Class Description - Fiddle Classes

Kids at the Fleadh

The following general descriptions apply primarily to melody instruments. Traditional singing and accompanying instruments like bodhran, guitar, harp, and piano will have somewhat different descriptions.
Please see the individual descriptions for each class for more details.

Starter: Certain instruments (fiddle, harp) offer starter sections for those who are new to the instrument. These classes cover starting technique and care of the instrument and serve as an introduction to Irish music. Depending on skills recognized or obtained, students may move up to Beginner classes sometime during the quarter.

Beginner: These classes are for those who are new to the instrument or have limited skills. Note that some instruments will have "Starter" classes due to the nature of the instrument. Students will become familiar with their instruments and will learn to play simpler Irish tunes by ear at slower speeds; tunes that are taught may not be on the tune list for the quarter but may be in the Riley 'Common Core'. Students will learn about the different types of traditional Irish tunes.

Intermediate: Students should have previously been in a Beginner class (or the equivalent in outside private lessons) or have played the instrument for some time in Irish or related styles. Students will continue to learn tunes by ear, with a focus on the current quarter's tune list. Students will learn to play at faster tempos and begin to learn Irish ornamentation and style.

Advanced: These classes are for those who are quite familiar with their instrument and Irish music. Tunes will be taught with the goal of attaining playing them at 'Riley Speed', which can be heard by listening to the tunes on the website. There will be continued emphasis on ornamentation and style, using the current quarter's tune list.


Classes are offered based on instructor availability for the current quarter. Please see the current schedule for this quarter's classes, times and instructors.

Fiddle Classes

Class Teacher Time Email
Fiddle 0
  (Absolute Beginner)
Hollie Greenwood 9:00
Fiddle I
  (Beginner)
Hollie Greenwood 10:00
Fiddle III
  (Advanced)
Hollie Greenwood 11:00

For all class levels, the focus will be on learning Irish music and the techniques for playing in this style. A number of tunes will be learned by all classes and the emphasis will be on learning by ear. Along with class, there are different "bands" that are available for joining (no additional fee) at 12:30PM, that will allow you to practice the tunes outside of class with other students.

Starter: This class is for all students who are new to the instrument, who have never played violin or fiddle. The class would cover starting technique, care of the fiddle and bow and be an introduction to Irish music. This class has adults and children separated. Depending on skills recognized or obtained, you may move up to Beginner class sometime during the quarter. If you wish to start a child as early as age 5, please contact [rsmail]sCRO[/rsmail] for discussion of class placement and time for the instruction.

Beginner: This class would be for students who have played the instrument before and have limited skills on the instrument and on bowing technique. Emphasis will be on learning the tunes by ear and practicing technique at slower speeds. Adults are in a separate class from children and start with bowing for Irish Polka tunes. The idea is to acquire knowledge of the bowing used in polkas and then move on to Irish Jig tunes, so there are 2 beginner classes. If you have played violin in the past, even well, but are unfamiliar with the bowing techniques in Irish fiddling, you should start here. With experience in violin, you may move up to other classes sooner. For those students who have not played violin, you will develop playing skills while learning the bowing techniques associated with Irish music and may remain in the class longer than those with prior experience.

For children's Beginner class, there is just the one class, so the techniques for all types of tunes will be the focus for this class. Again, the emphasis will be on slower speeds and work on playing the correct notes and on simple bowing.

Intermediate: Adults and children are in separate classes, but the teaching is similar. Students will continue with bowing previously studied. The tunes will be practiced at a little faster pace. For adults, you should have started in Beginner Class (or the equivalent in outside private lessons) and the instructor will know when to assign you to this class based on your playing. You will also be introduced to other bowing techniques, including Irish reels and hornpipes. You will begin to learn various left hand techniques, including cuts and rolls, which are prevalent in Irish music.

Advanced: This class is for students who have been recommended to move up by instructors after they have taken Intermediate Class or the equivalent. Adults and children are in separate classes. There will be more emphasis on bowing styles, left hand techniques and you will begin to learn about bowing pressure skills. The teaching in this class will focus more on the level of play of those in the class and build the skills needed to progress. You should be able to play some tunes at "Riley speed" in this class, which can be heard by accessing the Riley website and listening to tunes from some of the quarters.

If there is any question about where to start or more questions about the class sessions, please let us know and we can have an instructor discuss it with you. You may also ask questions via email to any of our instructors if unsure about classes or which one to take.

For additions or corrections to the website, please send email to