traditional fiddle tuition
  Telephone 0114 232 0421. e-mail
What do I get out of it?...
The learning method
Do I need to be able to read music?
I'm worried I have no ear for music
Do I need to own a violin first?
Will I need to practice a lot?
Will it interfere with learning other styles?
I've had classical lessons - what can traditional lessons do for me?
Where do I go for lessons?
How much is it?
About Cath James
Contact details
skyhook archived website

What you get out of it - an accessible, lifelong pleasure
Making music on an instrument is a skill and a pleasure that most of us aspire to. But many people are put off because they see music as intellectually awkward or they lack confidence in their aptitude for it.

Learning traditional fiddle can bring out the music in you without theory and technicalities. It works in the same simple, effective way that you've absorbed the music that you already enjoy, and learnt language as a baby - by listening and repeating. It is all about playing and exploring memorable tunes, without needing textbooks, in the way it has been learnt for centuries.

The fiddle music of the Celtic traditions is both a musical treasure trove and a living tradition that brings pleasure not just through recordings or books but through participation.It is music you can enjoy for the rest of your life, whatever level you play at.

And it's a versatile enough medium to allow you to
• play alone or with friends at sessions and festivals
• play for dancing as well as listening
• produce music that stands up in its own right without a need for accompaniment
• take part in ensemble playing to get the excitement of massed music-making.
• enjoy developing skills that can let you explore other musical styles
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The learning method - listening and repeating
The beauty of traditional fiddle as a way to start learning music is that the method does not rely on music theory or formalities that can get in the way of the pleasure of playing.

I teach traditional fiddle emphasising learning tunes and technique through listening and sympathetic instruction. You will progress through a step by step programme of tunes, playing and enjoying accessible and recognisable melodies all along the way.

The music is drawn mainly from the traditions of Ireland, Scotland, England and Cape Breton Island (Nova Scotia).
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Do I need to read music?
Reading music and music theory can be useful tools but they've never been a necessary part of traditional music. If you read music or want to that's no problem - but the method I use doesn't need it.

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What if I worry I have no ear for music?
Some people have been encouraged from an early age to believe they have no ear for music. But it is really a question of getting the right environment and encouragement.

Having taught people of all ages, backgrounds and levels of confidence I've yet to find anyone who can't learn, given the right approach, to enjoy and explore music at their own pace.
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Do I need to own an instrument first?
I have a few instruments which may be hired from me by prior arrangement, so you can see if you feel comfortable with the fiddle. It's 30 for 3 months hire.
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Will I need to practice a lot?
As soon as practice becomes pleasurable most people find they can spare 20 minutes a day. It's easier with traditional music because you will be playing enjoyable, recognisable tunes very early.
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Will learning traditional fiddle make it hard to explore other styles if I want to?
The fundamental instrumental techniques for good classical violin and good traditional fiddle are very similar. The way I teach still emphasises basic good technique of posture, timing, and sound production. So starting off on traditional fiddle won't cause any problems if students later want to play in other styles.

I've also had lessons in the Alexander Technique so I'll be constantly looking out for any signs of tension which can in time cause pain and RSI (repetitive strain injury).
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I've had classical violin lessons, what can these lessons offer me?
Traditional fiddle music can revitalise a player because it provides a possibilities of playing in sessions with friends without the formalities of orchestral playing.

You will probably need to reconsider some aspects of style, particularly in the bowing, and be prepared to risk putting away the sheet music and learning in a more direct way, picking up nuances by listening.

This can be a major issue for classically trained players, but it's not as daunting a task as you may believe, and it's a skill well worth acquiring... I know that only because I've been through it too!
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Where do I go for lessons?
Walkley, Sheffield S6
I teach during Sheffield's school term dates - daytimes and evenings, weekdays except Fridays.
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How much is it?
45 minute lesson 31 (over 16's) 30 minute lesson 21 (under 16's), weekly or fortnightly - please note that a weekly lesson will be needed at beginner level
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About Cath James
• traditional fiddle private tutor to students of all ages, since 1994
• traditional peripatetic folk fiddle teacher at primary and secondary level
in Sheffield, Derbyshire and Rotherham (1994 - 2011)
• musical director & arranger for South Riding Folk Network youth band The Harlequinettes (1998 - 2005).
Roger the Badger ceilidh band since 1990
See for more information
• skyhook - highly acclaimed traditional acoustic trio.
See archived skyhook website for more information

• Certificate of Teaching (Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music)
• BBC Radio 2 Young Tradition Award finalist (1995)
• Grade VIII violin
• Grade VII music theory
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Call 0114 232 0421
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