (so to speak) and I totally get the question..but when you have say 10 fiddles and a few guitars and a banjo or 2 the warm/bright thing really doesn't seem to come into play.  Its a big sound and Just keeping up is the big thing..at least for me ( when I was going...bows head in shame).  This of course probably goes out the window if a person is in a perfoance band and is really concerned with every ounce of tone possible on stage.  I would think..  But on the other hand who wouldn't be cincerned with every ounce of tone...see what you did!?  So confused now 🙂

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GregW
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September 24, 2019 - 8:42 pm
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@cid  she has taught 3rd and 2nd postions for a couple of specific tunes.  And that was as we we re able to digest the requirements.  Also we don't study classical but there are a couple of classical instructors on site if I ever felt the need.  

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cid
September 24, 2019 - 8:59 pm
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Interesting. I remember seeing an interview where the violinist had to get a warmer violin because her violin was too bright for the orchestra. Maybe, it is more specific in an orchestra? I cannot remember where I heard it. I am pretty sure it was a video, not an article, but it could have been an article. I do not know if it was her decision, or she was requested to. I almost thing she was requested to.

Did those of you who are doing fiddle with lessons, did you specifically tell your instructor you wanted to learn fiddle? Would it be the same for bluegrass? You would request to learn bluegrass? Or is it all the same sort of learning and after you have progressed so far, you then branch or gravitate to a specific genre? 

They call me, “Mellow Cello” 

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AndrewH
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I think the main reason intonation may be easier in fiddle music than classical is that there are certain fingering patterns that you see over and over again. This is also somewhat true between different eras in classical music: generally the earlier in time you go the more predictable the fingerings, and the more the music stays in string-friendly keys. Also, perhaps playing open strings more often in fiddle music gives your ear more of a reference to work from.

About positions: one of the main purposes of shifting is to make your life easier, especially as you play more in keys that aren't easy for strings. When you're learning, a teacher will likely make a big deal out of what position you're playing in. That way, when you get into performing, you have those positions in your toolbox to avoid awkward stretches or string crossings, especially when playing in keys that are not as friendly to string instruments. Method books or etude books may insist on certain fingerings, but outside of that the printed fingerings are only a suggestion. As a performing classical musician, I just use whatever fingerings get the job done for me.

I would suggest that one major reason classical players shift so much is that they play alongside wind players on a regular basis. The best keys for wind players can be awkward for string players, and vice versa.

Fiddlers often use different bow holds from classical players, though I would also note that many fiddlers' bow holds tend to resemble Baroque bow holds that are used with period instruments and bows. There seems to be more emphasis on quick string crossing in most fiddle styles; I've found that the classical bow holds (both Franco-Belgian and Russian) are not necessarily as good for back-and-forth string crossing but are better for precise control of articulation, especially when playing off the string.

My viola is fairly bright sounding compared to others in the orchestras I play in, and I have what I would consider bright strings on it right now (Vision Solo CGD, Larsen A). This is mostly to help it project, because it is a small-ish viola. But I'm not sure it would be considered bright compared to fiddlers' instruments and setups. It seems like the darkest sounding strings that fiddlers use are strings that classical players consider brighter than average.

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GregW
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cid said
Interesting. I remember seeing an interview where the violinist had to get a warmer violin because her violin was too bright for the orchestra. Maybe, it is more specific in an orchestra? I cannot remember where I heard it. I am pretty sure it was a video, not an article, but it could have been an article. I do not know if it was her decision, or she was requested to. I almost thing she was requested to.

Did those of you who are doing fiddle with lessons, did you specifically tell your instructor you wanted to learn fiddle? Would it be the same for bluegrass? You would request to learn bluegrass? Or is it all the same sort of learning and after you have progressed so far, you then branch or gravitate to a specific genre? 

  

For me we work toward a fall and spring concert.  Spring is Irish..fall is more old time.  It's generally a group effort on tune selection but the school instructors have the biggest say.  The tunes are Seldom bluegrass type stuff but it gets into a grey (gray?)  Area with that since so many tunes cross genres.   In bluegrass style people take a break and play a solo and a lot of bluegrass is songs with a lead singer or a group song..  We don't do that in the concerts.  There is a jam more suited for that style available.

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AndrewH
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starise said
 

Back to the thread subject though- Learning only fiddle techniques can be so rewarding. I mean, that's all I've been learning until recently. It's fun. Classical training can become a drudge if I don't break it up with other things. It would probably drive me insane if that's all I ever did. I'm still trying to condition myself to play more of that. Much of it is exercise oriented or tunes mainly exploited for technique reasons over melodic ones. Feel free to disagree with that. I'm sure there are many classical musicians who really love the music that teaches them the techniques in those Suzuki books. From what I've been exposed to so far, fiddlers mainly just learn the tunes. Not for any technique reasons. That isn't bad either per se.

  

It's funny that you mention the Suzuki books... with some pieces (such as the Vivaldi concertos in Books 4 and 5) it turns out Suzuki actually edited the bowings to make them harder! The idea was to force students to use certain bowing techniques for instructional purposes. But once you have all the technical tools under your belt, the main goal is the same one fiddlers have: to make the music the sound the way you want it to sound.

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AndrewH
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cid said
Interesting. I remember seeing an interview where the violinist had to get a warmer violin because her violin was too bright for the orchestra. Maybe, it is more specific in an orchestra? I cannot remember where I heard it. I am pretty sure it was a video, not an article, but it could have been an article. I do not know if it was her decision, or she was requested to. I almost thing she was requested to.

  

It's not common for orchestras to ask a musician to get a different instrument, but it certainly happens. Some orchestras do it much more than others -- certain orchestras want to be known for a particular sound.

In general, orchestral string players need to be able to blend with the orchestra, so it's possible the instrument was too bright for orchestral playing. But I think it's unlikely, because the brightness of an instrument can be toned down a lot with darker-sounding strings, and because professional-level players should be able to blend into a section with almost any instrument. 

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cid
September 24, 2019 - 9:25 pm
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@AndrewH That is probably why my instructor says he does not like the fingering in a lot of the violin and cello books from Suzuki. He changes them so that they make more sense to teach me how to do it efficiently. Different train of thought.

On my cello, there were a couple songs in Suzuki 3 and 4 that he wanted to change too much of. Instead, he used the Essential Strings version of one and a PDF download of the other. 

So, I guess there are at least two different thoughts. Make the student work harder and not do it the efficient way, or the thought of teaching the student to think through to the most efficient way? Like telling Garmin to take the backroad route or the highway route? 

I suspect a fiddler would do the efficient way and learn that way, so maybe there are different teaching methods for the two?

They call me, “Mellow Cello” 

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cid
September 24, 2019 - 9:31 pm
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@AndrewH, maybe the violin switch was the violinist’s decision, then. It was an imterview with thay violinist. It was back in late November that I saw or read it, before I joined this forum, so I know it wasn’t from a post here. Probably violinist decision. 

They call me, “Mellow Cello” 

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AndrewH
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cid said
@AndrewH That is probably why my instructor says he does not like the fingering in a lot of the violin and cello books from Suzuki. He changes them so that they make more sense to teach me how to do it efficiently. Different train of thought.

On my cello, there were a couple songs in Suzuki 3 and 4 that he wanted to change too much of. Instead, he used the Essential Strings version of one and a PDF download of the other. 

So, I guess there are at least two different thoughts. Make the student work harder and not do it the efficient way, or the thought of teaching the student to think through to the most efficient way? Like telling Garmin to take the backroad route or the highway route? 

I suspect a fiddler would do the efficient way and learn that way, so maybe there are different teaching methods for the two?

  

Suzuki's purpose in making students do things the hard way was to prepare students for later on, when there may not be an easier option. This is really a question of whether the music is intended for performance, or a stepping stone to more difficult repertoire. Suzuki most likely would have considered everything in his method, at least through the first 6 books, to be stepping stones to something more difficult. I can't say I disagree with him, considering that the whole point of any method is learning rather than professional performance. (But if I were performing a piece that appears in Suzuki Book 4, I would do it the more efficient way too, because I'd be aiming to sound as good as possible.)

So I don't think this is really a difference between classical and fiddle. This is just a matter of whether learning the piece is a goal in itself or a stepping stone.

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AndrewH
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cid said
@AndrewH, maybe the violin switch was the violinist’s decision, then. It was an imterview with thay violinist. It was back in late November that I saw or read it, before I joined this forum, so I know it wasn’t from a post here. Probably violinist decision. 

  

I'm not saying it wasn't the orchestra. But if the orchestra asked for it, I would guess it was most likely specific to that orchestra.

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GregW
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@cid said.."I suspect a fiddler would do the efficient way and learn that way, so maybe there are different teaching methods for the two?"

The biggest part of the lessons I have will be on efficient BOWING and also the "feel" of the tune.  Also starting to get more and more into double stops and when/where are good places to use them.  fingering is always discussed but its more how to set yourself up to be in the right place when crossing strings and such.  Like plopping fingers as a group and not just using one finger to try and find notes.  I'm finding its SLOWLY starting to sink in and some things are starting to become more automagic.  Even with good instruction my Intonation and speed are still my biggest trouble areas ( shouldn't be but are) so I'm behind the curve some ( or just hard headed ) but don't let it bother me and relaize its an ongoing endeavor.

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Pete_Violin
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GregW said 
  Even with good instruction my Intonation and speed are still my biggest trouble areas ( shouldn't be but are) so I'm behind the curve some ( or just hard headed ) but don't let it bother me and relaize its an ongoing endeavor. 

I never judge anyone who is working on intonation and finds it a challenge. It is, in my opinion, one of the most difficult skills for string players.

I am always working on Intonation.  I plan to always work on it for as long as I play.

- Pete -

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