Fiddle Tab Makes Learning Fiddle Fast and Easy

Learning fiddle tab is so intuitive and so easy that a student picks it down in five minutes. That is true even for five-year-olds.


Before starting this examination of fiddle tab, let's recall what standard musical notation looks like. The familiar dot-shaped notes on or involving the five lines of the musical staff represent exact pitches of musical notes.


The dots show the pitch. Sharp signs or flat signs influence that pitch. The clef sign also has an effect.


Rhythm symbols that show the relative duration of the notes. Other musical terminology, often Italian, indicates the speed of the rhythm. Allegro con brio, like, means "lively, with enthusiasm."


Musical notation tells nothing about how to play the music on any Suzuki Blind Van given musical instrument. It was created to be used in combination with all musical instruments.


Fiddle tab, on one other hand, tells precisely what string to play and what finger to use. It's intuitive and easy to learn.


But it shows the information in a form that only fiddle players can use. It's not universal. Because it's so focused, it's simpler.


On the fiddle tab staff each space represents a string. The very best space represents the E-string, the next one, the A-string--and so on.

In the event that you placed a violin having its side, with the neck extending to the left of the body, you would begin to see the strings in exactly the same relationship. If you then reached your hands to pick up the violin, with your left hand underneath the neck, you would be in position to finger the strings the normal way.

Numbers indicate what finger to use. The quantity 1 is the initial finger--the pointing finger, 2 is the middle finger, 3 the ring finger and 4 the pinkie. An 0 means use no finger. Leave the string open.

The sole question remaining is keeping the fingers. We begin with the placement that will create a major scale. That is the most common tradition in Western music. It's common to any or all the melody instruments that I'm aware of, and to singing as well.

All music teachers start with this basic instruction: the do-re-mi of music. These first three notes of the scale are within countless children's songs: Are You Sleeping, Brother John?, Row, Row, Row your Boat, and, in the inverse order, Hot Cross Buns, Mary Had a Little Lamb, London Bridge is Falling Down, Three Blind Mice.

That sound, and the partnership of the fingers that produce that sound, underlies fiddle tablature, as I teach it. Any variation from that finger placement is going to be indicated by the letter L or H. These letters guide the student to place the finger lower or higher than usual.

Rhythm indication in fiddle tab is similar to musical notation, but simplified.

A simple line under several is known as a stem, just like in music notation. It shows the same, one beat of rhythm. Two numbers that have stems joined by another line (called a "beam" in music notation) will be played in one beat.

The development of standard musical notation in Western music was a good achievement. It resulted in the richly complex beauty, power and mystery of great music.

Learning this technique isn't any easy matter. In Europe, one hundred years ago, kids starting music learned to sing solfeggio. This meant translating musical notation into do-re-mi.

In current practice, the difficulty of learning to read music is overcome by fingering notation over the particular note. That is true for keyboard, violin, or brass and woodwinds. Numbers over certain notes aid the student in translating the symbolism of the notational pitch into physical actions.

The American Suzuki Method also uses finger notations over every note. The student has only to intuit when to alter string. In this respect it differs never from classical violin pedagogy.

In the technique that I personally use, which we might call the fiddle tab method, I show the student tab charts after the initial stage of learning to play a scale. I have never had a student neglect to discover ways to read tab charts in one lesson. It's intuitive, natural and easy.

Making the transition to reading music later has, likewise, been no great challenge. Some students simply begin Suzuki Violin Book One, having its easy pieces. They quickly learn to read.

Students who prefer fiddling may use Beginning Old-Time Fiddle, by Alan Kaufman. It's both fiddle tab and musical notation. It's an excellent resource for the transition from tab to music notation.

To learn more about learning how to play fiddle using tab charts, set your internet browser to Figure out how to Play Fiddle. You will discover an abundance of information and free tab charts.

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