Ability Level Guide

In order to help you to assess which Level workshops to join, we have provided a guide to the different levels below. These aren’t prescriptive, but aim to help you get the most out of each workshop and to reduce any frustration from not being the most suitable class. As the levels increase, there is some increase in the complexity of the material taught, and also in the speed at which it is covered. If you have any concerns about which level is right for you after reading the sections below, please get in touch.

Current NEFS workshops are for improving fiddle players, and are not suitable for absolute beginners (as face to face tuition is so important at this stage). We aim to introduce tunes that are accessible for a wide range of players for the melody and bowing suggestions (from Level 2, those able to play a simple tune steadily – see the Ability Level Guide for reference). We explore the tunes in greater stylistic detail and with suggestions for ornamentation for Level 3 players.

Level 2
For our Level 2 classes you will be familiar with basic tune forms (waltzes, jigs, hornpipes, polkas and reels) and will already be able to play simple tunes at a steady tempo in these different styles. Tunes will generally be in keys with signatures of no flats/sharps, 1 sharp or 2 sharps. You might be developing an interest in bowing styles and interpretation of the repertoire.

Level 3
Level 3 classes are aimed at proficient fiddle players who are comfortable with playing tunes in the common dance forms. You will be aware of ornamentation and bowing patterns and aspire to incorporate them more fully into your playing. Repertoire will include tunes in keys with signatures between one flat and 3 sharps.

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Levels 1 and 4 ran for our NEFS Virtual Summer School in both 2020 and 2021:

Level 1
To get the most out of Level 1 fiddle classes you will be familiar with the basics of the instrument – how to hold the violin and the bow. You will have some rudimentary reading and/or aural skills, be familiar with open strings and the basic finger positions to produce a one octave scale of G, D and A major as well as a two octave scale of G major. You may not have an in depth knowledge of fiddle music, but will aspire to acquire a core beginner’s folk repertoire.

Level 4
These classes are aimed at those who are familiar with tunes from a wide range of dance forms, including some from outside of the British Isles, and who are able to play them at dance tempo. You will be comfortable in keys of 2 flats to 3 sharps, and familiar with 3 flats and 4 sharps. You will be aware of bowing patterns appropriate to different grooves and able to work comfortably either from notation or by ear, and be able to manage in the other medium.

Not currently running: Absolute Beginners rely much more on face to face interaction during these early stages. If you are keen to continue your fiddle studies, we highly recommend online 1-1 lessons. Please get in touch if you would like contact details for our tutors to enquire about availability.

Absolute Beginners
This is a five week course aimed at those who have not played a violin before. It will give a basic introduction to holding the instrument and playing traditional fiddle. It will introduce bow hold, open strings and your first hand frames, enabling you to have a go at your first tunes. You will need to bring a violin with you for this course, but do get in touch if you would like assistance with sourcing an instrument. Places are limited, so please get in touch to reserve your place in advance.