Fiddle Lessons

I have been teaching fiddle since 1990, and playing since I was six, in 1969! My specialties include Irish, Swedish, Norwegian, Contradance and Québécois fiddling. I also teach old-time, bluegrass and many other types of tunes, and nyckelharpa and Hardanger fiddle.

I teach mostly by ear, by rote and via recordings, but am happy to help people learn to read and write music as well. For beginners, the focus is on how to hold the instrument, make a good sound, play in tune, and learn to play a few tunes. For more advanced players, the focus is on building a repertoire of tunes in a particular style or styles, bow patterns, ornamentation, chords and harmonies, and playing with a good danceable rhythm.

Reviews of My Teaching

Group classes

I occasionally organize group classes of 3 to 6 students of similar interests and ability, on weekday evenings from 7pm-8:30pm. Classes are an efficient and fun way to learn and review tunes and learn to play with other people, while private lessons give us a chance to work on specific technical or musical goals or problems. A combination of both is ideal. Classes cost less than half the price per hour of private lessons. If you sign up with a friend or two, you make class formation more likely.

Scheduling

I teach year-round, weekday afternoons/evenings, and weekends mornings/afternoons. Lessons and classes take place in my home in downtown Ithaca. I occasionally offer bi-weekly lessons of 60 (or 90 or 120) minutes, especially to out-of-towners, but I find students make better progress with weekly lessons of 60 (or 45) minutes. Group classes are usually bi-weekly, alternating with lessons on the opposite weeks.

Our Mutual Commitment

When you sign up for lessons, you and I make a commitment to each other. I am committing to be a good teacher and help you learn what you want to learn efficiently, which involves getting to know your specific goals and particular learning style. This includes in-lesson time as well as time I put in outside the lesson to transcribe and learn tunes for you, make recordings to send to you, organize the annual student party, and keep you informed of opportunities to play and hear fiddle music. You are committing to show up for the whole session of lessons and classes, to keep your fiddle in good repair, and to play the fiddle in between lessons.

Making Progress

It's up to you how much you play, but the more you do, the better the experience is for both of us and the faster you'll learn. For beginners especially, even a few minutes of practice a day are more beneficial than cramming the day of your lesson. At any level of skill, with an hour of careful practice several times a week, you will make great progress. You will learn much faster if you also listen to fiddle music a lot and attend dances, festivals, concerts, and jam sessions. Listen in your car, while cooking, exercising and/or working. This is an aural tradition that can't be learned from books or just from me. Make it part of your life.
I throw an annual party for my fiddle students

Rates and Payment

The rate is $40 per hour, $32 per 45-minute private lesson, and $25 per 90-minute group class. Payment for 5 or 10 weeks is due a week before the lessons begin. I accept cash, checks, and can now take credit cards via paypal. Send your check to Laurie Hart, 243 Cliff St. Ithaca NY 14850.

Cancellations

Please call me at home, as far in advance as possible, if you can't make your lesson. The last two weeks of the 10-week session are make-up weeks for students who have missed one or two lessons/classes for any reason. Unfortunately I am unable to make up additional missed lessons. However, if I am sick or have an emergency, I will make up any lessons that I have missed. Lessons will occur in any weather short of a blizzard or ice storm (unless the sheriff says no unnecessary travel), even if public school is cancelled.

Directions to my home

My house at 243 Cliff St. Ithaca NY is an easy walk or bike ride from downtown, just off the bike path to Cass Park. It's also convenient to get here by public bus.
Driving directions: From downtown Ithaca, get on Buffalo St./Rt. 96 and head west toward the hospital. Cross both bridges over the Inlet (canal) and start up the hill (the name changes to Cliff St.). Pass about a dozen houses, the last of which is ours, and pull into the parking lot of Incodema, the big white machine shop building just up the hill from us on Cliff St/Rte. 96. (Parking at Incodema is OK despite the employees only sign, if after 4pm M-F, and anytime weekends. Best not attempt to park in our driveway, as it is difficult to back out on to Cliff St. without turning around, and our own car will be in the way.) Come through the gate to the back door.
Note: You can also park at the very end of Park Rd., the cul-de-sac below my house, and walk up the path and through the gates. The house is white, with a gray shed halfway down the hill. This is especially good for avoiding Rt 96's traffic or if Incodema's lot is full. Make sure to latch the gates so the deer don't eat our fruit trees and vineyard.