TEACHING: (Non!) Dueling Fiddles

One of the many aspects I love about Old Time fiddling is its natural inclusivity. In most tunes, there is room for simple versions to find place to blend with more complex double stops, melodic fills and intricate bowings. To better understand what I am talking about, have a look at this sweet video my students and I put together for World Fiddle Day a few years ago. (Yes! WFD is a thing! Whoop!) As the tune gains momentum, you can literally see the layers; some players sticking with a simple off-beat chop-- while others play sturdy shuffles-- while others play a more complex syncopated double shuffleIronically, we are playing the tune Dueling Fiddles.  To be clear... all versions are welcome here. No dueling.

VIDEO: The students of Gretchen Koehler (ages 6-92) play "Duelin' Fiddles."


The "echo" phrases are ideal for developing a player's ear. To teach, I simply play the phrase and have the student repeat.  I find that if a student focuses on remembering the first note I play in the phrase, they feel less overwhelmed and can repeat it much easier. I also verbally note whether the phrase features a scale pattern or broken thirds.  As students progress we explore harmonies and fills.

The "shuffle section" really offers a lot of room for layering. Chops on/off the beat. Shuffle. Shuffles w/ fill. Harmony shuffle. Harmony w/ fills. Double shuffle. Harmony double shuffle. Unlike dance tunes that maintain a steady tempo, this tune gets faster with each pass. As the tempo increases, the choices a player makes (what to play) may change. This offers the great opportunity for the players to make musical decisions in the heat of the moment, which is what fiddling is all about! 

Happy jamming!


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