Academy Curriculum

If you are competent in reading music, you may use these lessons on reading music as a review.  Reading music is a vital technique; music notation is the instructions to playing a tune.  Properly written music provides you with all the essentials you need to play a song.  The notes to play, the duration of each note, and proper bowing patterns are all there right on the page.

The first step prior to any lessons is to review the Video Player Instruction!  We have a custom embedded player that has the capability to slow the speed and loop small sections of each video.  This feature is a great tool in the learning and practice experience!

At this point, you are ready to begin learning songs.  Upon completion of this level, you will learn nineteen songs in four different keys.  You will also be ready to begin playing with others.  In each lesson we provide the piano accompaniment sheet music and guitar chords for friends and family to play along!  Also, don’t forget to play along with Jim on the fiddle tracks and backup rhythm track with each lesson.  Reminder, please ensure you have completed and understand the use of the Video Player in the Video Player Instruction lesson.  Ultimately, we suggest that you schedule a virtual live lesson with of our staff weekly to receive feedback in progress and proper instruction to ensure you are demonstrating the proper fundamentals.  We understand weekly lessons may not be possible in many cases, but we suggest that you schedule lessons as often as possible.

Level One

Level One starts at the very beginning.  The only requirement is having an instrument and the desire to learn!

In Level One we begin with the essential techniques of holding the fiddle and bow.  If you have played or taken any lessons previously, we highly suggest you review these techniques lesson to ensure you are building on a proper foundation.  Upon completion of the essential techniques, we strongly suggest that you schedule a lesson with one of our staff to ensure the ability to demonstrate these fundamentals.

Essential Techniques
Reading Music
Lessons Level One

Congratulations! Upon completion of the Level One courses; you are now on your way and ready to play with others.  We stress the importance of playing with others.  This provides an environment in which to improve as a musician and create friendships that last for a lifetime.  Many communities have regular jam sessions.  Also, remember that each lesson provides piano accompaniment and guitar chord charts for others to play along.  You should look for fiddle contest in your area, especially those with a beginner’s category.  Fiddle contests are an excellent environment to strengthen your skills and maybe even win ribbons, plaques, or money!

Welcome to Level Two!

Level Two

In Level Two we will continue with fifteen of the songs from Level One and add two new songs!  Our philosophy of teaching, the Helix Learning System (HLS), builds upon the foundation of Level One introducing new techniques.  These techniques include sixteenth notes, the Nashville shuffle, and more advanced slurring.  Prior to beginning Level Two, you should be confident in playing the selections in Level One at an average tempo.  Again, we want to stress the importance of scheduling lessons with our staff to demonstrate and receive feedback on your new skills.

Essential Techniques
Lessons Level Two

Congratulations on the completion of Level Two.  At this point, you should be really impressing your friends and family!  Continue to look at opportunities to play with others as this a very important aspect of your continued growth.  Remember to look for fiddle contest and conventions in your area.  If there are square or contra dances in your area, you are now ready to supply fiddle music to dance groups!

Level Three

In Level Three, we make the exciting transition from an advancing beginner to the intermediate level.  Levels One taught us the basic melody of the song, while Level Two focus on adding the Nashville Shuffle pattern that really give a song the groove.  Level Three is going to incorporate advanced sixteenth notes that create a more mature sound.  We also discover accidentals, double stops, drone double stops, mordents, shifting, spiccato, and triplets.  Finally, we are going to explore harmony fiddle playing, one of the most enjoyable aspects of playing fiddle.  Harmony fiddle playing consist of multiple fiddle players playing different parts based on chord tones.  With two fiddlers, the first fiddle plays the melody line and the second fiddle generally plays a harmony note above the lead melody.  This approach is called second fiddle or twin fiddling.  Finally, if three fiddlers are playing, the third fiddler plays a low harmony.  You now understand why we taught arpeggios in the essential techniques and suggested to go out and play with others!  Level Three is an exciting level; so, let’s get started!

Essential Techniques
Lessons Level Three
Essential Techniques
Lessons Level Three Harmony

Congratulations of the completion of Level Three.  If you can fluently play this material in tune and an average tempo, you are now considered an intermediate fiddle player.  Level Three students can do well playing in local fiddle contests, square and contra dances, and in various settings such as jam sessions.

Level Four

Welcome to Level Four as we take the step from intermediate to advanced! In this level we introduce complex slurs and double stops in the second and third positions. We also introduce variations to the melody with melodic ornaments and syncopation. Before beginning this level, the student should have a good grasp on Level Three. Let’s get started!

Essential Techniques
Lessons Level Four

Congratulations on now becoming a serious fiddler.  Level Four is a major step in becoming an advanced player.

Level Five

Level Five is designed to introduce the student to contest fiddling.  We will introduce higher positions and contest-style variations with repeats.  The prerequisite to this level is the completion of Level Four with the ability to perform satisfactorily all the material.  Upon completion of this level, the student will be playing at a level to compete in regional, state, and national contests with some of the best fiddle players in the country, and playing local gigs should be possible.

Lessons Level Five

Upon completion of Level Five, you are now ready for the contest world.  You should be playing dances and working with regional bands.  Look for opportunities to play with others in a serious band and enjoy the instrument.  At this point, we consider the mission of the Academy is complete.  Students who have thoroughly completed Level Five have an education and should be able to teach themselves.  But wait!  There is one more level if you are up for the challenge.

Level Six

Welcome to the challenge of Level Six considered to be a master level of fiddling.  This level contains through-composed contest-style arrangements and variations.  Becoming competent at this level literally takes years of consistent practice and study, but it is truly worth the effort.  Jim Wood is the instructor for this level.  You will definitely want to schedule frequent lessons with Jim provide support for this material.  The fiddler that can fluently play this material will be considered a master fiddler player.  The material presented is worthy of any competition or concert.

Lessons Level Six

Congratulations upon successfully completing this level.  Students who can effectively play these tunes with good intonation, timing, and tone can be considered in the top two percent of fiddle players throughout history.

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