Old Time Music
Online Video Lessons
Private Fiddle Lessons
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” The Secret to Old Time Fiddle Playing That Hardly Anyone Is Talking about”
Are you wanting to be a more rockin’ fiddler? Are you wanting to sound more “traditional” or “authentic”? Are you wanting to jam more easily with others?
I played fiddle for 5 years before anyone pointed out bowing and rhythm to me. I had no idea I was supposed to be paying attention to my right hand and I struggled because of it. I never knew if my bow would end on the upstroke or the down. It didn’t sound good to me. When someone finally mentioned something about bowing it changed everything for me. I went from struggling to rockin’ in no time at all.
And it motivated me to create the teaching program that I wish people would have offered me when I picked up the fiddle 20 years ago.
I have designed a unique teaching approach focusing on using memory aid techniques, the language of bowing, and an understanding of how humans learn best, to teach the foundational rhythms that make old time music so energetic and exciting.
Check out the video below to learn more about my teaching technique!
And don’t just believe me:
“Michael’s classes and lessons have been life-changing for me. He introduced me to old-time fiddling and broke down the intricate rhythmic bowing patterns which are so essential to getting the correct sound. It provided me with the foundation I needed to be able to jam. He makes it very easy to learn!” – Julie
“When i stepped into my first fiddle lesson with Michael, i had no idea that I’d go home that night and be able to play a tune. He is patient, intentional, and thoughtful. His approach to teaching bowing is exactly the foundation needed to not only learn his curriculum, but also to pursue further self guided exploration. He is an excellent fiddle teacher, and I’d recommend him to anyone!.”- Shane
“Wonderful fiddle teacher! His approach to the complexities of bowing Appalachian Old Time tunes makes it simple, accessible, and easy to learn. Very highly recommended!” – Cliff
“He is an excellent teacher with many years of experience…so glad he is online!! What a treasure!” – Jean
Whether you are itching to get started with your first fiddle lesson, or have been at it for decades and hit a wall in your progress, I can get you started on a path to more rhythmic playing and way more fun jamming!
Private Fiddle Lessons
Although I am based in Asheville, North Carolina, I teach students all over the world thru online fiddle lessons as well as in person locally. I created my instructional video lessons precisely to make it easier to teach online. Everything you need to hear and see is already professionally filmed, edited, and included in my videos, so no need to record content via streaming internet or waste valuable lesson time fussing with ever changing digital technologies.
And, as private fiddle students you gain access to my instructional fiddle videos at no extra cost.
Private lessons allow me to assess your exact skill level, patterns, and learning challenges. When It comes to bowing the main challenge that I see with beginners is that they don’t notice when they have changed their bowing. I can watch your bowing and assess where you have strayed off course.
Lessons are typically delivered in 1 hour sessions whether online or in person. For online lessons, we’ll use Zoom and work together to understand what you learned from the videos. If you live near Asheville, or are visiting the area, I teach out of a convenient private space in West Asheville.
The Art of Bowing Online Video Series
I’ve created a full step by step course of 40 fiddle video lessons that will guide you through the richness and complexity of old time bowing. And there are many more videos on the way.
If private lessons are not realistic for you this video series might be exactly what you need. You can go at your own pace and watch the lessons again and again.
Bowing is at the center of these lessons and at the center of Old Time Music. Bowing and rhythm are what sets Old Time Music apart from other styles of traditional music. I have had students who fiddled for 30 years but never consciously thought about bowing. And, of course, if you are new to Old Time fiddle than bowing is THE perfect place to start. It’s essential.
You can purchase the videos in lesson packs of 5 videos each. However, for the best value, our All Access Pass gets you lifetime access to all current and future instructional fiddle lesson videos.
Read more below, or check out our Free Sample Course which includes three instructional fiddle videos of different skill levels.
Why Begin in Cross G tuning?
Many people come to me with a background in classical or bluegrass music where they have played exclusively in what is known as Standard Tuning (GDae). Southern Appalachian fiddlers often played in alternate “open” tunings. I have consciously chosen to start my students in one of these alternate tunings, Cross G (GDgd), for the following reasons:
- Tone– Cross G tuning reduces string tension on the fiddle giving the instrument a quieter, warmer tone. For a beginning student volume is not a necessity but decent tone is. Nothing discourages practicing like a shrill instrument. Cross G instantly gives the student a leg up in the tone department until they can learn to create good tone in all tunings.
- Bow Control- As a beginning fiddler you are learning the art of bow control, how to hit the correct string with the correct pressure at the correct time to make the desired sound. In standard tuning hitting a wrong string at the wrong time can lead to discouraging amounts of discord. In an open tuning like Cross G, all the open strings become encouraging harmonic drones rather than discouraging wrong notes. And it allows us to focus our initial energy on getting your bowing muscle memory built up without constantly worrying about wrong notes. In time you will gain control of your bow and then have no problem switching to other tunings that require more bow control.
- Cultural Fluency– Fiddlers in the south played in alternate tunings, that is a fact. So if your goal is to sound like a southern fiddler the easiest way to do so is to play in the tunings that they themselves played in. I’ve heard it said that the open drones of old time fiddling were an attempt to imitate the sounds made by bagpipes. It makes sense to me!
- The gravitational pull of Standard Tuning– But why not start in Standard Tuning and then switch to alternate tunings? Well, because my experience has shown me that there is a lot of societal musical pressure to be in Standard Tuning. When my students start in Cross G, there are infinite amounts of musical situations that pull them back to Standard Tuning. But, conversely, the more comfortable people become in Standard Tuning, the less willing they are to branch out and experiment with alternate tunings.
- Fun and Easy! – Alternate Tunings are really fun, cool sounding, satisfying, and in many ways easier than Standard Tuning! In this course we will learn many different tunings: GDgd, ADae, AEae, GDad, AEac# as well as Standard Tuning GDae.
Not convinced but still interested in learning from me?
Send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we can figure out a learning pathway that works for you.
Fiddle Video Options
The Art of Bowing:
An Instructional Video Series with Michael Ismerio
All Access Pass
- All 40 Current Lessons
- All Future Lessons
- Lifetime Access
- Access to Exclusive Facebook Student Group
- 1 Free Private Lesson
- BEST VALUE
- Packs of 5 Lessons
- Lifetime Access
- Access to Exclusive Facebook Student Group
Welcome to my instructional videos. They represent over 15 years of teaching and analyzing how my students learn.
These videos are organized intentionally. They start with the foundational rhythms found in old time fiddle music and slowly build in complexity while layering more and more techniques onto the tunes.
And what sets them apart from other instructional videos is my use of mnemonics, or memory aids, to make the complex bowing patterns memorable and stick in our already overloaded memory banks.
These videos were created to be stand alone teaching aids but they work incredibly well in combination with online private lessons with me. You can start the learning process with the videos and then during the one-on-one lesson we can problem solve, fine tune, and answer any questions that will come up.
Lifetime access to the videos can be purchased in lesson packs of 5, or via our All Access Pass. Note that the All Access Pass is the best value, and includes all current and FUTURE videos.
All Access Pass
If you are convinced that learning bowing is for you and you like the way I teach than the All Access Pass is the way to go. It’s the most economical way to access my videos and it will only become a better value as I continue to add more videos to the series.
I will continue to add more content to the site and you will be able to see it all.
AND, if you purchase the All Access Pass I will throw in a free 30 minute private lesson using Zoom.
Think of yourself as an early supporter of this project, for which I thank you.
If your not ready to make the commitment of the All Access Pass, you can enroll in Lesson Packs consisting of 5 videos each.
The series is designed to start at the beginning, with the foundational rhythms of old time music, and than increase in complexity. You can move at any pace you like but I highly recommend going in order as the series builds upon itself, using techniques taught in earlier videos.
If you’ve got any questions, don’t hesitate to drop me a note at email@example.com
Lesson Packs are listed below…
Private Student Facebook Group
When you enroll in my online programs or sign up for private lessons you gain access to an exclusive online group for my Art of Bowing Series fiddle students.
In this private Facebook group you can ask questions, post videos of yourself playing, engage with other students interested in the language of bowing, or share anything else that feels appropriate. This group will allow me to answer individuals’ questions in a forum where everyone can see the answers and build community at the same time.
Detailed Listings and Additional Content
Each lesson page contains much more than just the video of me teaching the tune. My intention is to give you as much context as possible about the people who played this music and the environment from which they came.
So along with each tune I include:
- Notes on the fiddle techniques used in the tune
- The source recording that I used to learn the tune
- Any tune lineage I can track down
- Biographical information about the fiddler
- Videos of the fiddler or related fiddlers
Click on the green links below to view the additional content available with each lesson.
Lesson Pack 1
Lesson pack #1 starts with what I consider the 5 foundational rhythms that are heard over and over again in Old Time music. The tunes are all in cross G tuning which is more beginner friendly than standard tuning.
Lesson Pack 2
Lesson pack #2 continues in cross G tuning. We now delve into the wide world of fiddle tunes by mixing and matching the foundational rhythms in different orders depending on the melody. We also get into the 3rd dimension of fiddling by learning Ornaments and Circles to add additional rhythym to the melodies.
Lesson Pack 3
Lesson pack #3 continues working with circles to increase rhythm and then moves on to foot tapping, and switching rhythms on the fly.
Tunes included in Lesson Pack 3 include…
#11 – Daddy Shot a Field Lark
#12 – Flat foot in the ashes
#13 – Money in both pockets
#14 – Candy girl part 1
#15 – Candy girl part 2
Lesson Pack 4
Lesson pack #4 takes us to Standard Tuning to explore another way of playing in the key of G
Tunes included in Lesson Pack 4 include…
#16 – Fishing Time
#17 –Goodbye Liza Jane
#18 –Old Chattanooga
#19 –Seneca Squaredance
#20 –Roses in the Morning
Lesson Pack 5
Lesson pack #5 takes us to High Bass tuning (ADae) in order to have some fun with the key of D before returning to Standard Tuning to play a C tune.
Tunes included in Lesson Pack 5 include…
#21 –Step Around Johnny (included in Free Sample Course)
#22 –Lady of the Lake
#23 – Hawks and Eagles
#24 – Sally Ann
#25 – Altamont
Lesson Pack 6
Lesson pack #6 continues in the Key of C and then explores the alternate tunings of GDad (key of G) and AEac# (Key of A)
Tunes included in Lesson Pack 6 include…
#26 –Indian Ate The Woodchuck
#27 – Saturday Night Breakdown
#28 – Got A Little Home To Go To
#29 – Saddle up the Gray
#30 – Bear Creek Sally Goodin
Lesson Pack 7
Lesson pack #7 takes us back to Cross G tuning (GDgd) to explore some intermediate tunes.
Tunes included in Lesson Pack 7 include…
#31 – Happy Hollow
#32 – Cat on a Leash
#33 – Old Blue Tick
#34 – George Gann/Fire On The Mountain
#35 – Trouble on my Mind
Lesson Pack 8
Lesson pack #8 wraps up the current version of this course with some complex rhythm patterns in cross G and standard tunings.
Tunes included in Lesson Pack 8 include…
#36 – Kansas City Reel
#37 – Pretty Betty Martin
#38 – Jenny get around
#39 – Johnny Come Along
#40 – Ora Lee (included in Free Sample Course)