If you can play the violin,
why not learn to fiddle, too?
Musically, my main focus with the violin has always been classical. However, my background in folk guitar styles has made it natural for me to develop some proficiency as a traditional fiddler as well. I also love to play jazz standards in a swing style. The main difference between fiddling and classical violin is that it is an improvisatory musical style. The instrument is exactly the same—the terms “fiddle” and violin are used interchangeably, even among classical violinists. The most important thing for a violinist who wants to play fiddle and folk music to do is to listen to recordings of accomplished fiddlers.
If you can play the violin, why not learn to fiddle, too?
In the interest of encouraging students to explore different genres, I’ve developed an extensive syllabus of fiddle and folk tunes of various styles and levels. I’ve also recorded a CD of all these tunes to help students learn the sound of the different styles. (Listening, not reading, is how fiddlers have traditionally learned to play.) Some of the tunes are very easy, so students can begin fiddling almost from the very beginning. When we do our outdoors concerts at the Boulder Creek Festival and downtown on the Boulder Mall, these tunes tend to be the biggest hits!
The violin is an instrument that fits in very well into almost any style of music. I encourage my students to work to develop a solid technique, and then help them to apply it to whatever musical genre interests them. Two of my alumni, boys who started with me at an early age, are now grown up and busy with performing careers as fiddlers in touring bands. They got their start in that style with me, but I wouldn’t want to go up against either one of them in a fiddle contest!
If you want to see what they’re up to, click on these links: (For Justin Hoffenberg: http://www.justinhoffenberg.com/.)
(For Zack Kline: http://www.orangemightytrio.com/OMT/Home.html )