Why 100 Fiddle Tunes

About 100 FiddleTunes

This is an update [June 7, 2016]for the original page I wrote to introduce this music blog. The original article is just below, with a few editorial notes. Since my intention has changed a little bit, it’s good to renew my commitment.

Fiddle Tab vs Music Notation

Why tab? I use fiddle tab in my personal one on one teaching. It works well for beginners. Time after time I’ve started a beginning student on the violin, or fiddle. They take to tab charts almost as soon as they are placed in front of them.

Not that I’m against music notation. It’s a super useful skill even for a fiddler. But, let’s allow beginners to learn a few tunes before subjecting them to the difficulty of learning music notation. Typically, I use the Suzuki tunes in tab and then transition to Suzuki Book One for the music notation.

Why 100 Fiddle Tunes?

That accounts for the tab. What about the 100? One hundred of anything is a lot. It’s a powerful number. By the time you know and can play 100 fiddle tunes, you have been at it for years as a serious student. Some time back I published an account of how I played 100 fiddle tunes 100 times. Just browsing this many tunes offers a great number of tunes to select  set of 15 from.

Looking at the Directory, you can see that there have not been 100 fiddle tunes published here. It is still my goal. My personal list has over 300 tunes. I’m choosing from that list.

And, yes, I’m still learning new tunes. My most recent acquisition is President Garfield’s Hornpipe. I’m still enjoying its newness, as well as the quirky B part.

My intention now is to create tutorials for learning to play fiddle. Starting with beginner tunes and technique, I plan to go forward into more intermediate tunes and skills. If you would like to be kept up to date on this aspect of the project, be sure to register in the green sign up box.

There are a few more hoops I need to jump through to get to where I’m ready to post tutorials. Namely, setting up a membership site. I lost some time trying to use InstaMember. Now I’m trying S2Member. It looks like their support is slightly better.

What I Originally Wrote

If you saw the movie, Julie & Julia, and I recommend it, you saw the story of two inspiring motivations for success.

I have two inspirational hits from this film. One is the inspiration of Julia Childs. She was unfocused until she enrolled in Cordon Bleu to learn to cook French cuisine. That was the pivotal action of her life.

We all need some pivot to turn from just plugging along to really making a song out of our life. (Or a fiddle tune.) You’ve heard of “find your passion.” Julia Childs found hers. Everything followed from that.

The second inspiration is Julie Powell’s goal-intention-project of preparing all the recipes in Julia’s book in one year’s time and blogging about it. The ambitious, but doable project and the one year time constraint act as a wonderful motivational goad.

I did this a few years ago when I set out to play one hundred different tunes one hundred times each. [Mentioned above with a link to the appropriate article} To devote this much time to a tune about twice a week was a stretch, but not completely crazy. It raised my level of playing.

I’m choosing a similar project, but not to be done in one  year. [At this writing, I had no idea of how long this would take.] As you can see, the tunes are being published in tab fiddle format.

Since I am an improvising fiddler, the published version can only be a temporary snapshot of how I might play them in performance. [Now I can claim to be consistent in playing these tunes the same way when I teach them. It has taken time and discipline to be able to do this.]

Allow me to share a comment that came in after I got started:

This is great!  I decided around Thanksgiving that I would like to learn to fiddle.  I was lucky enough to have a friend who lent me their violin (as it was sitting in their closet collecting dust).  And now, thanks to your post, I have played my second song ever! 🙂

I love your tab style, it is very easy to read.  I was wondering if you could tell me which of your songs might be easier for a beginner to pick up?  I have already picked out Red River Valley and Amazing Grace because I know their tunes quite well.

Thanks so much.  Good luck completing your goal!  Nate



    • michael
    • February 2, 2010

    Stay with tabs. It’s better for novices, like myself, who really benefit from your teaching. Are you adding mp3’s?

      • admin
      • February 3, 2010

      Yes, mp3’s are going to show up. I’m thinking about your preference for tab. Only the tunes that go seriously into 3rd position my not be appropriate. Thanks for the feed back.

    • Jenn
    • March 13, 2010

    as a novice I am much better at reading notes for the violin. Tab always confuses me on the fiddle….I do read tab (and notes) for the guitar as well as the mandolin so its not that. I just think notes make more sense

      • admin
      • March 14, 2010

      I hear that occasionally. Most beginning fiddlers just want to play tunes.
      The shortest distance to this goal is on the tab path.
      As the beginner gets more ability, reading music becomes
      a worthwhile skill to master.

    • Kay Steele
    • September 26, 2013

    I was looking for fiddle tabs for Jer the Rigger and haven’t been able to find them.

    1. Reply

      I don’t know this tune. I would look at http://www.thesession.org for this tune.

    • Catherine
    • September 22, 2014

    I am looking for fiddle tab for Galway Girl by Steve Earl. Do you know where I might find it?
    Thank you and I sure have enjoyed going through your site.

      • Elan
      • November 2, 2014

      Don’t know this one. Try thesession.org.

    • Sherie
    • July 15, 2015

    Hi, could you explain the symbols on the tabs? On Shady Grove, there are straight lines and then two lines together in the shape of a U. Then there are circles around certain numbers representing where the fingers are to be placed.


    • Cristie Amaral
    • January 15, 2018

    I took lessons a few years back and she taught me in tab which is super nice because you can start playing right away. I can read music but reading music and figuring out what note to play on my violin is another matter entirely. I just put the fingerless fret on my violin and their sheet music shows the notes and the finger locations and I’m hoping this will help. Do you have any words of wisdom for me. I’m not finding a bunch of violin tab and I want to learn more country music. 🙂

      • Elan
      • February 20, 2018

      Going from anything on a sheet of paper to playing the fiddle is a decoding experience, no matter what the paper has on it. The tab I use has proven to be easiest to use by beginners. When they get into the intermediate zone, I start with music notation.

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