about Doug's instructional style and fiddletab system
has been immersed in southern old-time fiddle styles since 1990,
when he began making regular pilgrimages to stringband music festivals
in the southeast US. He has been inspired and mentored by a number
of the best "revivalist" masters of the instrument,
and has developed a deep appreciation for the subtle intricacies
of their playing, especially in their bowing. A founding member
of several stringbands in Lawrence, KS, Doug hosts barn dances
and occasionally plays fiddle in dance bands.
insights from his own learning process to help keep his fiddle
students motivated and productive. He strives to help beginning
and intermediate players avoid the pitfalls and ruts that plagued
his own early playing, so they can learn how to listen and "learn
how to learn," hopefully providing a shortcut to the path
that leads to efficient life-long progress. He disagrees with
the way beginners are commonly taught, and intentionally avoids
emphasis on the basic shuffle which can actually interfere with
one's future assimilation of advanced old-time bowing. He knows
from hard experience that it is much easier to learn good habits
early on than to break bad habits later, and this knowledge informs
and enhances his teaching.
is less about holding up his own playing as an example for students
to learn as it is about teaching how to scrutinize, understand
and apply the intricasies inherent in the playing of advanced
old-time musicians. He evaluates where each student is in their
old-time musical development, and adapts his instruction to the
task of helping them discover and apply the techniques that produce
the sounds that inspire them but seem to be just out of reach.
students, Doug teaches advanced techniques with emphasis on bowing
patterns, rhythmic emphasis, melodic ornamentation, and advanced
tunings. His detailed approach helps the student both hear and
assimilate subtle but important details in the playing of the
masters, and of course, helps them recognize and eliminate bad
is mainly interested in teaching how to play by ear, his instruction
includes written notation that plays a powerful role when one
is learning a new tune or "burning" a new technique
into one's nervous system. Initially for his own learning and
reference, he developed a notation system that captures on paper
not just melodies but more importantly the intracacies of technique
that make a tune's performance compelling and true to the desired
style. Doug believes that the standard "black dot" form
of musical notation (needed for orchestral use but not for fiddle
music) puts unnecessary layers of translation and interpolation
between the player and playing music. His "fiddletab"
system cuts out the added complexity, offers a much more direct
and accessible path from paper to music, and is especially well-suited
to those who can't or don't wish to read the black dot system.
Doug's fiddletab library can be found at www.brushyrun.farm/oldtimefiddle,
and is offered without charge.