Learn Fiddle Online - For Beginners

  • 18 lessons teaching how to play 13 very popular Irish tunes.
  • Progress at your own pace, pause & repeat videos.
  • Access on all your devices.
  • PDF sheet music & mp3’s to download & keep for each tune.
  • 14-day free trial. Cancel anytime.
  • Access to 14 instruments, 40+ courses, 700+ tutorials

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BONUS:
  • Access our Entire Course Catalogue for Every Instrument.
  • Library of over 150 popular Irish tunes to practice along with.
  • Virtual Reality Sessions for the unique Irish Pub Session experience – a real treat for the Irish music lover.
  • Community Forum of students and teachers, all friends with a love of Irish music.
The fiddle is simply what the violin is known as in the Irish music tradition. What differentiates ordinary violin playing from the traditional Irish way of playing is the long bowing style used, and perhaps the odd “hup” thrown in by the musician! Anyone can learn the fiddle, whatever age or musical ability. A growing number of our students from all over the world, and many different traditions, are testament to this very fact, and this Fiddle Basics Course is what got them on their way to a lifetime of enjoyment with what is the quintessential instrument in the Irish music tradition.

By the end of this incredibly comprehensive course you will have a repertoire of thirteen popular Irish session tunes. The course has 18 lessons, broken into 3 to 4 tutorials each, where tunes are taught phrase by phrase.
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images of lessons

Course Structure

The Fiddle Basics Course is really for those starting from scratch with the fiddle, or established violin players who wish to master the bowing and ornamentation styles that will give their playing the distinctive ‘Irish feel’. It begins with basics like introducing the different parts of the instrument and how to hold it so as to minimise strain; what the proper posture is, bowing technique and two easy nursery rhymes. Good basic technique is addressed and reinforced throughout the tutorials as it is seen as fundamental to any progression with the instrument. OAIM’s unique, animated fiddle graphics act as a visual aid for the notes, while the tutor’s instruction is shown in two angles, front and side angle, so that the student can get a better appreciation of the physical aspect of the technique being taught.
 
After the six introduction lessons, there is a progressive study of fingering, bowing, and ornamentation, using a wide variety of tunes.  So as well as learning a technique, you have the added bonus of building a repertoire of Irish tunes (13 in total from this course alone). Emphasis is placed on tempo, rhythm, tone and technique.
Lessons on bowing cover:
• Long and short bowing for creating rhythm.
• Switching between A and D strings.
• The bottom string of G.
Lessons on ornamentation basics cover:
• Cuts and triplets.
• Bowed triplets and one note triplets.
• Rolls and second finger rolls.
• Chords and double stops.

The Irish traditional tunes taught on this course are:

Maggie In The Wood
Terry Teehan’s Polka
Britches Full Of Stitches
Hole In The Hedge
The Ten Penny Bit
Báidín Fheilimi
Tripping Up The Stairs

The Miller Of Glanmire
The Rose In The Heather
Rolling In The Ryegrass
Peter O’Bryne’s Fancy
Bill Malley’s
The Millstream

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Sheet Music and Mp3s available to Download for each Tune

Maggie in the woods sheet music

Sample Sheet Music

Download Maggie In The Woods ABC Sheet Music.
Download Maggie In The Woods Standard Notation Sheet Music.

Sample mp3 of Maggie In The Woods

Download Mp3 for Maggie In The Woods.

Recommended Fiddle for Beginners

For a beginner fiddle the tutor recommends the Stentor Student 1 or 2 which comes in at around €150-€200. They have a nice tone and good strings. There is also the Hidersine range from €100-€150 if you want to go a little lower in price. Also make sure to buy a shoulder rest.

When starting the fiddle the most important aspects to work on are the Fiddle Hold and the Bow Hold.

1. Bow Hold

First of all when using the bow you must tighten it by turning the screw at the bottom of the bow clockwise. Don’t tighten it too tight just enough for there to be approximately 6-8 mm between the hair and stick. Also make sure to loosen bow when finished playing.

When learning to properly place your right hand, hold the bow stick with your left hand. Be careful to not touch the bow hair with your fingers. Oil from your hands can get onto the bow hairs and this will make them loose the friction needed when connecting with the strings to make sound. It is also important to keep the bow well rosined. Place your thumb on the underside of the bow stick, next to where the frog ends. Usually, there will be a small space between the frog and the leather or wire finger grip. That’s the spot where you want to place your thumb.

Next, the middle finger is placed opposite the thumb on the bow stick, with the ring finger placed right next to it. Let your middle and ring finger relax so that they curve over the top of the bow and rest on the frog. Then, place the tip of your little finger on top of the bow stick, slightly away from the ring finger. It’s very important that the little finger is curved so that it points down onto the top of the bow stick. If it is held straight, you will loose a lot of control of the bow.

Finally, place your first finger on the finger grip, contacting the bow close to the middle knuckle. Keep the first finger curved and pointing slightly back toward the other fingers on the bow.

As an exercise, hold the fiddle bow vertically in your right hand, start to crawl your fingers up to the tip of the bow and back down without the help of your left hand. This exercise will help strengthen and improve flexibility in your fingers.

2. Fiddle Hold

The fiddle is held horizontally (parallel with the floor) and is angled to the left of a straightforward position. Place the fiddle on your left collarbone and rest the left side of your jaw on the chin rest. Shoulder rests are very helpful to hold up the fiddle.

The elbow should be under the center of the fiddle. Keep the wrist gently rounded. Avoid resting the wrist against the fiddle neck. The thumb should be opposite the first or second finger. Maintain a curved, open space between the thumb and index finger.

If you stand when playing, stand straight with feet shoulder width apart, and with relaxed knees. If you prefer to sit, use a chair with a firm base, and sit up straight and sit towards the front of the chair.

3. Bowing

It is very important at the start to bow correctly as this may hinder your ability to play faster tunes and do bow ornamentation later in your playing. When bowing you must use your wrist and not your arm. When practicing, do long bow strokes starting with the bottom of the bow on a string, your wrist should be high here. Then bringing the bow down slowly with your elbow facing directly at the ground, it should not move backwards at all. When the bow is being pulled slowly down, your wrist gradually moves in and make sure you are bowing straight across the string and not sideways. Do this over and over and getting faster and faster. The swing, lift, interpretation, ornamentation and rhythm comes from the bowing and the bow wrist.

Don’t be put off by people saying that the fiddle is a difficult instrument. Ignore them! If you want to learn the fiddle, you can and you will absolutely love it. Enjoy each new thing you learn on the fiddle, rather than thinking about what you don’t know yet. Even just bowing a string has a calming, relaxing effect, so enjoy that. With each lesson and practice session you will build confidence. If you want to make progress more quickly, set an alarm on your phone for a daily practise session. Even 15/20 minutes a day will make all the difference.

Don’t move onto a new lesson before mastering the skills taught in a previous lesson. Particularly, take your time in learning to bow the strings initially without hitting off the other strings. By staying with the basics until you have perfected them, you will have created a great foundation for making faster progress later on.

If you are completely new to music, simply download a free app tuner and set it up beside you when you are bowing the strings, this way you will be able to get visual feedback that you are playing the string correctly. Plus it gives the added advantage of letting you know if your string is in tune. Over time, you will become familiar with the notes and how they should sound (i.e., the tone.) Check in with the Community Forum regularly to connect with other students and get support.
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Getting the Right Size Fiddle

The best way to be sized for a fiddle is to ask a professional/teacher for help. If this is not possible the next best way to size a child for an instrument is to place a fiddle under the child’s neck. If their fingers can reach just over the head of the fiddle it is a good size. If their fingers do not reach the top of the head it is too big and if they fall far over the neck the instrument is too small.

Another way to measure for a fiddle if you don’t have access to an instrument, use a measuring tape. Lift the left arm and extend it fully to the side, palm facing upward, fingers flat and straight out. Place the measuring tape under the chin, touching the neck to the center of the palm. Don’t allow for any slack. Once you have the size in inches, use the size chart, below, to determine the child’s size:

Violin Sizes Arm Length Measurements (inches) Approximate Age
1/16 14″ to 15 3/8” 3-5 years
1/10 15 3/8” to 16 7/8” 3-5 years
1/8 16 7/8” to 18 1/2” 3-5 years
1/4 18 1/2” to 20 3/8” 4-7 years
1/2 20 3/8” to 22 1/4” 6-10 years
3/4 22 1/4” to 23 5/8” 9-11 years
4/4 (Full Size) 23 5/8” +/td> 12 years to Adult
Your Tutor

Niamh DunneNiamh Dunne is a highly accomplished singer, fiddler and composer from Co. Limerick. She is a member of the world renowned band Beoga, with whom she has toured extensively and recorded 3 CDs, including the Grammy short listed “The Incident” in 2009. The Wall Street Journal describes them as “the most exciting new traditional band to emerge from Ireland this century.” They recently co-wrote and performed with singer Ed Sheeran on two songs on his new album ÷ (Divide), one of which, “Galway Girl”, has met with huge success reaching number 1 in Ireland’s download chart the week it was released and number 2 in the UK. Read more.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can one learn the fiddle at any age?
Yes, is the simple answer. It's all down to the time and dedication you give it. These lessons are broken into very manageable tutorials, with very clear step by step instructions. Don't put pressure on yourself to progress quickly, take your time and enjoy the learning. We have students of all ages, actually quite a lot who never played any musical instrument before and then decided to pick up the fiddle. It is possible, it's all down to your attitude in the end.

More detailed questions and discussion on the course can be found in the Community Forum, available to paying members only.
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Fiddle Basics Lessons

Level

Introduction

Fiddle Basics Lesson 1

  • Level 1
  • Melody
Learn Irish Fiddle Online

Introduction to the Irish Fiddle, it’s components and how it is held.


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The Scale of D Major

Fiddle Basics Lesson 2

  • Level 1
  • Melody
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Hand and Finger positioning and the Scale of D Major


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Twinkle Twinkle

Fiddle Basics Lesson 3

  • D Major
  • Level 1
  • Melody
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Exercises on the scale of D Major


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Bowing Technique

Fiddle Basics Lesson 4

  • D Major
  • Level 1
  • Melody
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Bowing Technique


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The Scale of G

Fiddle Basics Lesson 5

  • Level 1
  • Melody
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Scale of G


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Maggie in the Woods

Fiddle Basics Lesson 6

  • G Major
  • Level 1
  • Melody
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Exercises on the scale of G Major.

Polka

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Terry Teehan’s Polka

Fiddle Basics Lesson 7

  • G Major
  • Level 1
  • Melody
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Bowing Basics: Long and Short Bowing for creating Rhythm.

Polka

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Britches Full of Stitches

Fiddle Basics Lesson 8

  • G Major
  • Level 1
  • Melody
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Bowing Basics: Switching between A and D strings.

Polka

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Hole in the Hedge

Fiddle Basics Lesson 9

  • C Major
  • Level 1
  • Melody
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Bowing Basics: The Bottom string of G.

Jig

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The Ten Penny Bit

Fiddle Basics Lesson 10

  • A Minor
  • Level 1
  • Melody
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Niamh will now teach the Jig ‘Ten Penny Bit’, in the key of A. She will introduce some basic or…

Jig

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Báidín Fheilimi

Fiddle Basics Lesson 11

  • D Major
  • Level 1
  • Melody
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Ornamentation Basics: Cuts and Triplets

Waltz

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Tripping Up the Stairs

Fiddle Basics Lesson 12

  • D Major
  • Level 1
  • Melody
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Bowed Triplets / One Note Triplets

Jig

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The Miller of Glanmire

Fiddle Basics Lesson 13

  • A Minor
  • Level 1
  • Melody
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Ornamentation Basics: Rolls

Jig

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The Rose in the Heather

Fiddle Basics Lesson 14

  • D Major
  • Level 1
  • Melody
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Ornamentation Basics: Second Finger Rolls

Jig

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Rolling in the Ryegrass

Fiddle Basics Lesson 15

  • D Major
  • Level 1
  • Melody
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Ornamentation Basics: Rolls, Triplets.

Reel

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Peter O’Byrne’s Fancy

Fiddle Basics Lesson 16

  • D Major
  • Level 1
  • Melody
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Ornamentation: Triplets

Jig

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Bill Malley’s

Fiddle Basics Lesson 17

  • G Major
  • Level 1
  • Melody
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Chords and Double Stops

Barndance

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The Millstream

Fiddle Basics Lesson 18

  • G Major
  • Level 1
  • Melody
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Abundance of Ornamentation!

Reel

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