Fiddlers Green Beyond Violin/Lesson 2

Subject classification: this is a music resource.

Please listen to Old English style rock. This will not only focus on chopping but the bow will be the main focus.

How to accompany



A great demonstration of how to accompany singers in a fiddle band is provided by the clip of Jay Ungar and Molly Mason performing Home Grown Tomatoes with their band Swingology. It's a song written by Guy Clark. If you need convincing that fiddle is essential to performance of this kind of song, consider this clip form the Central Ohio Folk Festival. The clip might be useful for fiddle practice as a kind of "Plus One" background track, but the real take home point is how this lineup just screams "Fiddler Needed"!

Don't improvise too much too early



If you are the lead instrument, lay down the "head", as jazz musicians say, before getting too creative or you may confuse others in the band or audience. [1]

If you are in improve mode, know your pentatonic scales and hit that blue note. The w:flat third and the w:flat five are your friends !

Learning resources


Although traditional music purists prefer learning by ear rather than learning "by note", in modern times a plethora of educational material is available, often by well known composers and performers. According to ethnomusicologist Lynn Whidden, old time traditions such as Metis fiddling are transmitted directly rather than through the "passive" mode of teacher-student. "Like other things in aboriginal culture it wasn't consciously taught...[it was taught] very actively."[2]

  • Mark O'Connor: Notable sources of instruction in the Old Time fiddle tradition include Mark O'Connor, who, despite a varied repertoire including jazz, bluegrass and swing, is recognized as an exemplary player of Texas style Old Time Fiddling. In 2009, O'Connor released Books 1 and 2 of his 10-book O'Connor Method - A New American School of String Playing[3] O'Connor pedagogy is also offered in conjunction with Berkelee College of Music and the East Tennessess State University[4] Mark O'Connor Fiddle Camps is a 501(c)3 corporation with an arts advisory board including O'Connor's notable collaborator Yo Yo Ma. The camps include other styles, but faculty relevant to Old Time fiddle include Shane Cook (Canadian Fiddling),Daniel Carwile (Texas Fiddling)and Matt Glaser (Bluegrass Fiddling).[5]
  • Jay Ungar: Jay Ungar, one of the more famous American fiddlers, while popular with many casual OT fiddling novices, is not a pure old time fiddler. He is however an educator who has elevated the social prominence of all forms of Americana and American culture through his composition and fiddle camps. He achieved fame in fiddle circles due to use of his material in the film industry, notably Ashokan Farewell and he operates fiddle camps in New York State.[6] The educational offerings by this notable fiddler and pedagogue provide an interesting secondary source suggesting a categorization scheme for various genre and styles. These include:
  • Western & Swing:Swing dance, two-step, waltz, square dance|squares & contras, fiddle, mandolin, guitar, piano, singing, vocal workshops, swing & country band clinics, music theory and more.
  • Northern style: Contras, squares, English, Quebecois, Scandinavian dances, New England, Quebecois & Scandinavian fiddle, guitar, piano, singing, band clinics and more.
  • Southern: Squares, contras, clogging, Cajun & Zydeco dance, fiddle, banjo, guitar, singing, band clinics, callers workshop and more.
  • Other:Cajun, Swing, squares, contras, fiddle workshops, song. Guitar:Blues, Rags, Jazz, Flatpicking.

Summer Dances at Ashokan Summer Dance and Dinner at Ashokan.


  1. source=Banjo Ben| Haired Boy|Flatpicking Lesson|2010|
  2. URL|Full citation at Metis fiddle article. Citation upgrade needed.
  3. "O'Connor Violin Method". Mark O'Connor Musik International.
  6. The Story of Ashokan Farewell