“Kenny Jackson is one of the best! He is able to break down knowledge of his craft for the beginner to understand, and teach at any level. I am a beginning fiddle player, and while I am in awe of his musical skill, I still find him to be an encouraging, clear, and excellent teacher.” ~Sue West
The fiddle music that I teach is deeply rooted in American traditional music, especially from the Appalachian South – the kind of music that was commonly played by country folks long before more modern styles like bluegrass, western swing, and country-western were popularized via mass media. It’s a beautiful, diverse, and deep kind of music that I’ve loved, played, and taught for decades.
Traditional music is best learned by ear and by heart, with written music used only as a memory aid if used at all, and for learning nothing beats a relationship with a good teacher. I’m happy to work with folks who have had no formal musical training as well as those looking to make the leap from classical violin technique to traditional fiddling. Normally I teach to ages 16 and older, but I’m willing to consider a younger student who is highly motivated to learn. Contact me and we’ll discuss it. If you’re a beginner, I will help you to develop a good foundation with your instrument. You’ll learn simple, authentic versions of traditional tunes. We will work a lot on bringing out the rhythms and phrasing of the music in a way that makes your fiddling sound like the real deal. You’ll learn to play in standard violin tuning as well as traditional alternative tunings that lend the music unique character. I will help you to build your skills and understanding of the music so that you can begin to do what is the most fun part — playing music with other people. For more experienced players, we can work on expanding your repertoire, honing your technique, learning to play more challenging tunes, and exploring nuances that come with intensive playing and listening. You can take lessons with me either online via Skype or in person at my home in beautiful Chatham County, NC. I have taught many students online since 2007, and it is a great alternative if you aren’t within commuting distance, are short on time, or if you just prefer to take your lessons in the comfort of your own home. What you’ll need for this are a high-speed internet connection, a webcam, and a Skype account with the software downloaded and installed on your PC or mobile device.
Lesson duration and frequency
For a dedicated student, weekly lessons really help to maintain a sense of continuity and progress. Many students find that in a 30-minute lesson they can get enough material to carry them through until the next lesson, especially when taken weekly. That said, 60-minute lessons can offer an opportunity to go into material in greater depth, and offer more time for questions to be answered, etc.
It’s also possible to do biweekly, occasional, or even one-off lessons, depending on your needs. Just let me know what those needs are, and we can work out the best schedule for you.
What you need to bring to lessons
Your instrument, and your enthusiasm for learning of course! Beyond that, I do recommend having a good old-fashioned paper notebook in front of you. You also should have some means of recording sound/video from the lesson–you’ll get a lot more out of your lessons this way. Many find that their smart phone works well, in person and online as well. A number of software plugins are available for recording Skype calls, and a list of them can be found here. For Mac users of Skype, I recommend Call Recorder for Skype.
Learning materials provided
Written materials: because traditional music is best learned by ear, I don’t teach from written materials. That said, because many folks find that written music can be a valuable memory aid once a tune is learned, I can provide them when requested. If I have a particular piece already transcribed, there is no cost. However, if you would like me to transcribe a tune for you, the charge is $15 to cover the time I spend working on it.
Audio/video: as I mentioned above, I recommend that you have some means of making audio/video recordings* during your lessons. If I have existing recordings made for previous lessons, I can provide these without charge. Because of the number of students that I teach, I must charge $15 per audio/video recording of additional materials outside of your lesson time.
For info on my current rates, please contact me. Discount rates are available for enrollment in lesson series. To book a lesson or series of lessons Get in touch with me (you can use this website’s contact page), let me know what you’d like to do, and we’ll get you set up with lessons. I’ll send you a bill via email, and you can pay me via a secure link using a credit/debit card or via PayPal. If you prefer to make other payment arrangements, please let me know at the time you book your lessons and we’ll work something out.**
Please feel free to contact me with any questions you might have before you book any lessons. Life is short, and there’s a lot of music to be made, so if you’d like to learn to play old-time fiddle, there’s no time like the present!
*Any written materials and any audiovisual materials that I provide, or any recordings that you make during your lessons, are for your use only, and are not to be shared online or otherwise copied and distributed without my consent. **All lessons are to be paid for in advance. Payment for single lessons booked is nonrefundable. However, if you need to miss a scheduled lesson due to illness, unexpected family, school, or work circumstances, etc., just let me know and we’ll reschedule your lesson for the earliest convenient date. Payment for lesson series is 50% refundable if student cancels the series before taking the second lesson in series of four lessons, or before taking the fifth lesson in series of sixteen lessons.