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April 2006 · Bimonthly

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Arranging Fiddle Tunes to Teach Violin Techniques, Part 4

by Mary Ann Willis

From Mary Ann Willis:
The intention of this series of articles is not to present the tunes as they are traditionally done. Instead the goal is to use easy, popular music as a vehicle for the student to practice and learn more advanced techniques.

I created these versions of these tunes for my students, who enjoy them and their increased mobility around the fiddle with both left hand and bow as a result of learning them. This series is an alternative to the drudgery of Sevcik, Mazas etc. - to help inspire the beginning student to tackle intermediate techniques.

Pop Goes the Weasel

This tune is a 6/8 jig. There are 6 beats per measure; each beat is an 8th note long. Actually, we feel each measure in 2:

1 - 2 - 3   2 - 2 - 3.

Use a staccato bowstroke. This is a short stroke with a brief stop between up- and downbows for crisp articulation. In bar 2 there's a slurred staccato; stop the bow between the slurred G to D. You can use a forefinger pinch-release for a clean attack at the beginnning of each note (there's a chapter on that in my new "Hot Fiddle!" DVD).

The fun in this song is the "Pop!" left hand pizzicato in the second to last bar. Pluck the open E at the pizz. notation with a sharp pull-release of the left pinkie. You can also play the following open A with a left hand pizzicato if you like.

Have your accompanist remain silent for the pizzicato note(s) so they project clearly without interference.

2005 Mary Ann Willis

The accompanying recording features Kelly Lancaster guitar and Dan Lewis, audio engineering.

If you have any questions you can e-mail me at
You also might enjoy visiting my website at

Mary Ann Willis bio -

  • Professional violinist, performing and teaching in Houston Texas
    1977-1999 with The Gypsies. 2000-present with Moodafaruka
  • Author of eight book/recording volumes of ethnic and classical music for Mel Bay Publications (5 published to date under Mary Ann Harbar)
  • Played with numerous symphony orchestras throughout the United States, and the Festival dei Due Mondi in Spoleto, Italy
  • Houston Community College faculty member starting in 1988
  • BA in music from University of California

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