There’s a ton of resources out there on the web to help you learn oldtime fiddle. This is a compilation of various places you might want to investigate on your fiddle journey. The list is intended to grow over time, so if you know of others, then please let us know at Oldtime Central so we can add them.
1Sammy Lind Teaches Old Time Fiddle Tunes, DVDs
Sammy Lind, of Foghorn Stringband fame, is a great fiddler with some great tune lessons. In this case they’re 6 beginner tunes and 10 advanced tunes on two DVDs. For each tune he plays it solo up to speed, then breaks down the melody and bowing slowly for each part, and then plays it up to speed again with Nadine Landry on guitar.
Especially the beginner DVD is a great place for new fiddlers to start because the versions are quite manageable and Sammy does a good job of breaking them down. Cost: $27 each
2Fiddle for All
Online video course for oldtime fiddle by the wonderful Adam Hurt using Josh Turnkett’s Brainjo teaching method. The course is suitable for all from rank beginners to intermediate players, leading students carefully, step-by-step through everything they need to know to play solid oldtime fiddle. Special emphasis on the nuances of bowing. Monthly subscription.
3David Bragger’s YouTube Channel
For many years David Bragger posted great, detailed lessons of classic oldtime fiddle tunes. Currently there are about 40 tunes you can learn from his YouTube channel. Excellent instruction for free!
4Brad Leftwich Learn to Play Old-Time Fiddle, DVDs
Brad Leftwich is a great oldtime fiddler who recorded two DVDs with Homespun in the late 1990s. The first video is great for beginners. Leftwich teaches a set of basic bow patterns that get repeated use throughout the tunes taught. Every tune is also played up to speed with banjo uke accompaniment by Linda Higginbotham, so you can hear what the tune sounds like with chords. The second DVD follows very directly in the footstep of the first in terms of structure, clarity of teaching, and pedagogical thoroughness while covering more advanced bowing licks and tunes. Cost: $30 each DVD or $25 for a digital download
Tons of great videos teaching tunes, showing points of technique, scales, and much more. This material is suited to beginner and intermediate students. Thousands of subscribers, updated regularly. Check it out! Free and paid content.
If you’re going to play oldtime fiddle, then you’ve got to know Slippery Hill. The website is now the largest audio archive of oldtime source recordings on the web. Slippery Hill is the place to go to hear as many versions of a given tune as is legally and practically possible.
Oldtime involves a whole lot of listening, and the more you can listen to skilled, experienced musicians, the better. Slippery Hill is by far the best place to find the whole wealth of tunes that oldtime has to offer. And all that for free!
7Rex McGee’s YouTube Lessons
Rex McGee is best known as a leading player of 3-finger banjo, but is also a great fiddle player. On his YouTube channel, the North Carolina fiddler plays over 40 classic oldtime tunes using a camera angle that gives especially good view of the left hand. Free
Bluegrass Daddy is a bit of a misnomer. On his website, fiddler John Cockman teaches a variety of fiddle styles including oldtime. The paid video lessons include jam tracks, tablature and standard notation, and more to learn the tunes.
His YouTube channel has over 70 free video lessons, if you want to get a taste of how John teaches.
Monthly, yearly, or lifetime subscriptions. Free and paid content.
If you’re looking for a full-on course in oldtime fiddle, then Bruce Molsky’s course on Peghead nation is hard to beat. Bruce has dozens of great, detailed videos – with transcriptions and play-along tracks – covering better and lesser known oldtime classics. Fiddler Chad Manning also has a course aimed at complete beginners which is a great place to start for those who are new to oldtime and the fiddle. Monthly subscription.
10Old-Time Fiddle for the Complete Ignoramus, Wayne Erbsen book + CD
If books are more your thing and you consider yourself a rank beginner, then there’s nowhere better to start that Wayne Erbsen’s book Old-Time Fiddle for the Complete Ignoramus. Wayne’s book really does start right at the beginning with the very basics: what oldtime is, how to choose a fiddle, how to hold it, etc. Then the majority of the book is devoted to very simple versions of classic oldtime tunes and songs. For beginners, these simple versions – present both in musical notation and tablature – are a great place to start. Cost: $23
Another online course worthy of attention is that of Darol Anger on the ArtistWorks platform. Darol teaches the entire spectrum of levels and techniques as related to fiddle styles focussing primarily on bluegrass, but also going into oldtime, blues, and jazz. The course videos beginner from the very start, so beginners would get a great foundation here and the ArtistWorks platform is unique due to the ability to send videos to Darol and get feedback. 3, 6, and 12 month subscriptions.
12Andy Fitzgibbon’s YouTube videos
Well known oldtime fiddler Andy Fitzgibbon’s gave a workshop at the Cowan Creek Mountain Music School in 2014 focusing largely on Kentucky fiddlers Luther Strong and William Stepp. He kindly recorded videos of some of the tunes taught that week and posted them on YouTube. Fitzgibbon is a great fiddler and easy to learn from. He plays each tune once at speed and then again slowed down. Free
13Chris Carney’s YouTube videos
Chris Carney is an oldtime fiddler from northern California who has been diligently adding fiddle lessons to his YouTube page for a decade! Many dozens of tunes are there for the learning. Check ’em out. Free
14Erynn Marshall and Carl Jones’ YouTube videos
Since 2017 acclaimed fiddler Erynn Marshall has been posting lessons of oldtime tunes on the YouTube page she share with guitar player Carl Jones. There are only a few lessons so far, but they’re good. Free
15Michael Ismerio’s YouTube videos
Currently only 15 videos dedicated to oldtime fiddle, Michael Ismerio’s YouTube lessons go into the detail of bowing in a way that is hard to find elsewhere. If you want to learn any of these tunes, it’s a great place to go and if you’re learning the unique bow movements found in oldtime, well worth a look. Free
While there are several places to find notation of oldtime tunes, the best is currently Tater Joes, the site of fiddler Mark Wardenburg, with close to 600 transcriptions of oldtime tunes. Mark’s transcriptions are very good, he’s constantly adding new ones, and for many tunes he provides versions from different fiddlers. Free
17Charlie Walden – midwest fiddle tunes
Charlie Walden is a leading proponent of Midwest fiddling both in performance and teaching. He’s got a great YouTube Channel with dozens of lessons and a huge collection of transcriptions as well (300+). Free or donation.
18Rayna Gellert videos
Rayna Gellert is a wonderful musician oldtime fiddler who has posted some of the best free lesson videos the Internet has to offer. Currently, Rayna has 36 videos mostly of prominent oldtime tunes. The videos are shot very well, it’s easy to see what she’s doing with both hands, and Rayna is a very clean, consistent player with great intonation, so there’s nothing to confuse someone trying to learn a tune. Free
19Marius Stewart on Krakra.eu
Marius is another great oldtime fiddler player in Frankfurt, Germany. He and his partner-in-crime, Lars Dahl, have been quietly building a website with some very helpful learning resources. They’ve only recently gotten started, so keep looking back for me. For now, check out some of his great tune lessons.