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Thread: Mandolin to fiddle

  1. #26
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    Default Re: Mandolin to fiddle

    More power to ya, brother, and best wishes on the journey! My son decided he'd like to try fiddle (he's 17), so I borrowed a friend's beater, and he played around with it for a few days. Was able to play the melody to Twinkle Twinkle after about 10 minutes of watching a YouTube video, but then got busy with school work and hasn't touched it since. I played around with it a little bit, but didn't catch the bug. I'm already learning mandolin, guitar, mandocello, banjo, and bass...I don't need another obsession right now, as I'm 43 and still working full time +.

    Have fun with it, and don't get frustrated with the slow going at first, you'll get there!
    Chuck

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  3. #27
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    Default Re: Mandolin to fiddle

    Quote Originally Posted by Cochiti Don View Post
    At a moment of possible insanity, I figured that I could complicate my life even further by learning the fiddle at 72. I only just started the mandolin 8 months ago. My thought was I could do both because of the GDAE fingerboard. The violin , of course, is a much more complex beast but what the hey, it was a good deal to purchase (last week). Thereís no fool like an old fool I guess.
    Go for it! I picked up mandolin a few months ago after years of guitar. My mandolin teacher is always drawing comparisons. The music you have learned will carry over whether the physical skills do, or not. A G7th is a G7th. Even though you have to learn the fingering, you already know the chord(s).

    Besides, it is just plane fun. I will never get to the level of most folks but that doesn't mean I do not have a good time.

  4. #28
    Registered User Cochiti Don's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin to fiddle

    Had my first lesson today. Iím pumped!
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  5. #29
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    Default Re: Mandolin to fiddle

    A friend tackled the same thing.. @50,
    Mandolin and Irish Bouzouki,(as sing along function) .. & violin,

    Bene Sugg, Good to get coaching of the Bowing techniques..
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  9. #31
    Registered User Mandobart's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin to fiddle

    Quote Originally Posted by pops1 View Post
    I have always recommended that if you wanted to learn fiddle, play a mandolin first. Within two months I was playing fiddle for square dances. Haven't touched it much since I moved up here, way too many fiddle players and few mandolins. Always killed my back anyway, but a fun instrument.
    If you want to learn mando, learn violin first (and guitar). I did and its no exaggeration to say the instant I picked up a mandolin I was playing fiddle tunes on it. I did need to modify picking style as I developed into a mandolin player.

  10. #32

    Default Re: Mandolin to fiddle

    Back in the late 90's I managed to snag a fiddle on EBay that my maternal great grandfather (Joseph Ulrich Beliveau) had built back in 1949, probably his last build. He apparently was a Renaissance Man, with many careers and his fiddle building output was around 250 violins, 12 to 15 violas, maybe 1 or 2 cellos and 1 guitar (what?? No mandolins!!). At any rate, I thought that I would see if the fiddle would stick with me and ultimately the right hand was my downfall. In truth, it was going from playing guitar since age 13, mandolin since age 23, that at 50 years old, I was getting comfortable with my playing skills. It became impossible for me at that age to go back to being an absolute beginner, total suck.. The fiddle just hangs around in my closet but this thread may give me the urge to give it another try out. Thanks in advance!!

    Len B.
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  12. #33
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    Default Re: Mandolin to fiddle

    I tried learning the fiddle a couple of years ago. It did not go well.

    At all.

  13. #34
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    Default Re: Mandolin to fiddle

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeZito View Post
    I thought the same thing, many years ago - but when I lifted the violin fretboard up to my chin, I had a complete physical block on the fingering . . . somehow, the angle of my hands against the violin just completely threw me, and after a few short months the violin got sold. Hopefully you will fare much better than I did - keep us updated.
    Funny - this weekend we had family friends over whose 11-year old daughter plays the viola, and not badly for her age. Of course I got out my mandola and we tuned up together, which was fun just by itself - and I explained to her that the mandola and viola are tuned the same. We "jammed" a little (don't have much musical material in common yet!) and then I asked to switch instruments. Now, upright bass is my other instrument so I know how to use a bow, at least on the upright. But the angle of sight on the viola - I just couldn't make that work at all. It's such a different visual. My kids laughed, as I'm a notorious multi-instrumentalist in the family ... but fiddle/viola just aren't for me. FWIW, I have also tried tuba since it's "just another bass" and that went about as well (not).
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  14. #35
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    Default Re: Mandolin to fiddle

    I started playing mandolin in 2005 and have tried fiddle on and off since 2014 - mostly off and not really serious about it. In the past year however I've gotten more serious about it - like I'm actually practicing rather than just "trying it".

    Things I've noticed:
    + I got a body clip tuner which is really helpful if I'm not 100% sure about a note - I just turn the thing on, play the note, and check. Really helpful for "muscle memory" practices (i.e. play D E F# E D over and over). The fingering is a lot easier than I thought it would be (though I still am not 100% with intonation).
    + The bow is the hardest part for sure. Getting the right bow technique so it doesn't sound like nails on a chalk board or squeal is not easy - especially at slower speeds. While I can "play" songs at a medium tempo, my speed is definitely limited by bad bow techniques right now.
    + There are a lot of "non-playing" practices you can do for bow - like the "sword raise" (hold the bow like you a solider holds a sword in formation, stand up straight and sight a corner / straight line up and down somewhere. Then raise the bow slowly up and down keeping it perfectly in line with the corner / straight line. Allow your wrists to bend as needed etc)
    +Playing any song on mandolin first helps. The more I know it on mandolin, the easier it is on fiddle to an extent.
    + Sticking to the first position to start important for me - but it's equally important to venture to the second position (and maybe even third). While I miss more than I hit on the upper positions, it's a good way to get the fear out IMO. I accompany these attempts by first playing a scale in 2nd or 3rd etc position then playing the song.
    + Playing scales / scale studies is important (i.e. straight through major scales, major scales played in thirds / fourths, runs of 3, etc). I use my body clip tuner when doing these practices to help keep my intonation in check - but also I have a few recordings I use that I try to mimic by ear.
    + Using a mute is important for me now. While I don't really care if anyone is listening - it's helpful to know they can't really hear haha.

    Most important for me:
    + Keep it out and easily accessible
    + Don't over rosin
    + play with bow tension (loose is not a bad thing from what I can tell)
    + Ask fiddle players for whatever practice they do to warm up and perfect bow technique
    + Play in front of people. Even if it sucks. Buy them a beer for their troubles.
    + Playing daily - even if it's just for a few minutes. I find I lose a lot if I take a day or two off.

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  16. #36

    Default Re: Mandolin to fiddle

    I too, tried the mandolin to fiddle changeover. As is my custom I barged ahead thinking I could teach myself. I tried this for 7 or 8 years, off and on. The end result is I learned a surprising amount, but also had some bad habits, most notable of which was fingering errors. This really held me back. However, I have been with a teacher for about 3 months and I’m making progress. My wife says I’m a lot better. I’m to the point to where I get asked to play in church or here and there occasionally, which is fine. I would say heed the advice here and a teacher is a good thing. On the other hand, I don’t think I would have lasted if I was just doing learning exercises for very long. So at least I had some fun even if it was incorrect fun, and now I’m getting straightened out. I’m getting a few kudos from my teacher, and I’m having a lot of fun. Most importantly you can do it. I didn’t find the bowing to be too difficult, but a lot of people do. I do find the vibrato to be difficult. The other thing which I think is important is that I read a lot of articles that say that learning an instrument is great for your brain. I’m inclined to agree. So its a win-win. Fun, good for you, and keeps you out of trouble. Good luck!

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  18. #37
    Registered User Cochiti Don's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin to fiddle

    Been playing two weeks now with 3 lessons from a very kind and patient woman. Playing the violin is a lot like golf. There are a thousand ways to hit it wrong and only one right way. What I’ve found is that thinking of two things at the same time is impossible for my brain. So if I have to think about bowing and fingering, I’ll get one wrong. The good side is that there’s hope for me.
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  19. #38
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    Default Re: Mandolin to fiddle

    Quote Originally Posted by Cochiti Don View Post
    Been playing two weeks now with 3 lessons from a very kind and patient woman. Playing the violin is a lot like golf. There are a thousand ways to hit it wrong and only one right way. What I’ve found is that thinking of two things at the same time is impossible for my brain. So if I have to think about bowing and fingering, I’ll get one wrong. The good side is that there’s hope for me.
    Setting aside how good you get on the fiddle for a moment. Working on it industriously will have measurable benefit to your mandolin playing.

    That has been my experience.
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  20. #39
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    Default Re: Mandolin to fiddle

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffD View Post
    Setting aside how good you get on the fiddle for a moment. Working on it industriously will have measurable benefit to your mandolin playing.

    That has been my experience.
    Huh! I never thought of that. Thanks
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  21. #40
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    Default Re: Mandolin to fiddle

    I am heartened by this thread. I just bought an inexpensive violin to give it a try. At age 71 I figured I don't really have anything to lose. My pride's been lost for decades.
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    Default Re: Mandolin to fiddle

    I'm arriving from the other direction and with less road behind me, from fiddle to mandolin. Not particularly great at either but have managed to get folks to smile and dance with both.

    My question would be - what would be the benefit of NOT trying to learn fiddle?

    I can't think of any reason why anyone of any age couldn't learn to fiddle given realistic expectations, the desire to do so and considering any possible physical limitations. I can't think of any reason that they shouldn't try either, unless they don't want to or it would somehow negatively affect other more important areas of their life. Also assuming the people in earshot don't get violent before you figure it out.

    If a person wouldn't be happy until they can keep up with Mark O'Connor or play Paganini caprice 24 or something, they might want to think on it a little but even then I would vote go for it that's what they wanted to go for.

    In my limited experience, the most difficult issue with fiddle was not the lack of frets, but the bow and playing position. And they can be significant challenges. The lack of frets seemed relatively easy to overcome with a half decent ear and repetition/muscle memory.

    It took me a bit over a year, with instruction, to be able to play (as long as I kept practice) several dozens of fiddle tunes and random dittys of varying difficulty on the fiddle, competently enought to participate in a slow jam without feeling too embarrassed and occasionally play in front of strangers in certain circumstances. Bow & left hand excercises for the first couple weeks, then roughly a new tune every week or two, of progressive difficulty and incorporating new techniques periodically. Starting off the fiddle seemed pretty much foreign since most of my prior experience was with guitar.

    Conversely, after learning those tunes on fiddle, it took me just a couple weeks to figure out almost all those same tunes on the mandolin. The playing position felt natural and there was hardly anything foreign about the mandolin. But going back to the fiddle after a layoff feels close to starting all over again.

    Leaving aside any obvious instrument similarities, and whatever inherent/innate or learned/developed abilities or dissabilities a person might theoretically posess I think it just comes down to what it always comes down to - desires, goals, intelligent pursuit and hopefully enjoying the journey.

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  24. #42
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin to fiddle

    Our two local jam sessions have a few of our friends who have started fiddling in their late 60s or early 70s. None of them are non-musicians which does help a bunch and two are very accomplished on their earlier instruments (mandolin and bluegrass banjo). All three are very enthusiastic and have stuck with it for a few years, getting better by the minute. I wonder if I hadn't started in my youth whether I would have the stamina to do so now.
    Jim

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  26. #43
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    Default Re: Mandolin to fiddle

    Interesting discussion.

    With limited practice time, I feel I should try to put it into mandolin. I still struggle with that forty years after I started playing one.

    There are plenty of fiddlers, teachers and fiddle groups near me - including Strathspey & Reel Societies etc .

    One thing about fiddles is that they generally combine very well in a session.
    Bren

  27. #44
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    Default Re: Mandolin to fiddle

    I started a few years back, but I already played Ďcello since about Ď92 so the bowing wasnít too scary.
    I gig with it a bit for tunes like Fishermanís blues, Sorry, Red Rocking Chair, One More Cup Of Coffee, lots of blues tunes etc.
    Ones where the tunes are essy for the singer to carry & the fiddle solos are straightforward enough. Itís good for waltzes and slow tunes too. But sometimes I do get mixed up as to which instrument I actually know the tune on.
    So Iíve taken to putting a wee F or M beside the tune in the set list so I donít have to swap mid tune when I remember.
    Still do the really fast tunes on mandolin though as I need to work out bowings for those before Iíd avoid tripping myself up.
    Itís fun messing with bowing patterns to see how the energy of the tune changes, but you can end up bowing yourself into a corner on those fast ones if you donkt figure it out beforehand.
    Eoin



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