Fiddle Beginner Class - November 5th

November 5th 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. - $75

Please bring: violin, bow, rosin, pencil and notepad. Suggested: electronic tuner. All course materials will be provided, as well as a with a free, three-month membership to 

Class Description

  • Acquiring a Fine Instrument: How to select the right instrument for yourself.
  • The basics: Learn the parts of the violin, tune the violin. Neck and chin holds for comfort and posture. Using the shoulder rest and chin rest. Learn methods for staying comfortable and avoiding injury. Building up the pinky, optimizing the reach of the hand. 
  • The Bow: Learn about the bow and its mechanics, including speed, pressure, and various bow holds. How to rosin the bow, how to grip the bow. Pulling the bow with relaxed weight. Introduction to long sones, speed & weight.
  • Notes and rhythms: How to read tablature and treble clef notation, learning the basic rhythms and beats found in many fiddle tunes. Learning how to “swing” a tune.
  • Advanced Bowing and Left-Hand Techniques: Advanced bow strokes and playing techniques, such as double-stops, Nashville Shuffle, and Georgia Shuffle. How to blend shuffles into the melodic structure of a tune the best rhythmic blend. Making changes at the frog and the tip. playing triplets and 16th notes. Introduction to ricochet, spiccato, and sautillé bowing techniques. How to chop and play chords. 
  • Intonation: Perfect your intonation by training your ear to recognize sharp or flat notes. Techniques for staying in tune and for tuning with other musicians. Practicing with first-position major, minor, chromatic, and arpeggiated scales.
  • Vibrato, Color and Tone: Your vibrato is like your fingerprint. Learn how it can add richness, color, and emotion to your playing. How to produce musical “color” through bowing techniques, varying dynamics, and shifting.
  • Playing Different Styles: Exploration of Bluegrass, Old-Time, Country, and Celtic styles of fiddling. Playing each style with respect and originality. Learn the distinguishing characteristics of a reel, waltz, breakdown, hornpipe, jig, march, etc. 
  • Improvisation and ornamentation: Combining scales, melody, and licks to produce an improvised break. Playing trills, glissando, slides, doubles, mordents, hammer-on and pull-off, flexing the timing in order to give the tune a sense of emotion and originality. Learning basic and typical modes chord structures, and how to improvise tastefully and within the appropriate style of the tune.
  • The Performance Mindset: From overcoming anxiety to achieving total focus, tips for performing for a live audience. How to use a microphone.
  • Practice Essentials: Practice is an essential part of growing as a violinist. Learn methods of practicing that help improve technical ability. Practicing with a metronome.
  • Collaboration: From communicating with other jam participants to finding balance within a band. Learning how to take breaks and fill gaps while being respectful and considerate of other musicians. The day will end in a jam session with students from the other master classes.

Dr. John Cockman, Jr.

John teaches fiddle online at and also provides a free fiddle workshop in Blowing Rock, NC each Tuesday evening during the summer to some fifty children and others. John teaches physics at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina. He and his wife Jennifer have three daughters, Arwen, Lorien, and Morgen, and one son, Daniel. 
After becoming a master of Bluegrass, Gospel, Old Time, Celtic, Country and Cajun fiddling, John discovered that he gets the most joy from teaching others to play the music he loves.

Over the past 20 years, he has systematically developed an intuitive teaching style that gets immediate results. With a combination of tablature, notation, measure-by-measure instruction, and metronome playback, John has helped thousands of students reach their goal of jamming and performing on what he believes is the greatest instrument ever created.

How to define your student level?

Unlike a novice, who has never touched an instrument before, a beginner has just begun and has very basic knowledge of an instrument. 

Here is the definition of a beginner level: (Age does not matter)

  1. Ability to bow basic notes but may not really know what to do with them. 

  2. No music theory or music reading skills are required whatsoever!  

  3. Should know basic finger placements.  

  4. Should be able to bow and change notes slowly and steadily. 

  5. Should know 2 to 12 simple songs, playing them by using single notes. 

  6. A knowledge of reading tablature is great, but not necessary. 

  7. Should be able to tune their instrument with a tuner, know which string is which (first, second, etc) and the names of the strings.