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K.J. LILEY - The Funky Beginners’ Fiddle Book 

K.J. LILEY - The Funky Beginners’ Fiddle Book 
Lovaig Music ISBN: 9781911270010 

This is a fun, but really useful beginners fiddle guide, aimed at kids, illustrated with lots of cute line drawings (done by kids) and laid out in an easy to use, handy sized workbook format. It’s pretty much for absolute beginners, both to fiddling and to musical notation, and takes the student through all they need to know to start their fiddle journey.

Beginning with absolute basics, such as a lesson on all the different fiddle parts, how to hold it, how the bow works etc, and introducing some of the foundations for how to read music (notes and their values, and where to find those notes on the fiddle), the book quickly has the learner playing tunes from the dots. It starts very simply, with nursery rhymes like Mary Had A Little Lamb, then incorporates simple but slightly more developed tunes like Oh The Britches Full Of Stitches and Bonny Bobby Shafto, before moving on to some more difficult tunes like the reel, Mrs MacLeod Of Raasay and the jig, Rocking The Baby.

At appropriate points, the lessons introduce concepts such as time signatures, keys, dynamics and bowing patterns, but always in an easy to follow and fun way, with handy little tips and tricks appearing along the way (and given by monsters and aliens, of course!). The book itself is designed to be written on, like a workbook, so there are exercises to fill out as well as practice to do on the fiddle itself, with a star system so learners can collect stars as they progress through the chapters. It could be used for individual learning, or as a basis for group work.

This is a really useful little tool, and at 60 pages doesn’t feel like it would overwhelm the absolute beginner. It’s fun, easy to follow, and uses tunes that will be familiar to many. An intermediate and an advanced book are also planned, and could be used as a follow up, but this little workbook would certainly set young learners on the right road.

Fiona Heywood


This review appeared in Issue 137 of The Living Tradition magazine