This class is for you if you’ve ever thought to yourself…
- “When other musicians try to talk to me about songs in terms their chord progressions, I just go blank. What am I supposed to do with that information?“
- “Why can’t I even google satisfying answers about chord stuff? All I’m finding is guys with guitars/pianos/whiteboards talking over my head and/or so abstractly that I still can’t retain or apply the info. How do I apply this stuff to the fiddle, so I can actually use it?”
- “I can’t even hear the chord changes to begin with. Why? Am I secretly bad at music?”
How I figured it out
Well, it took me over a decade of trial and error in jams and bands…
Not to mention a college music degree and hours spent laying in bed at night thinking about how my music theory classes applied to fiddle playing…
Not to mention working with hundreds of students, finding out what worked for them and what didn’t….
You shouldn’t have to do all that.
Most people aren’t in a position to put in that time, even if they were motivated to do it.
And: there’s no reason you should have to be as much of a nerd as I am to master chords and chord-based thinking on the fiddle!
I’ve worked 1:1 with sooooo many students on this specific issue. It doesn’t matter whether they’re beginners or have been playing for decades—ultimately they get frustrated around the chords thing.
Why aren’t there simple answers to simple questions, like “what do I play when it’s a C chord?” or “how do I know it’s time to play a C chord unless someone tells me?”
So about five years ago, I realized this was something I could create and offer—a quick-start system for chords on the fiddle. It started as a one-day workshop at Bellingham Folk School, turned into the popular Chords for Fiddlers Reference Guide, and now I’m offering it as a four-week online class.
It’s a low-theory approach that will get you participating on the same level as your guitar/banjo/piano/etc. friends as quickly as possible.
Now, I love music theory, and I teach a lot of it in other contexts. But in my experience, most adults get too hung up on the theory, thinking they need to be 100% fluent in all that before they can start playing.
You don’t. You can start now, with certain moveable finger shapes that follow predictable patterns.
All the additional layers of music theory, aesthetic choices about rhythm and register, etc. can build on this foundation…
…but without the foundation it’s just a lot of mind noise that doesn’t help you in the middle of a jam or band practice.
So let’s get you that foundation!
Chords for Fiddlers: 4-week online class
Oct 13 – Nov 3
11AM – 12PM Pacific Time*
*Not a good time for you? Or just tired of being on live Zoom calls? No worries! Recordings of each class will be available after the session, so you can follow along on your own schedule.
- Four 1-hr classes – a combo of lecture & (muted) play-along practice – attend live and/or watch the replays as many times as you like
- Homework audios & videos to guide your practice sessions (homework is optional, but recommended if you have time!)
- PDF reference guide so this stuff is always at your fingertips going forward
–cart is now closed–
We’ll take a three-prong approach to jump-starting your chord fluency:
- Your Ears (eartraining): increase your sensitivity to hearing and identifying the chord changes so you can play along
- Your Note Choices (voiceleading): identify finger shapes that flow in and out of each other smoothly (sounds best + easiest to play)
- Your Effortless Execution (muscle memory): practice the chords hands-on with different songs, to build 100% fluency connecting the chord you hear + the fingering that will make it happen
Knowing these patterns of finger shapes makes it much easier to quickly find the chords you need in order to be able to:
- accompany other musicians
- add double stops to your solos
- and do it well, no matter which key you’re in.
By identifying the underlying patterns (standard chord progressions, as well as finger shape patterns), there is SO SO SO much less to learn than if you just try to memorize a zillion ways to play a C chord!
We’re going to spend much of our time actually practicing this together. That way you start building neural pathways/muscle memory so your body knows the patterns forever. We want to reduce your reliance on the reference diagrams as quickly as possible.
We’ll also spend time practicing knowing which chord you need when you’re accompanying other musicians, or making your own arrangements of tunes.
–cart is now closed–
Is this really for me, though?
This class is suitable for of fiddlers/violinists of all levels, who want to feel more confident around chords. (If you’re not yet confident playing double stops, that will be one of the skills you’re working on alongside the rest of the material.)
This material is applicable to all genres of music that involve creating your own parts based on a chord structure—including (but not limited to) folk, rock, jazz, and pop.
>The time doesn’t work for me. Is there still a way for me to participate?
Yup! Every session will be recorded and uploaded to a password-protected page, so you can watch the replays and follow along on your own schedule.
>How is this even going to work as an online course where we can’t play together?
You’ll be muted while you play — and that’s a privacy many students actually prefer about online classes! And you’ll be able to hear me, so in that sense, we can play together.
I will also provide you with play-along tracks to simulate the jam experience during your mid-week practice sessions.
You’ll also get a copy of my Chords for Fiddlers Reference Guide, so you can easily refresh your memory anytime in the future by looking at simple diagrams.
>What if I fall behind on homework? Should I still come to class?
Yup! If you don’t have time to practice between sessions, you’ll still build the skills by showing up for class, albeit more slowly.
>I don’t know if I’m advanced enough to understand and integrate the material.
As long as you’ve been playing fiddle for at least a few months, you’ll probably be fine. If double stops (playing two strings at once) are new for you, this is a fantastic opportunity to work on the bow control for getting the sound you want, at the same time you’re learning the chords material. It’s a twofer!
>I wonder if I’m too advanced for this course to speak to where I’m at.
Even if you’re the concertmaster of a major symphony, if you don’t feel fluent playing off a chord chart or responding in real time to chords you hear in a jam, this course will help you move beyond theory to connect those wires in your mind and fingers.
>Why should I prioritize this now, given that I have no idea when I’ll be able to play with others due to the pandemic?
You actually have a unique opportunity right now. This is a great time to build fluency in jamming-related musical skills, without the pressure of being in a room with others. You can make mistakes without anyone hearing. You can play the same song over and over without having to ask anyone else to enjoy doing that. Etc.
By the time your social musicking world opens back up, you’ll have a lot to bring to the table that you didn’t before. And your friends won’t have heard the awkward phases in between while you were bringing your new skills online. :)
>OK, but it’s hard to prioritize this when the world is on fire.
Um, yeah. That is a super legitimate feeling, and if this isn’t the right timing for you based on other stuff in your life, I totally support you not taking on this project on top of everything else right at this moment.
But here’s a thought: we all need to protect space in our lives right now for stuff that helps us feel connected and empowered. Building a skill that is about your joy and your ability to connect positively with others is a balm that helps you feel more control and more positivity in the face of challenging world events.
–cart is now closed–
I can’t wait to share class with you!
Love, Kat :)