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Wonderful Fiddling/Improv Methods to use with students

Laura Dalbey

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Published: October 28, 2014 at 3:24 AM [UTC]

After reading a recent discussion about a currently debated fiddle/improv method, I thought I'd add a couple of options to the list, since there really are many different excellent methods to use with students these days :) :). My students have been loving Martin Norgaard's "Jazz Fiddle Wizard" series. I think it is probably most appropriate for middle school aged students at the Suzuki book 4/5 level. The books really take them through some ways of thinking about improvising and then give them ample opportunities to use their new skills. A couple of my Suzuki-raised students are incredible improvisers - especially good at hearing the chord changes and creating rhythmic variety in their improvs.
Another series I have fallen in love with is "The American Fiddle Method" by Brian Wicklund. Full of classic standards, these books follow a very Suzuki Friendly sequence, include the background and words that come with each tune, chord changes, a CD with a professional level bluegrass band playing the tunes, and plenty of ways to teach students the extras (like chopping, etc). My students LOVE these books. And so do I :)

From Michael Fox
Posted on October 28, 2014 at 3:45 AM
Those are both really great methods, I use them all the time. You might be interesting in knowing that Martin also put out a "Jazz Fiddle Wizard Junior" (books 1 and 2) that is significantly easier - I think those two books might be my favorite way to introduce the concept of improvisation to almost anyone.
From Laura Dalbey
Posted on October 28, 2014 at 11:51 AM
Thanks Michael - Yes, I should have clarified that it is the Jazz Fiddle Wizard Junior series I've been using. The regular book might be a bit complicated for most of my middle school aged students.

Posted on October 28, 2014 at 6:21 PM
What do you think about Mel Bay's "Jazz Fiddle Wizard". Are you familiar with it? I have a fiddling background and this was the one I picked up from the music store because it seemed pretty comprehensive.
From Laura Dalbey
Posted on October 29, 2014 at 12:21 AM
I think the Jazz Fiddle Wizard that I am talking about is published by Mel Bay. We are talking about the same book. And yes, I love it :)

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