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February 2007 · Bimonthly

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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.

Click here to hear soldiers_joy.mp3

7. Soldier's Joy

You can use 1-3 bowing in bars 1, 3 and 5. To do this, simply play each group of 4 notes with an initial downbow on the first one, slurring the remaining on an upbow. The 1-3 bowing gives an automatic accent to beats 1 and 3 of the bar, because the first note takes the same amount of bow as the subsequent three.

If you were with us on "Liberty," you already know about rocking the bow on quarter notes. This song uses the same technique, this time on 8th notes. In section B, the first four notes of all bars but the 4th, 7th and 8th use this bowing. Start section B, after the two pickup notes, with your right arm and bow positioned as though you were going to play the E and A strings together. Simultaneously put your 1st finger (F#) on the E string and 3rd (D) on the A. Leave them down throughout these first 4 notes of the measure. Rock the bow slightly over to the E string and play the F#. Now rock it back to the D note. Repeat.

In rocking the bow, move the forearm or even hand, rather than the upper arm, for maximum efficiency. Keep the fingers flexible.

Use the same arm motion in bar 2 of section B, alternating open E with C# on the A string. Now you're equipped to rock the bow wherever it occurs throughout the rest of the section.

You can play the offbeat rhythm track yourself on fiddle. There only two chords, and you can use just the open strings!

I heard this song has been rated the #1 all-time favorite of fiddlers and pickers!

         ©2005 Mary Ann Willis

Thanks to Kelly Lancaster for the backup guitar tracks, and Dan Lewis for the audio engineering.

About the Author:

  • 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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