By: Hannah Nagel, Minnesota Conservatory for the Arts Violin Instructor

Is there a difference between a violin and a fiddle? As a violinist and a fiddle player, I get this question all the time. Thank goodness, no! For example, let’s say Saturday afternoon I have an orchestra concert. Sunday I am up bright and early to play violin in my local church service, then I teach private lessons in the afternoon. Monday is quartet rehearsal, toss in a couple of orchestra rehearsals during the week, a duet project and add a Friday night fiddle session with friends. When I started playing the violin, no one warned me that it would slowly take over my social life! Imagine if I needed a different instrument for each event!

In fact, the reason I love the violin is because I can play so many different kinds of music on my one instrument! The real difference is in the style of music, the technique and the learning methods. While classical music is written out in measures and notes, fiddle music is best learned by ear, by listening carefully to phrases and repeating them until they match the original. Like classical music, lots of practice is key to making progress. As in instructor I always teach my students both methods. Learning by ear is certainly not easy and can feel slow and painstaking, but the reward is always worth the time. Students get a chance to learn entire songs from memory, improve pitch and listening skills. At the same time, they get out of a lesson book, channeling their attention to their fingers and posture. Perhaps the best benefit is the delight in their eyes when, after a few weeks of hard practice, we can fiddle our way of melodies and harmonies without a second thought.

Are you interested in learning to play the violin? Minnesota Conservatory for the Arts of Winona, MN is accepting new students in violin and other instruments for students of all ages. For more information call: 507-453-5500 or email: mca@smumn.edu today!

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