Miles Music, Cindy Miles, Old-Time Fiddling

Fiddle FAQ



Fiddle FAQ
Customer questions

I want to learn how to play the fiddle, but find I have very little time to both learn to read music and play. You say I don't need to know how to read music with your book. What alternate method do you use?

The book is written in tablature which means that it tells you which finger to put on a specific string. For example, A with a 1 written below it would tell you to put your first finger on the A string and play a note. The accompanying CD includes all of the songs, giving you the rhythm of each song. There are diagrams and explanations in the first pages of the book that show you how to hold the fiddle and bow, how to tune the fiddle, how to care for the fiddle, and how to read the tablature. There are samples of the tablature, standard music notation, and CD on the product pages of the website.

I'm looking for a book of hymns for beginning violin students. Do you know if Gospel Favorites would be appropriate? These students are 3rd and 4th graders, and this is their first year, but most are doing quite well and progress better than expected.

All songs in this book are written in first position in the easiest key possible. They contain only the melody of the song, no embellishments or chords (double stops). The songs are written in tablature and standard music notation. This book would be ideal for third and fourth graders.

Hi, I play classical violin but have always wanted to learn how to play old time fiddle tunes. Would this be the book and CD for me?

This book and CD would work very well for you. Because you play the violin, you most likely read music and could use the back portion of the book which has standard music notation for each song. The CD would help you with the rhythm and getting the "fiddling" feel for each song.

I am still trying to figure out the right amount of rosin. Some times I leave a solid white coating on the strings after playing a half hour or so. A few times I could taste and smell the rosin after playing. Sometimes I leave very little. But I cannot find any consistency of sound to tell me when I am putting the right amount on. Part of my problem is I still have a little trouble keeping the bow action always straight across the strings and not sliding up and down while bowing, producing unclean, hissing sounds. I also sometimes have a little bounce of the bow on the strings whether the bow strings are loose as per your book or tight to varying degrees. This may just be me because sometimes it sounds just right.

Practice in front of a mirror keeping your bow parallel to your fiddle’s bridge. Stand with your right hip toward the mirror to view the bow and bridge clearly. After every 2-3 hours of playing, rosin your bow. The rosining process should take less than 15 seconds. A dark rosin is softer and grips the strings better than a light rosin. The most popular rosin is Hill dark. Try playing with a looser bow and lean into your index finger more to avoid bouncing. There should be no pressure with the pinky as this lifts the bow off the strings and causes a bounce.

Are all the tunes played on the CD and at what speed?

All songs are played on the CD. They are played slowly enough that you can hear each note, but not so slowly that you cannot hear the tune or rhythm of the song. There are computer programs which will speed up or slow down CD’s which you could try if the songs are not at the right speed for you.

What level would you say the Gospel and Christmas books are? Are they for easy, intermediate, or difficult violin? If it is possible can you email me one page as a sample so I can see if the difficulty level is what I am looking for?

The Gospel and Christmas books have only the melody of the songs. These are fairly simple arrangements. There are no double stops or variations. They are written in the keys that would have the easiest finger positions for the songs. Some songs are easy and some are medium difficulty. On the individual product pages of the website, you can see pages of tablature and standard notation and hear a sample track from the CD.

Reference page 18 and page 33 in Book One. What are the measurements for finger placement on the finger board? What are the white strips in the photos?

Each fiddle is different, so the measurements shown below are approximations. If you need strips of tape put on your fiddle and you cannot hear where each finger should be, a music shop should be able to do it for you. The finger positions of 0, 1, 2, and 3 are the first four notes of a major scale (do re mi fa). The photo on page 8 of Book One shows that on a full size fiddle, the first finger (1) is approximately 1.25 inches from the nut (nut is shown on page 3). The second finger (2) is approximately 1 inch from the first finger. Third finger (3) is a finger's width above the second finger. The second and third fingers should be touching. The photo on page 18 of Book One shows that low 2 should be touching your first finger. The photo on page 33 of Book One shows that the fourth finger is slightly less than 1 inch past the third finger. The "strips" you see in the diagrams are illustrations showing approximately where to place each finger. The strips are not actually on my fiddle.

The book does not explain how to play the chords on the guitar or piano.

The chords are included so that a guitarist or pianist can accompany you. Anyone who plays guitar or piano should know what the chords mean.

Do you have simple piano music to accompany these pieces?

We do not have simple piano music to accompany these pieces. The chords at the bottom of the page of each song can be played on the piano. For example: CCFG can be played as:

(Left hand lh) bass note C, (right hand rh) CEG together, (lh) bass note C, (rh) CEG together, (lh) bass note F, (rh) FAC together, (lh) bass note G, (rh) GBD together

I showed the chords in root position, but I would play some of them in inversions. The CD is split-track so you can turn the channel with the piano in it up and the channel with the fiddle down, which would allow you to hear how the chords sound on the piano.

I was wondering if you had the piano chords written out. My niece wants to play along with me on the piano but doesn't have the skill to just play the chords.

I do not have the piano chords written out. I can explain what the chords mean and maybe that would help your niece. If the song is in 4/4 time, for each letter name, you play a bass note (in octaves, if you want) with your left hand on the first count and the chord with your right hand on the second count. For example, C would be played C (left hand) then CEG (in root position or an inversion) with the right hand. In 3/4 time, you would play bass note, chord, chord (all 3 counts in the measure) for each letter you see.

Would you please explain "Apples" and "Bananas" on pages 10 and 11 in Book One?

The "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" melody is divided into two smaller sections which makes it easier for young children to learn. The two sections correspond with the lyrics as follows:

Apples: Twinkle, twinkle little star, how I wonder what you are.

Bananas: Up above the world so high

Bananas: Like a diamond in the sky

Apples: Twinkle, twinkle little star, how I wonder what you are.

The melody is the same for both apples parts and both bananas parts.

I used the CD to try to tune the G string and could not get even close (still way to deep). When I got it within about 3/4 of the way to what the CD played, the string broke. What did I do wrong? This is a 4/4 violin. I am a VERY new owner/learner.

Make sure that you are tuning the correct string with the correct track on the CD. When you are tuning the fiddle, you start with the middle strings, then tune the outer strings. The CD plays the strings in that order: middle strings A & D, then outer strings G & E. Do not tune the strings higher in pitch than they are supposed to be. If it is not the problem, make sure that the correct strings are in the correct place on the fiddle. The G string should be the largest in diameter and the E string should be the smallest. 4/4 violin means that it is a full size violin.

Do you have any information/booklets, on how to properly tune a violin within your auction items? I have already broken one string (being a little heavy handed).

There is a page in each book that shows you how to tune your fiddle. The most important thing is to start below the pitch of the string and slowly bring the string into tune. Make sure you don't go above the proper pitch. The string will become too tight and break. Also, start with the middle strings. Tune the outside strings last.

How do you play backup fiddle?

Listen to the radio and recordings as much as possible. Try to imitate what you hear whether it be a fiddle, guitar or mandolin. Additionally, at a minimum learn your 1,4 and 5 chords in first position in the keys of g, a, b flat, c, d, e and f. Knowing the major scale in these keys is a must. After a while, venture into 2nd and 3rd positions. Playing backup fiddle is not only intuitive, but premeditated in the sense you are acutely aware of the chord progression and your melodic options.

I bought a very inexpensive fiddle, does the sound improve with a more expensive one or is it for looks? I am learning by myself and your cd for gospel was very good, that is why i purchased the other ones, but with a injured neck I cannot hold the fiddle the way I am supposed to, but I can do fairly well with the time I have spent in almost two months of playing, is there any items available for someone who has a weak neck, I do have the shoulder rest, but it is still very difficult for me to hold fiddle without a lot of pain. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

The sound does not improve necessarily by spending more money on an instrument. In general, more money means a higher grade wood, better graduations/specs., and a brand or name that will retain it's value when re-sold. Sometimes, but not always, an inexpensive fiddle may not be set up properly and therefore be difficult to play. A nice outfit normally costs at least $300. You can spend thousands of dollars on an instrument, but it is not necessary. I have played hundreds of fiddles in the $500 to $1800 price range that are incredible.

In terms of the pain...... 1. Listen to your body. If you are hurting, you should rest. 2. I would experiment with different shoulder rests and chinrests until you find a winning combination. 3. Most importantly, relax, relax, relax!

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