Many classical violinists are crossing over to learn fiddle styles, and that is a WONDERFUL win-win scenario! Most people agree that classical training improves our fiddling, but what fewer people understand is that fiddling also improves our classical playing!
Fiddling develops other skill sets that get neglected in classical programs and therefore really helps to create complete, well-rounded musicians. Those skills include listening, patterns, and technique.
Fiddling strengthens our listening
Where classical violin emphasizes reading music, fiddle emphasizes listening. We must learn to listen to others as we play. We must learn to play by ear. We must learn to make adjustments based on what others around us are playing.
Fiddling teaches us to pay attention and not to play in a vacuum. Just because fiddle has the melody more often doesn’t mean we can just saw away on the melody and ignore everything around us. We must learn to communicate with others, share the melody, take turns, and be sensitive. The inability to really listen and use our ears is one of the most common deficiencies I see in adult violin and fiddle students. And it can be addressed partially by including fiddling in your activities.
Thinking in Patterns
Fiddling helps us learn to think in patterns such as the Nashville Shuffle, which is just one of many fiddle bow patterns taught in the Fabulous Fiddle Fundamentals online fiddle lessons course. Learning to think in patterns helps improve our speed and our sight reading.
Fiddling teaches us to play on two strings, which is difficult and really improves our bow control and left hand form. If left hand OR bow control is defective when playing on two strings, you get instant unpleasant feedback in the form of a screech! It’s the perfect shock collar for students! 😉
In most classical repertoire, we are not confronted with double stops until we get into intermediate and advanced repertoire. Fiddling allows us the chance to tackle this technique much earlier in a fun, non-intimidating way. Finally, fiddling requires agile string crossings, another challenge for our bow technique which we would not approach until we reach higher classical repertoire.
If you are a classical violinist and want an interesting and fun way to sharpen your skills, you might want to look into fiddling. I know classical violinists who take the summer off to fiddle. It might work for you, too.
Check out my online fiddle lessons course. You’ll be amazed by what you learn.