Emerald walks you through the melody and bowing of the first (A) part of “The Kerry Polka” in this video.
Learn to play the fiddle from scratch using traditional Scottish and Irish melodies. With essential techniques for both hands.
Get started on the fiddle with these essential lessons.
Emerald introduces you to the fiddle/violin. She talks a little about the history of the fiddle and shows you the different parts of the instrument.
Emerald shows you the tuning of the fiddle (GDAE) and how to get your fiddle in tune.
Emerald shows you how to restring your fiddle, which you’ll only need to do when it’s time to change strings. But you can also use this video to learn how to change a string if you break one.
In this lesson, Emerald gives you advice on holding the fiddle and positioning your body in a relaxed way to avoid injury and tension. She talks about starting with good posture, so you have a good foundation to add your fiddle to; using a shoulder rest; positioning your fiddle on your shoulder and collarbone and your chin in the chin rest; resting the neck of the fiddle between the base of your thumb and the first knuckle of your index finger, etc.
Emerald shows you how to hold and move the bow in this video. She starts by showing you a “paintbrush” exercise to demonstrate how to move your bow arm without the bow. She talks about the parts and mechanism of the bow, how much to tighten it , etc; and explains where to place your fingers on the bow, starting with your thumb. Then Emerald shows you where to place the bow on the strings, how to move your bow arm so the bow stays parallel to the bridge, how much pressure to use, etc.
You’ll learn your first Celtic tune (“The Kerry Polka”) and your first scales in this lesson. “The Kerry Polka” is in the key of D major, a common fiddle-tune key, so Emerald starts by showing you a D major scale (the notes you’ll use to play in the key of D) on the D and A strings and how you can use the same fingering on the bottom two strings (G and D) to play a G major scale and the same fingering on the top two strings (A and E) to play an A major scale.
The second Celtic tune you’ll learn is a popular Scottish song, “Mairi’s Wedding.” Emerald starts by showing you how to sing the melody, so you get it in your head, and then she walks you through the melody of “Mairi’s Wedding” on the fiddle.
In this lesson, you’ll learn your first Celtic jig: “Off She Goes.” Jigs are one of the most common Celtic dance styles and are in 6/8 time. Emerald starts by explaining jigs and suggests you think “jiggety-jiggety” to understand the 6/8 rhythm. “Off She Goes” is in the key of D, but it has a few more notes than the previous tunes you’ve learned. It also uses some arpeggiated phrases in the second part.
“The Skye Boat Song” is a classic Scottish song and fiddle tune. It’s most often played in the key of G, so that’s where you’ll learn it. You’ll learn the melody, of course, as well as how to drone on open strings to accompany the melody.
“Danny Boy” is a classic Irish song, and is often played as an instrumental. It includes some more involved melodic lines than you’ve learned so far—including string crossings, arpeggiation, and some simple ornamentation.
Although the Scottish jig “The Stool of Repentance” is named for a stool used for public humiliation in Scottish Reformation churches, it’s a bright happy tune in the key of A, and is popular in Scotland and Cape Breton.