Started teaching a good friend the fiddle and wondering if anyone has any suggestions for tunes to start on. I've started with the very basic e.g. twinkle twinkle etc but from then on..... maybe the Kerry polka's, my darling asleep....

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Your on the right track. Easy Polka Britches full of Stiches, in most books. Old Johns Jig , Connaughtmans Rambles Jig.Boys of Bluehill, Hornpipe. T

This is probably a question fiddle players should answer but since you haven't had many responses I thought I'd play along.   I used to teach whistle at an Irish arts academy and it was always rough coming up with a syllabus that would give all academy students a set of tunes they could play together at the end of the term.  The difficulty was apparent when I'd suggest "such and such is very easy to learn on the whistle" and the fiddle teacher would respond "ah, but that's a b*#$@ for a beginner on fiddle!"

Pick tunes that are easy for a beginner to finger/bow so that they can focus on rhythm and tone. Make it simple and enjoyable so that they won't get burned out on frustration too early.  Don't bother with complex technique or ornamentation for at least a year or so.  Ornamentation can always be added but it's no good without a foundation good rhythm and tone being established first.  Pick tunes that expose them to different scales (i.e. one in G, one in D, one in Em, etc) and include a mixture of reels, jigs, etc.

Well, I can't claim to understand the mechanics of the fiddle, but when I started out on whistle some of the slower stuff was the order of the day. Fanny Poer, Planxty Irwin, The South Wind. One of the advantages was that you could run them together into a nice little set. Later in life (much later actually!), I still enjoy playing them.
All very good tunes thanks! I must write them down. And good idea about the different tunes in different keys wouldn't have thought of thta!
South Wind is an example of what I was talking about above.  I can't remember if it was the C nats or what in the tune but that was one I suggested at our academy and the fiddle teacher said it wasn't a good choice for rank beginners (even though it's easy as pie on the whistle)... maybe she was right, maybe it was just her opinion and it's fine for a beginner fiddler, I really don't know.

I can't imagine there's a difference, but I learned by ear so I wouldn't be that knowledgeable about the way its done in classes. I see you're learning the pipes. My brother started about a year ago. Really is an amazing instrument!

Tripping up the Stairs maybe, The Old Burnt Man could be a good one either.
Dawning of the Day was one that our kids really enjoyed.
Dawning of the day is next on the list!!

At The Riley School of Music, the teachers usually start the very beginner fiddlers with easy polkas (children and adults).  I agree with Tony about polkas. The very first polka is usually Britches Full of Stitches  - started on the open "A" string.  This is because the A and E strings are easiest for beginners to reach, especially if they are little children with small hands.  After polka style is ingrained, next come jigs, maybe slip jigs too, then reels.  Reinforce the rhythm patterns, since they may not be familiar with the Irish traditional rhythms. Hope this is helpful.

 

Swallowtail jig is also a good one

 

When I started I learned Tobin's Jig and I still play it! I also learned simple reels like "Rolling in the Rye-grass" (slowly) and The Morning Star. If you are an adult beginner it makes the learnign more interesting to be able to play tunes that are interesting and that you might hear on CDs etc or on Radio na Gaeltachta. Hornipiepes werer great fun - The Boys of Fair Hill for example.

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