My son (7) plays the violin, and has been doing so since he was 4. He does enjoy it but lately his interest has started to wain. He has an interest in bluegrass, and Celtic music; most of which has a fiddle part. I am wondering what is the best way to have him start playing the fiddle?

His current teacher uses the Suzuki method and is very good at what she does, but she only knows classical violin. That means we would have to do this at home. I do not play a string instrument, but can read music, and often help him with his lessons.

  • This may be a stupid question, but what is the difference? It's the same instrument, it should be the same techniques right? Just different songs? – Lennart Regebro May 11 '11 at 5:39
  • @Lennart Not really the same thing. There are different bow methods, the instrument is tuned to a different pitch, the actual music differs as well. Most classical music is sharp, bluegrass and the like is sloppy, when compared. Andrés Segovia and Eric Clapton, both excellent guitar players. Completely different results. Thanks for the comment. – Chad May 11 '11 at 17:25
  • Well, that's to a large extent because it's different instruments. ;) But OK, I didn't know the tuning was different. – Lennart Regebro May 11 '11 at 19:01

Are there any friendly bluegrass groups that would welcome a 7 year old coming to play along? I started drums in a local friendly brass band at about 8 and am still playing now, in many styles.

  • That is an excellent suggestion. I had not thought to do that. There are some bluegrass players that come to our farmers market I will make it a point to ask them. – Chad May 11 '11 at 17:38

My wife is a Suzuki violin teacher and had the following response:

First of all, I would encourage you to talk to your teacher about your child's interest and consider something like a summer "fiddle camp". Some Suzuki summer institutes include optional fiddle classes for students who have reached an appropriate level of playing (usually end of Suzuki Book 1, something like that). Mark O'Connor (a fantastic fiddler) runs fiddle camps around the country for kids, and he has also developed a beginning fiddle method that could be great supplementary material for Suzuki.

Traditional fiddling and classical Suzuki can be very complementary, and being able to do one can really improve your ability in the other. I would encourage my own students to do both if they were interested. An important thing is to not alienate your current Suzuki teacher and involve her in the decision process, since she is your primary music instructor.

  • Thanks for the comment, it is good to hear what another Suzuki instructor has to say. We have mentioned this to her, but she only does classical, and that is fine with us. She encouraged us to pursue the endeavor. We are also geographically limited when it comes to camps and such. Just one of those things I guess. Does you wife have a recommendation on a beginning fiddle book? My son is almost to the end of the Suzuki I book, just a few songs left. – Chad May 13 '11 at 15:35

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