Expert Advice for Learning the Irish Fiddle
Liam O’Connor, one of Ireland’s leading fiddle players with a TG4 Gradam Cheoil and an Irish Times Trad Album of the Year award under his belt, recommends a three-strand approach to learning the Irish fiddle – listen, learn and fine-tune your technique.
Firstly, find fiddle players of Irish traditional music that you love and want to emulate and listen to them, how they play, the ornamentation they use; it’s best to listen to the fiddle player playing solo to really focus on the sound the fiddle makes, and if you can view them live, all the better. Listening is key to making great music as it develops your ear, increases your awareness of different styles of playing and gives you an idea of what you’re trying to achieve and where you’re trying to go with your fiddle.
Do your research before you choose a teacher of Irish fiddle music. Ask for advice, look on forums and make sure that the teacher is skilled in the area you want to excel in eg. traditional Irish music. Don’t forget that thanks to the miracle of modern information technology lessons don’t have to be in the same room, let alone the same country, in fact accessing specialist Irish fiddle lessons has never been easier. Teaching groups like The Trad Mentors established in 2012 offer interactive online fiddle lessons with experienced players while the Online Academy of Irish Music offer pre-recorded fiddle lessons, if finding a teacher in your area is proving difficult or you want to augment your weekly offline lessons.
Try and keep on top of your technique, constantly improving and perfecting it. This includes posture, how you hold the bow, how your hand grips the bow, how the bow makes the note, the way your left hand supports the violin etc. Always dedicate time to this as it will stand to you when you come to learn more difficult tunes and will also act as an invaluable support to help develop and perfect the style you ultimately want to display.
Why not take a look at our beautiful antique violins for sale and see Liam O’Connor play a selection.