Improving Beginners Class

Thursday 7th June

Tonight  learnt the jig Rocking the Baby, which is in the key of A. We worked on emphasisng the notes on the beat, and playing the tune with quit a dotted rhythm. We then looked at adding chords into the A part (playing the open e string). We also worked on the final phrase in the A/B part, playing it stacatto, at the heel end of the bow, lifting the bow from the string between each note.

Thursday 31st May
We worked on the Eagle’s Whistle, looking at ways to embellish the tune. we added chords (using the open D string) in the A part of the tune, and also added grace notes, hammer-ons and an upbeat push on the bow in the B part.

We also had a look at jig rhythm. We’ll learn a new jig next week

Thursday 24th May
We learnt the tune The Eagle’s Whistle, which is in the key of G. The tune can be played in the lower octave, entirely on the D and G strings. There’s plenty of scope for adding in chords to the tune.
We also tried playing the tune up an octave (starting on the 3rd finger on the D string)

Thursday 17th May
We learnt the second part of L’air Mignonne, and did some work on playing chords.

We worked on using the transferring the weight of the arm into the bow. Once you can do this you can use it to gain control over chord playing.

We practiced playing with the bow on the open D  string, and very close to the A string (which is the string we’ll play to add a chord). You can chose when the chord happens simply by adding some weight into to bow – this is enough to get the bow hairs to play the second string as well, without having to change the angle of the bow to hit the A string. It allows you to play with much more fine control over which notes you chose to add chords to, simply by changing how you use the weight of your arm.

Thursday 10th May
We learnt the first part of the French Canadian tune L’air Mignonne (or Cute Wee Tune). We looked at ways to add chords into the tune, and how we can use those chords to play around with the rhythm, pushing the emphasis from the main beat to the upbeat. We’ll learn the second part of the tune next week.

Here’s a video of the band Imar playing it at the start of a set of tunes. Notice the A and B parts of the tune aren’t repeated.

Thursday 3rd May
Tonight we worked on the Wren, looking at decorations we can use in the tune, and how to introduce dynamics. We also played through the tunes for the parade on Sunday

Thursday 26th April
Tonight we learnt the tune the Wren by ear. We’ll do some more work on the tune next week

Thursday 29th March
We played through our repertoire from this term, particularly focusing on bowing. We also looked at some of the chords that can be added into these tunes, and worked on how to play chords on the fiddle.

Thursday 22nd March
The class learnt the tune Old Joe Clarke


Thursday 15th March
Tonight we played through The Reel of Tullochgorum and Put Me in The Big Chest. Then we played the scale of G (2 octaves).

We learnt the tune Ae Fond Kiss
Thursday 8th March

In tonight’s class we played around with the D scale. We played the D arpeggio – the open D, F# (2nd finger on the D string), open A, and D (3rd finger on the A string). We also found notes in the arpeggio in higher and lower octaves (playing a low A with the first finger on the G string, a high F# with the first finger on the e string, and a high A with the 3rd finger on the e string). The notes in the arpeggio are the notes that make up the D chord, so they all harmonise with one another. We tried playing around with these notes, with all of us chosing any note in the arpeggio to play, and listening to how the notes blended together in the group.

We  played the D scale as a round – half the class started the scale, and the second half of the class started the scale when the first group were playing the F# (second finger on the D).

At the end of the night we split the 2 groups up, and alternated around the circle, so each person had someone either side of them who was playing different notes. We tried playing while focusing on the overall sound of the group playing together.

We also played through the notes in the scale of G, over 2 octaves, starting on the open G string.

Thursday 1st March
Tonight we worked on the bowing for Put Me in the Big Chest, focusing on playing with a down bow on the beat.

Thursday 22nd February
Tonight we learnt the reel ‘Put Me in the Big Chest’. We worked on emphasising the notes that fall on the beat, aiming to play these notes on a down bow.

Thursday 15th February
Mid-term break

Thursday 8th February
Tonight we worked on embellishments we can add into tunes. We tried playing a hammer on, a simple grace note, and a percussive chord.
Here’s Hanneka Cassels demonstrating how to play a hammer on.

We also played around with the scale of D, playing it as a ’round’ so half the class was creating a harmony over the original scale.

After the mid-term break we’ll be learning the reel ‘Put Me In The Big Chest’, which has a triplet in it. This is three notes played very fast. Here’s Bruce MacGregor showing how it’s done:

Thursday 1st February
Tonight we worked on the Reel of Tullochgorum, looking at working out a bowing pattern that gives us a down bow on the main beats in the bar. We also looked at adding chords into the tune. The written music is in the new Fun Fiddle tune book.

Thursday 25th January
We worked on our bowing tonight, revisiting how to transfer the weight of the arm through the bow, to help the bow connect with the string.

Thursday 18th January
For the first class of this term we learnt the Reel of Tullochgorum. Here’s a video of the tune being played by Fiona Cuthill of Glasgow Fiddle Workshop. She plays it once at speed, and then a second time more slowly.

We focused on playing the tune with down bows on the beat. We’ll do some more work on this tune next week.