Sunday, May 24, 2009

may the fiddles rise again

In that photo you're looking at the twenty dollar student fiddle I learned to play on. That's my old lawn in Idaho, and three summers ago I learned how to play with that beginner instrument, and on that very grass. I never played before, but thanks to a great instruction book and CD (and a healthy sense of humor) I am now a happy addict. I play everyday, help new fiddlers get started, and can't imagine a life without rosin in my pocket and a violin neck in my left hand. I'm inviting you right now, to join our club.

Playing the fiddle is easy. It really is. Don't believe anyone who tells you otherwise. There are just four finger positions, and one of the four isn't touching anything at all, just playing the string itself. So really, you only need to learn where to press down on three places. That's it. And get this: it's the same on every string. Cake.

I'm telling you people, if you're willing to laugh a lot, and put up with squeaks and squawks - you'll all be fine fiddlers in a few months. You won't have to spend money on lessons, and you don't need three hours a day to sit with your violin. Just a twenty dollar instruction book, a CD player, and fifteen minutes a day. Fiddler's Summer isn't going to be me teaching you. It's about you teaching yourself, but with the help of a whole community of beginners around the country, and a place to ask questions and get help when you need it. Above all, it's about learning some musical self-sufficiency. The ability to play a song without earbuds or an outlet. Hell yeah.

So, this is how we'll get started. If you want to sign up for Fiddler's Summer leave a comment in this post. In your comment leave your name and location, and your history as a musician. If you don't have any musical history, this will be easiest on you guys. Since the book we're using is meant for total beginners who can't read a note--you guys got it made.

After you sign up:

1. Buy, beg, or borrow a 4/4 violin and bow. Some people hit up Ebay and found some student violins under 50 bones. There is no reason to blow $400+ on an instrument right now. If you like playing your student model, you can always trade up later.

2. Promise me you'll dedicate fifteen minutes of practice everyday. That's it. You can play longer, sure, but you need to promise me that fifteen minutes minimum every single day if you sign up for Fiddler's Summer. It has to be a daily thing. It's that everyday dedication that makes music. Take it slow, and with a smile.

3. Pick up a copy of "Old Time Fiddling For the Complete Ignoramus" by Wayne Erbsen. It's an amazing intro to Southern Mountain style and reading it is fun and warm. Amazon's got it, as does his website: This book will be your teacher. It comes with a CD so you can hear songs played slow and fast. It also gives a great introduction to the culture, history, anatomy, and world of Souther Mountain fiddling.

4. Get an electronic guitar tuner, some decent rosin, and a spare set of strings. None of this should be expensive either. A cheap guitar tuner costs 15 bucks, Hill Dark Rosin costs about 10, and Anton Breton Perlon strings can cost less than 15 a set. These three things will make your 50 dollar fiddle sound like a 350 dollar one. I suggest going to Janet Davis Music online for all three. If you're too worried to string and tune it up yourself. See number 5.

5. Find out where your closest music store is. You might need their help getting started with strings and tuning. Get out the phonebook, find someone around you who knows violins, and put their number on the fridge next to the ambulance and poison control digits. Google "Your-City-Name-Here Luthier" and see if anyone builds or repairs violins in your hometown. They'll be happy to help you get started.

6. Get excited. Go watch Cold Mountain or Songcatcher tonight. That'll be you kids in a few weeks. I promise.

From here, we'll start with tuning, and getting to know the instrument and the musical history. But we're not there yet. Right now we're just getting pumped up, and learning what a violin neck feels like in our garden-dirtied hands.

I will say this. Just have fun. Pride is dead, so let yourself fall in love with the idea of being a mountain fiddler. You don't need to be sawing out the Devil Went Down to Georgia to be a bluegrass musician--you need to love what you're doing, and make people sing or dance. Bonefide fiddlers are people who love to play, and play for that love. In a few weeks of practice there isn't one of you that won't be able to whip out a tune, if that's what you want.

The end of this will come around July 4th. We'll post links, audio clips, or YouTube videos of our playing--and for everyone who posts a clip or video of themselves, we'll all vote on the best new musician and that person will be getting a fine prize from me. I'll mail the 'winner' a CAF gift basket complete with Vermont goodness (Like Maple Syrup, a Wayside Country Store T-shirt, Some of my sheeps' fleece, etc) and a signed copy of Made From Scratch with some chicken feather bookmarks.

How's all this sound? And hey, if you tried growing peas, you've already done something harder.


Blogger Ben and Amy Dau said...

Ben Dau
Waverly, IA

I played cello in 4th grade and trombone in Junior High. I was in Choir in High School and took a music theory class. I haven't done anything musically inclined since then, but am way stoked to be a fiddler. Thundercats, HO!

May 24, 2009 at 9:22 AM  
Anonymous Emily said...

I play guitar, piano, and clarinet, and can read music. Can't wait to play my grandpop's fiddle in my grandpop's hometown. Bring it on!

Emily (who moved last week to)
Philadelphia PA
ps. my vegetable garden is coming along nicely! Your book inspired me to go beyond tomatoes and herbs. I've planted all sorts of fun veggies in the urban garden of my little solar-powered townhome!

May 24, 2009 at 9:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Salem, Connecticut

I grew up in a family of poets, storytellers, and musicians; so for me, all three go hand in hand. After years of "fiddling" with my maternal grandmother's piano, I started playing clarinet in third grade and trumpet in eleventh grade - years of concert, jazz, parade, and field marching bands.

I drove my teachers crazy as a youngster, for I did not learn how to read music until I began playing piano in sixth grade. I watched when others played the instrument, memorizing finger placement, notes, and rhythms. Yeah, I was crazy.

My first love is piano; however, I have had this secret ambition of wanting to teach myself fiddle.

May 24, 2009 at 10:00 AM  
Blogger Tara said...

Tara Pommer
Grandview, Texas

I was a choir kid all through school but never learned to read music. NEVER have touched an instrument, aside from the plastic recorders we learned to play in third grade. Peas hate my climate - I'll go for the fiddle instead! I'll try to post regular updates to my blog on my progress.

May 24, 2009 at 10:04 AM  
Anonymous Rachel said...

Ok, I want to try! I've been sniffing around craigslist for a fiddle. My 4-year-old really wants to learn too. Bits of piano and clarinet in grade school...hacker guitar for years.
Gotta find the goods, now.
Thank you!!

May 24, 2009 at 10:20 AM  
Blogger Tara said...

Fiddle ordered, book & CD ordered. Should be about a week. Hubby has a guitar tuner I can use (from years upon years of playing bass). Just need to practice out of his earshot to avoid certain mockery. LOVING mockery, of course, but mockery all the same. ;-)

May 24, 2009 at 10:27 AM  
Anonymous Cypress said...

What!!!??? You guys are a bunch of ringers! Everyone who's signed up so far is already a musician, except Tara and me! Ah well :) I have NO musical experience beyond singing in the car. I CANNOT read a lick of music and imagine that I'm going to make you guys all look real good through this experiment :)

I have dreams of playing on the front porch while the baby dances or around the fire out back with the family and the fireflies.

I've got a smaller viola strung as a violin to start off with. Rosin, tuner, etc, at the ready. I live in a rural corner of Nashville, Tennessee, so if osmosis is part of this process then I've got good support.

I'm ready to lay the ego aside and give this a whirl!

May 24, 2009 at 11:20 AM  
Blogger Kathleen Stoltzfus said...

Lancaster, PA

Okay, I'll give it a whirl. I've never played an instrument in my life and can't read music. But I'm game to try new things and love to learn.

May 24, 2009 at 11:25 AM  
Blogger White Feather said...

Okay, I'm in. I have a good violin in my closet that no one plays. Just need a tuner and my learning book/CD. I have never, ever played anything and can't read music, but all of my children are musically inclined (one plays piano by ear and one learned violin the same way, despite her teachers trying to teach her to read music, LOL!) One really does read music and sings like an angel.

My grandmother was a piano teacher, so I guess that's where the ability comes from. I've just never had a chance to learn, but I love all kinds of music. This is going to be fun, son (grin.)

May 24, 2009 at 11:49 AM  
Anonymous AmyZ said...

I have attempted (and failed at) playing guitar, played a little piano, and am currently doing a rockin' job at learning to play the banjo! I am excited for the fiddle, but I dont know when I will be able to get a fiddle to practice on. Being a college student, spending $50 dollars is a big financial decision

May 24, 2009 at 11:51 AM  
Anonymous AmyZ said...

Oh, I forgot to add:

Im Amy from San Diego :)

May 24, 2009 at 11:52 AM  
Blogger girlandcat said...

I play the celtic harp, but had to sell it when i was in a finacial bind, i have missed having music in my life ever since. I am excited to dig out an old fiddle I had but haven't touched in years. When I finish school next year I am headed back to the midwest where my favorite things to do are camping and sitting around the fire with friends. I can't wait to add a little fiddle music into the mix.

New York, NY

May 24, 2009 at 12:07 PM  
Anonymous Kelle Belle said...

Kelly Barnes, hometown Gardnersville, Kentucky Music runs in my family. My grandfather played the fiddle at dance halls in Gardnersville He never read music. He learned on the fiddle his father played and so forth. I play the piano ( just hymns no fancy smancy classical here) drums, clarinet and getting ready to learn dulcimer. Hey I can multi task !

May 24, 2009 at 12:10 PM  
Blogger Rois said...

I live in the Portland area in Oregon. I can read a bit of music, kind of enough to catch the tune.I have been trying to teach myself to play fiddle by ear.So far so good.My Great Grandma played all over at barn dances and I think it is really her playing my fiddle not me.LOL!Count me in.

May 24, 2009 at 12:12 PM  
Blogger s said...

so, you already know i'm no beginner. i've been playing violin for nearly 17 years now (and viola for ten)...but i still want to be a part of this somehow. maybe i'll use it as inspiration to get myself a mountain dulcimer when i get my big stipend check at the end of the school year.

also? can i just go off on a little string teacher "rant" for one quick moment? if you can find an instrument that has REAL wooden tuning pegs that were actually fitted for the instrument and it's within your price range, do yourself a HUGE favor and get it. (beware of the word "ebonized"!) if not, at least get a bottle of peg drops!

ps. pirastro's piranito strings are also good for beginners and cost less than $20 for a full-size set.

May 24, 2009 at 12:23 PM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

Thanks Sara! We're all lucky to have Sara here guys, she's an amazing player!

May 24, 2009 at 1:40 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Portland, OR

How did you know that I've been thinking about pulling the student violin out of my closet for the past week? I've dabbled here and there with guitar, flute, violin, etc., but I've always let myself get intimidated before I got any good, so I'm counting myself as having no helpful musical experience. Count me in!

May 24, 2009 at 2:14 PM  
Anonymous Tessa said...

South Carolina

I took piano for four years and enjoyed it very much. Unfortunately, I stopped playing when I went to college and my ability to play and read music has become VERY rusty. I thought it would be like riding a bike, but alas, it has proven otherwise. So, I am looking forward to picking up a brand new instrument and trying my hand at the fiddle. I am so excited!!! It may be about a week to a week and a half before I have all of the materials I am waiting on. Patience, Tessa...Patience.

May 24, 2009 at 2:30 PM  
Blogger White Feather said...

Oh, and my real name is Judi and I'm from Salisbury, MD. AKA chickadeeworkshop on my wordpress blog.

May 24, 2009 at 2:55 PM  
Blogger Jenni @ NotReallyAFarm said...

Hi Jenna!

I'm Jenni, in England, and I found your blog the other day and have been plodding through your archives ever since over lots of cups of tea (sorry, it' got to be tea!)

I'm (provisionally!) in on your lovely summer school :)

I started violin lessons (classical ones) at school, and carried on til I was about 13, so I know one end of said thing from the other. I also played flute from about age 11, and got up to quite a high grade. Again classical stuff.

I now hang around with a bunch of fabulous, excellent musicians, and feel completely intimidated! They all do Irish/Scottish/Englishy folky stuff, exceptionally well, and I just don't have the courage to join in! I can read music, and I'm trying to learn to play by ear (most of them don't read music...).

Also, my partner's ex girlfriend is also a fabulous traditional fiddle player, and was apparently 'shortlisted for the BBC young folk musician of the year award in 1986' (or something, can you hear the tone in my voice??) :) So I have a complete inferiority complex, and won't even attempt to play in the house while he's here, in case I offend his delicate ears, lol! (that's me talking, not him!)

Anyway, sorry, long story, but I'd love to sign up and get a bit of confidence having a go :)

Just having a scout around for the book though - used copies on Amazon here in the UK are going for around he equivalent of $50, and I'm not sure I can justify that!


May 24, 2009 at 3:32 PM  
Blogger Emily said...

Southern Ohio

I dabble in guitar, piano, and the saxophone. This will be a nice summer project--and hopefully I'll be able to play for my 4th grade students come fall!

Thanks for doing this!

May 24, 2009 at 3:40 PM  
Blogger Rhonda Jean said...

Peas are a sinch, I must be able to play the fiddle! I'll be a while before I join the rest of you, but I'll be there. Thanks Jenna, this is a life enriching thing you're doing and I thank you for it.

Wayne's book was meant for me, I am a complete ignoramus - musical instrument ability = nil. Good eh?

May 24, 2009 at 3:43 PM  
Blogger C said...

Sounds like fun! Count me in too! I used to play clarinet in 7th grade. Carrie from Chattanooga!

May 24, 2009 at 4:05 PM  
Blogger nancmcp said...

Nancee McPherson
Ontario, CA

A few guitar lessons as a kid, then some fiddle lessons 20 yrs ago. My teacher taught himself to play. I don't read music, but I do have a good ear. Unfortunately, that's not a good thing when you're learning! As I said before, I've been dragging this fiddle around for yrs, hoping to pick it back up. This is just the motivation I need!
A violin shop in Richmond, VA restrung my (student) violin w/ good strings, and if I remember, she also did some bridge work so it does sound better.
Off to order the book!! This is gonna be fun, folks!

May 24, 2009 at 4:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mountain Chicken
Granby, CO

Piano my entire life, smidge of guitar and viola.
Not an amazing musician though. I have three songs in my repertoire that I bring out for show and tell.

Clicking about on ebay right now and waiting for payday.

May 24, 2009 at 4:32 PM  
Anonymous beccaWA said...

From my highly original (heh!) username you can tell that I'm Becca in WA (state).

I played a little piano when I was very young and clarinet from 5th - 12th grades, therefore I can read treble clef. I also taught myself recorder, and can fool around on almost any woodwind instrument (flute, sax...)

Strings were not my thing, til I took old-time fiddle lessons for about 6 mos. fairly recently, but got "too busy" and too broke to continue. My teacher used tabs instead of regular notes/staff to teach fiddle. I'm definitely a beginner at this point.

As far as a tuner, you can get away with using a free internet tuning site. Here's one you can use online, and you can actually download to use offline, too.

Can't wait to get started! Happy Fiddling!

May 24, 2009 at 4:57 PM  
Blogger MistySeptember said...

Potter County, PA (I could give you the exact town but we don't have a zip code, so Potter County is the best description)

I bought a 4/4 violin off ebay yesterday for less than $50 yesterday, I bought the book and cd you suggested from Amazon as well as your book. We have a local gentleman who offers violin, guitar and yukalaylee lessons, so I thought I'd see if I can buy strings and rosin from him first.

I played the flute in elementary school and high school...I never excelled. I took 6 piano lessons as a kid. I sang in chorus...mostly b/c I didn't want to go to band and being in chorus allowed me to miss band twice a week. So, I can read music, but haven't in YEARS. I have zero natural musical talent, I sing all the time at work b/c I am preschool teacher and we sing our day away. But seriously I can't carry a tune in a bucket. But I am stoked to try this!!!

May 24, 2009 at 5:19 PM  
Blogger Shannon said...

Laguna Beach, CA

I started playing the guitar two years ago (I don't read music, I just play chords) and am not very good b/c I tend to practice in spurts instead of regularly. I bought my fiddle on ebay yesterday and am now off to find the other supplies. I'm glad to have this online group for support!

May 24, 2009 at 6:28 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...


Little bit of guitar, little bit of piano. I have fun trying out new instruments. I am excited to embark on a new adventure!

May 24, 2009 at 7:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm in. Fiddle & book have been ordered. I took a couple of years of piano lessons a thousand years ago - give or take a few years :) - but never learned to read music.

May 24, 2009 at 8:16 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...

I'm Kristin in west Tennessee. My experience with playing instruments is limited to piano when I was about 10 y/o. I can play a few things on harmonica.

I have a very musical family. My mother's family has a polka band, and they ride their float through the small town parades. It's quite a hoot. My fiancee is a recording musician and plays piano/accordion/guitar/etc.

It would be nice to surprise him with a song on the fiddle when he gets home from his tour.

May 24, 2009 at 8:20 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Tulsa OK

Played piano from ages 7-11. Didn't take (although I can still play the first few measures of Fur Elise) Played flute and piccolo from 5th grade through college in marching and concert bands. My highschool daughter is now playing my old flute.

I'm so excited to learn the fiddle! But I bet I'm the only one of the group who will be learning while recovering from a knee replacement! I figure it will be a great time to learn...I'm off work, have the house to myself during the day. The fiddle is ordered from Ebay and the book from Amazon. All should arrive before surgery in week and a half.

Jenna, how 'bout a little gadget to put on our blogs?

May 24, 2009 at 8:28 PM  
Blogger Kelli said...

My daughter Rhanna (she's 12 and a half) is signing up too. . .got everything ordered, so now we just wait! (Maybe I'll give it a go as well, as long as it'll be in the house, lol.)

This is just the type of thing we unschoolers look for - the book looks great. One of the amazon reviews said it "teaches you to teach yourself" which is our entire philosophy about learning in general, so we're excited!

Kelli and Rhanna in California

May 24, 2009 at 8:52 PM  
Anonymous Sherri Chekal said...

Well, I am a bluegrass musician.... actually a banjo player, but I've been wanting to learn to play my ole great grandpa's fiddle... I can squawk out a few things... but I need a little encouragement to get to it... Sounds like fun, sign me up.

May 24, 2009 at 9:01 PM  
Blogger Gina said...

This is so timely! I bought a student fiddle a few years ago, tried learning (sans book/CD) and gave up and was about to order a banjo! I was in band in middle school and have not tried a musical instrument since, but I looove bluegrass and old timey fiddle music.

I'll take the challenge and pick the bow back up. Ok, off to order the book!

(Thanks for inspiring me to get it back out!)

May 24, 2009 at 9:14 PM  
Blogger Gina said...


Northern Indiana

May 24, 2009 at 9:19 PM  
Blogger Adrienne said...

I played classical violin for 13 years until I broke my wrist in 2002. I haven't done anything with it since, but I miss it and I want to get back into it. This seems like my chance to play my old violin in a new way. Her name is Ellie Mae which is a name more suited for mountain music than classical anyway. She and I are itchin to get started.

Sharpsville, PA

May 24, 2009 at 9:36 PM  
Blogger Carrie said...

I play guitar a little, love to sing, kind of read music. I have the book ordered, fiddle borrowed, already have a guitar tuner. And I have several "fiddle friends". Can't wait to get started!
Lockport. Il

May 24, 2009 at 10:10 PM  
Blogger Ducky said...

If I can find a fiddle and book in my budget, I'm in. I played piano 2nd and 3rd grade and haven't done anything since.

I'm in Washington State and would love to learn how to play! Thanks for putting this in motion!

May 24, 2009 at 10:32 PM  
Blogger miz hannahlu said...

Wowee,girl,I finally remembered to check out your blog after deliciously devouring your book last winter and find that once again, you are mysteriously tuning in to my favoritest daydreams of "maybe one day I'll..."
I rejected the piano at a young age cuz it interfered with playing with my friends,learned rudimentary elementary school flute in band and even sorta read music at one 17 I saved all my RenFaire earnings and bought a Dusty Strings hammered dulcimer which I tinkered around playing traditional celtic songs by ear and my own little made-up tunes...had my eldest son at that same and family life meant that the beautiful dulcimer mostly lived under a bed for several years, until in a period of purging, I concluded it was sinful for something so lovely to lie around unused. Enter EBay.
now at 15, my son is an accomplished cellist and bassist, and mockingly tells me i'm too old to learn the violin/ me prove him wrong! my pride is at stake here, folks.

Miz Hannahlu
Chico, CA

May 25, 2009 at 12:09 AM  
Anonymous Colleen said...

I feel like the only kid whose parents never made her learn to play the piano or recorder or any other instrument. I'm eager to learn something new though so bring on the fiddling!

May 25, 2009 at 1:17 AM  
Anonymous Georgia said...

I'm all set with all of the necessary items and looking forward to learning with a group. Thanks for coordinating this, Jenna!

May 25, 2009 at 8:23 AM  
Anonymous Georgia said...

Oh- and I'm

Newbury, VT

May 25, 2009 at 8:29 AM  
Anonymous Nikki and Lonny said...

We're in. It turns out a cousin has a violin sitting in his garage. He says it's in decent condition (!).
We're in Amite, southern Louisiana, and neither of us have ever played an instrument.

May 25, 2009 at 8:54 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

I was thinking of learning the guitar this summer, but this group fiddle experience sounds so much more fun. Count me in. I'm in northern Indiana.

May 25, 2009 at 9:03 AM  
Blogger Sarah Lee said...

Logan, UT

Well, doesn't this sound fun?
I played clarinet in elementary, am self-taught on the piano with 1 year of real lessons, but deep down I am a play-it-by-ear kind of girl. I'm tired of the classical training stuff and just want to play for the love of it. I've been trying to find the right instrument for me (pianos aren't too travel-friendly). Maybe fiddle is it - I can't believe I got rid of my violin I bought as a teenager! But unless I can find a fiddle, I might take up the challenge with the dulcimer I'm inheriting from my step-mom... Just waiting for her to send it to me! I know it's not the same, but I'm going to do what I can!

May 25, 2009 at 10:06 AM  
Blogger Nire said...

Leominster, MA

I play flute and piano, can read music, sing, and have taken lessons for handbells, guitar, violin, and the bodhran, and have taught myself the oboe, clarinet, and banjo.

The violin defeated me when I was taking classical lessons, so hopefully a different learning style will, uh, not defeat me.

May 25, 2009 at 10:13 AM  
Blogger Open 2 Awareness said...

Hey Jenna~love your blog. Count us in! My 7 year old son has been begging me to play the violin. Out of the blue he asked if I would buy him one. Then I saw your entry for Fiddlers Summer and had to write. We'll start our search for an instrument, cd, book, etc. Thanks for the complete list of what we'll need. Our search begins!

May 25, 2009 at 11:02 AM  
Blogger Greentwinsmummy said...

oohhhkaaay so heres how it is,I read this post a couple of days ago & thought oh wow!


i could never do that:oS

but the little voice whispers you want to SO MUCH...

then last night something a little synchronistic happened & I thought,heyup I know what this is telling me to do.

Now... I am whatever the thing before the complete beginner is called? well thats me :o) I know what a violin looks like,if it differs from a fiddle,well thats my learning curve started,I know zilch,other than a deep stirring in my blood that makes me want to weep & shout for joy in equal measures at what i call Cold Mountain music :o)

I have just looked on Ebay under 4/4 fiddle & they all seem to come from USA,is that where they all come from?

see thats just one....




my budgets tight,really tight,so I may not be able to get hold one for when you all start but theres no reason I cant follow on behind there is there :o)

GTM x x

May 25, 2009 at 4:21 PM  
Blogger BrookeND said...

HELLO fellow friends!!!

Brooke Dressler
St. Petersburg FL (Tampa Bay Area)
Originally from Philadelphia PA - Hello Philly peeps :-)

Background: I have never played the fiddle before but in my life I have played (very amateur) the viola, clarinet and flute. I am a pretty good piano player, however and compose a lot of my own music. My favorite music to play is ragtime :-)

I ordered the book online and am planning on using my friend’s fiddle – however, while experimenting with it, I broke it! Yikes! It’s super old though and needs some minor repairs. Look forward to Fiddler’s Summer!


May 25, 2009 at 5:27 PM  
Blogger Cathy said...

No music background, except the organ and a child and years of chorus. Always wanted to play the fiddle and this is my chance. I am going to get all my "materials" Going on ebay next and I will get the book, rosin, strings and tuner. I am IN!!

May 25, 2009 at 6:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cypress -- if you need the services of a lutier in Nashville, The Violin Shop is awesome. They were very helpful and patient (I've only been playing a year). Also, they did a wonderful job repairing and restringing my child's $125 violin.

Unfortunately, I can't afford the book so I may have to bow out and cheer the rest of you on. At least, I can continue my joint Suzuki lessons with my children.


May 25, 2009 at 6:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rhonda Wallace
Irving, TX

I played the flute for 6 years and have played the piano off and on. I want to start playing, but finances being what they are, I might not be able to start completely until right before or right after the end date of this contest. But I am going to start!

Good luck to all those who are participating...this'll be fun!

May 25, 2009 at 9:23 PM  
Anonymous Laura said...

My musical experience has been strictly "fiddling around" -- picking out simple stuff by ear on the piano and the ukulele. This sounds like a great way to learn the fiddle -- count me in.

May 26, 2009 at 3:38 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

I live in Denver, NC...28037

Been wanting to learn. Love watching the local jams. I just bought my wife a banjo for Mothers Day and in return I will be getting fiddle for Fathers day (might move up the purchase because of this). Cant wait. Good luck all.

May 26, 2009 at 7:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Barrington, NH

Well, I think I'll give it a whirl. Played violin in 2nd grade but gave it up for playing outside with my friends instead. I can read music, I think. Anyhow, married into a musical family and have produced two musically inclined young children so I guess I should set the example. Maybe I'll get my 5 year old to join me. Off to find a fiddle.....

May 26, 2009 at 8:52 AM  
Blogger Heather said...

Oh, I am SO in. I already have a violin, as I read your book a few months ago and you inspired the hell outta me. :-D I've been teaching myself using a different book thus far, but I'd sure like to join y'all! I have zero musical background or ability, but my beloved husband is a professional musician, and he's giving me theory lessons. Yay!

May 26, 2009 at 10:44 AM  
Blogger Heather said...

Oh, and I'm Heather, of Dekalb, IL. :-)

May 26, 2009 at 10:46 AM  
Blogger Kimberly Ann said...

Kimberly Ann
Puyallup, Washington

I studied classical voice in college and I have briefly tried playing the celtic harp, but no other string experience.

The Fiddler's Summer idea caught my attention and I thought "why not". I'm getting a violin off craigslist today.

May 26, 2009 at 11:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Okay...this is a perfect chance to try picking up my fiddle again...i'm wary but, heartened by your post...i'll give it a try after nearly 25 years of not playing a lick....

May 26, 2009 at 11:40 AM  
Anonymous Mags said...

OK, I'm in! Still have my great uncle's violin stuck in my closet. I played for about five years as a kid. No fiddlin' but just your basic classical music.

Now, to order that book, and to find the time to play with three kids and a garden to tend...

Thanks for the inspiration, CAF!

May 26, 2009 at 12:24 PM  
Blogger Heather T said...

I'm in. I had just finished an entry on my blog lamenting my lack of musicality and the importance of it for myself and family and community. I went to CAF and there was this very encouraging invite. And I am enthralled with "fiddling".

Thanks a ton for getting this rolling.


May 26, 2009 at 1:01 PM  
Blogger MarikoMS said...

I've just ordered by book/cd set... I'll borrow my daughter's violin for now - she's not playing it... I'm a little nervous about this, but am looking forward to becoming a fiddler! ~fingers crossed~ Wish me luck! :D

Mariko in Flower Mound, TX

May 26, 2009 at 1:25 PM  
Blogger Artemis said...

I played classical violin for years, then took 25 years off. I took some fiddle lessons recently but got discouraged. I really want to participate in this. Just ordered the book.

I'm Gerilee in Virginia.

May 26, 2009 at 1:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm in: Andria, Clayton, NC, first-chair clarinet and trombone waaaaaaaaaay back when.

I hear ya "Mags" (who posted earlier): I also have a garden to tend and kids who need attention, but I figure this adventure will be a good example.

After checking out used fiddles/violins in my area, I decided to rent one for three months from a local music store. It's $20 a month. I know that's $60 down the drain, but it's supporting a small-scale local music shop, they do all tuning and cover repairs, and then I have the peace of mind of getting started with an instrument that I know is in tip-top shape (no little cracks, no bulges, no problems to be discovered later that were overlooked in my ignorance).

If I really take to the fiddle, then I can shop around for one in a higher price range that's in good condition because I know I'll use it. Hope that makes sense!

Love this contest idea of yours, Jenna!

May 26, 2009 at 4:27 PM  
Anonymous Lynnanne said...

LaFontaine, IN

I've got the fiddle, now just need the book!
Have a tuner that I bought for my mountain dulcimer. I don't play a lot of tunes on it, but have a great time with the ones I do know.
Musical background: One year of forced piano when in second grade. I made it so miserable for my mom, she let me quit.
I also played the recorder in grade school. A friend just learned about my recorder days and purchased a hot pink one for me. :)
Looking forward to this... hopefully the kids will want to learn too!

May 26, 2009 at 7:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Husband doesn't have a blog and doesn't comment on these things, but he says he's in. He plays guitar, has messed around with violin but never really got proficient. Since we do a LOT of Irish stuff, this type of fiddle will fit right in and will force me to work on my lead guitar skills (I play eternal rhythm section). He goes by Mr. Tin Foil on my blog :)

May 26, 2009 at 10:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Husband doesn't have a blog and doesn't comment on these things, but he says he's in. He plays guitar, has messed around with violin but never really got proficient. Since we do a LOT of Irish stuff, this type of fiddle will fit right in and will force me to work on my lead guitar skills (I play eternal rhythm section). He goes by Mr. Tin Foil on my blog :)

May 26, 2009 at 10:28 PM  
Blogger Wm said...

I do not have a musical background. I have thumped around on an organ like a child.
My mother's family was comprised of some pretty good musicians who played the guitar and the fiddle. Hyped! Ready as soon as my fiddle arrives!

May 27, 2009 at 1:28 AM  
Blogger k10 said...

Philadelphia, pa

I dabble a bit at the piano and love to sing but this will be my first attempt to learn an instrument! Im really excited!

May 27, 2009 at 8:42 AM  
Blogger Debbie said...

I'm ready to get started. I've got the violin and will be ordering the book/cd later today.

May 27, 2009 at 12:18 PM  
Blogger Debbie said...

oops didn't follow directions well.
I can read music, play clarinet, and some piano.
Recently started violin with my daugther, learning so I can teach her.
We recently got her a teacher. I know I could have found a way to do it myself, but she was ready to fly, and I had her grounded.
She's now flying with her teacher. She did her first recital, after only 4 lessons, and did pretty good for a 5 yr. old. And I'm ready to learn my way.
We'll get back to the mother daughter learning thing soon though.

May 27, 2009 at 12:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow! Sounds good to me.

Bridget Allin
Peterborough, Ontario, Canada

I play a bit of piano, less of guitar, and can read sheet music. I bought a used violin last year and have done very little with it. I think the motivation from here and the discipline to practice everyday are just what I need!

May 27, 2009 at 12:41 PM  
Blogger Tara said...

This is a shout-out to you ladies in Irving and Flower Mound! If we manage to pull this off, we three may need to get together in person and play for reals! (I'm south of Fort Worth).

May 27, 2009 at 1:00 PM  
Blogger spinyurchin said...

Okay, I'm in. "Old Time Fiddling For the Complete Ignoramus" ordered. Now I need the instrument! What I'm am getting myself into I do not know. I have no musical background. I'm lucky if I can tell the difference between a guitar and some drums...yes...that's how little I know about music!

May 27, 2009 at 1:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To Tara:

I'm in Irving. When I'm able to get my fiddle (middle of June, hopefully) we should. Send me an email ( It would be great to get a group together!


May 27, 2009 at 5:15 PM  
Blogger Turtle said...

Growing up i played violin, flute, drums, guitar and the bassoon. For a number of years though i have just sung with hubbys band. Two weeks ago i ordered a dulcimer, something i have always wanted to play! Picked up a few books and cd's and am now just stalking the mailcarrier! This sounds like a blast!!

May 27, 2009 at 10:05 PM  
Blogger Rita said...

Sign me up! I have always wanted to learn to fiddle, this is the kick in the pants I need.
I grew up at Bluegrass and Mountain Music concerts. I always was in awe of the fiddle players!

May 28, 2009 at 4:07 PM  
Blogger Rita said...

I forgot to say that I am not a musician and I don't have a fiddle. I'm gonna take a look on ebay.

May 28, 2009 at 4:09 PM  
Blogger Rita said...

I also forgot say that.........
I live in Issaquah, WA

May 28, 2009 at 4:30 PM  
Blogger hendersonhoundsofga said...

I hope I'm not too late?

Athens, GA
Go Dawgs!
(I'm not sure why I always feel the need to say that, but when you live in Athens it's just what comes out next.)


A friend is going to let me borrow his fiddle and now I just have to order the book.

No real musical experience other than the compulsory piano lessons during 2nd and 3rd grade.

My husband sings in a band and I have always listened to him practice now it will be pay back time.

This should be so much fun!!!!!

May 28, 2009 at 6:23 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

Got my fiddle coming on Monday.
I just spoke with Wayne Erbsen, inspired me even is coming and I am going to see Wayne and others play at a festival next weekend in Mt Airy, NC....

May 29, 2009 at 10:10 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Vicki from Atlanta

I took piano lessons for many years as a child and teen, then for a couple of years as a young adult. I also took violin lessons in 5th grade, but had to give it up when we moved and left that school system. I am now in my mid-fifties. I got a wild hair a few years ago and bought myself a new fiddle, but was not able to find anyway to get lessons to play the fiddle like this. I'm excited!

May 29, 2009 at 11:26 AM  
Anonymous Leigh said...

My name is Leigh and I live in Marietta, Georgia. I took clarinet in the band in fourth grade way back when, but I have no musical background otherwise. I can barely read music, and I have to count the lines to know the notes. I had a hard time finding a violin under $200 that was not a piece of junk (hubby set a budget), so I went today and rented one- $38 used for three months from the band and orchestra department of the local music store. At the end of 3 mos., I can give it back or pay to own it. Now all I have to do is get the book. My husband is a musician, and we have a sound proof studio in the basement. I will be practicing there. Would love some start points on getting tuned.

May 29, 2009 at 1:11 PM  
Blogger n.g.74 said...

I would love to fiddle. That's what I do in my alternate life! As for now, musically, I can only boast about being a really good whistler.

May 30, 2009 at 1:27 AM  
Blogger I am a quilter said...

Emily Gail, Huntington Beach, CA
my background is playing the flute in 5th grade and a semester in college... I am dyslexic so it was always hard... I am hoping that more practice will help. I bought the book and now I am looking for a fiddle... Love your book and blog...

June 1, 2009 at 11:27 AM  
Anonymous Gretchen Cain said...

Gretchen Cain
Napa, CA

I played piano when I was little (4th grade) and haven't done much since then. I can still mostly read music though. So excited!

June 2, 2009 at 11:55 AM  
Blogger Blue Dragon Arts said...

Lincoln, NE

I've had 5 yrs (off and on) of viola lesson, but last weekend went to a fiddlin' competition and now I'm totally hooked to get playing again.

June 3, 2009 at 10:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm In! I've played flute, a little piano, and have sat in on 6 years of Suzuki violin lessons for my daughter(who's now in the high school orchestra). I've also taken a few violin lessons for myself 5 years ago. I have a 7/8 ladies violin all ready to go. Thanks for the inspiration!
Mansfield, CT

June 4, 2009 at 9:19 AM  
Blogger Knittymama said...

Sign me up!!

June 4, 2009 at 9:52 AM  
Blogger Knittymama said...

Sign me up!!

June 4, 2009 at 9:52 AM  
Anonymous angi said...

Count me in too please!! I got my fiddle about a year ago as a birthday present, learned a couple very, very basic tunes, and then kind of gave up. I finally got Fiddle for the Complete Ignoramus a couple weeks ago and have been practicing diligently ever since. I finally shuffled Ida Red two nights ago and promplty went skipping around the apt. in delight. lol Anyway, I hope this challenge helps keep me on the bandwagon! I don't have any other musical experience other than a short stint playing the saxophone in elementary school.

June 4, 2009 at 8:30 PM  
Blogger pigeon said...

Voluntown, CT

Been playing the guitar for quite a few years now. I enjoy fingerstyle and I flatpick some. I bought my violin today on craigslist for $100. I thought that was reasonable. I'm waiting on the book which should arrive in a few days. In the meantime i'm on youtube taking a few of the introductory lessons. I've always liked bluegrass music, Alison Kraus, Tony Rice, Peter Rowan etc. I would like to be playing Shady Grove by the end of the summer.

June 7, 2009 at 5:22 PM  
Anonymous Liz Walker said...

I'm excited to read of your fiddle challenge. I am an ignoramus when it comes to learning music, but I don't care, I want to learn! Is it too late to join your fiddle challenge?

June 7, 2009 at 11:02 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Mike, which Youtubes are you watching to brush up on fiddling?

June 7, 2009 at 11:44 PM  
Anonymous Mari said...

Ok, I'm signing up a little later than most here. Just found my son's violin and bought the book. Rosin and tuner were in the case. I played the flute many years ago in college. Nothing since then. Son has said that he will help if needed. This is gonna be fun!

June 8, 2009 at 3:31 AM  
Blogger pigeon said...

I'm starting at the very beginning ra. Learning the most used blue grass scales with the help of my tuner and some nice folks on youtube.

Has anyone ever added frets to a fiddle ?

June 9, 2009 at 5:20 PM  
Blogger Krazo said...

I've decided to join in on the fiddlin fun! I've played trumpet in school and have played guitar in multiple bands for over 15 years. I've always wanted to try it and now I've got the perfect excuse! BTW your book is amazing! I devoured it in less than a day and am going to buy my chickens in a few months. Thanks for the inspiration!

Bryan Milstid

June 11, 2009 at 9:06 PM  
Anonymous Shannan said...

I finaly convinced my hubby that a fiddle is just what we need in the house. I ordered my fiddle, book and you're book this afternoon. I know its kind of late to join but I thought what the hell it sounds like fun. Plus I know my practicing will drive the neighbors crazy. (They wake me up every weekend to rap)Well good luck everyone else, from this future South Carolina fiddler.

June 15, 2009 at 6:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yay!!! I finally got my violin! I'm now trying to get the instruction book and then will get started. I'm so excited


June 15, 2009 at 6:51 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

I'm joining a bit late, but I just ordered the book and bought a fiddle on ebay. Hopefully it will not be a piece of junk. :) We'll see! Should be here by the end of the week.

I had a nice fiddle once, but I tried to learn to play it once and quit. Hopefully I can stick with it this time.

June 15, 2009 at 8:00 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

Oops! Georgetown, Ohio here!

June 15, 2009 at 8:00 PM  
Blogger Marcus said...

Count me in! I am a father of two (boys 7 and 2) who would love to see his boys develop a love of homemade music. Thanks for getting me inspired to take the plunge. Your blog is a treasure!

PS - we live off-grid, on 14 acres, near Austin, Texas.

June 16, 2009 at 5:54 PM  
Blogger Ang said...

My violin is to arrive today!! Woohoo!

June 23, 2009 at 12:19 PM  
Blogger agent juliejaw said...

I'm almost 46, but I've always wanted to play the violin. Someone GAVE me one this year. I'm going to get it restrung and get busy learning to play it this week. Thanks for your inspiration. I'm a piano player, but ready to be a violinist.

July 5, 2009 at 10:43 AM  
Blogger Don said...

Just sent for the CD and will have my fiddle next week. Looking forward to the fun!!!!!

October 29, 2009 at 6:27 PM  
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