Books for studying fiddle (repertoire question)

Connie Sunday said: Jan 23, 2012
Connie SundayViolin, Piano, Viola
667 posts

Fiddle nowadays is very mainstream and it is common to find a fiddle class at Suzuki summer institutes. I’ve talked to other teachers about this, and one set of books recommended for fiddle, which work well with the Suzuki materials, is:

The American Fiddle Method: Vol. 1 & Vol. 2

I have found, however, that these get too hard, too quickly and recently discovered some material which I like much better, the Fiddle Time books:

Fiddle Time Joggers, Bk. 1

Fiddle Time Runners, Bk. 2

There is also a Sprinters book which I ordered today; I don’t know what it’s like yet.

The Runners book is supereasy, but the Joggers is just excellent, with beautiful tunes on almost every page and lots of duet material; it’s really good for sightreading practice for a student who has been studying about a year, and has lots of little techniques in it that students need to know about, like tremelo, triplets, counting rests. It’s really a good book.

I know that, more often than not (?), the fiddle tradition is an aural tradition, but I’m curious to know what books, if any, you may be using with your students.

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Barb said: Jan 26, 2012
Barb Ennis
Suzuki Association Member
678 posts

Hi—the CELLO perspective…

I use the Cello-Time series (cello equivalent of Fiddle-Time published by Oxford) as supplement with my students! CDs come with them for listening or play-along (they are not also accompaniment CDs until Sprinters, however). Piano accompaniment books are also available.

Cello Time Joggers
Cello Time Runners
Cello Time Sprinters

The Christmas book/CD is also very good. My end-of-book-1 students wanted to play just about everything in it, and I’m sure played lots more over the break than they would have otherwise. There are also a couple VERY beginner open strings parts. In the Christmas book many of the pieces are compatible with the violin and viola books.

Cello Time Christmas

I love that these books have a VARIETY of styles, including classical, fiddle, rock, blues, etc., and that there are MANY tunes at the same level. For instance, the Joggers book begins with NINE open string pieces (some duet with teacher or a slightly more advanced student). And I love the duets—other than the open strings ones, they are equal difficulty—great for beginner group playing. They are good for reading practice as there are not a lot of fingerings marked, but with the CD the students can also learn them by ear.

Because of Cello Time Joggers we were able to play for 20 or 30 minutes with a lot more than the first three or four Suzuki songs, even at my very first recital with 5 students. They played along with me and the CD and made some really great music.

Sometimes students have been anxious to move on to new pieces in the Suzuki repertoire when I know they aren’t really ready, and Cello Time has been helpful there, too, giving them something new at the same level.

I don’t like that the Joggers book progresses adding one finger at a time starting with 1 (to build the 1-3-4 pattern), but as a supplement this is fine.

Runners introduces the 1-2-4 pattern and extensions. Sprinters introduces fourth position. All books have scales and arpeggios and a few fun studies.

My students (kids and adults) and parents have really enjoyed these as a supplement to Suzuki.

Music Teachers Helper—for individual teachers
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Connie Sunday said: Jan 28, 2012
Connie SundayViolin, Piano, Viola
667 posts

I think this fiddle stuff is interesting, although you do run into all sorts of different types of people on the fiddle forums (I’ve found Fiddle Hangout to be the most friendly). I ended doing a whole page on fiddle, based on the recommendations and comments of subscribers to Fiddle Hangout and Fiddle-L (based at Brown University):

From a scholarly standpoint, this is interesting material. For a classical violinist to study fiddle—though fiddle is an aural tradition, as fiddlers will be quick to point out—is not dissimilar in some respects, to a violinist studying viola. Different mindset, but an improvement in musicality.

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