Frequently Asked Questions

Technology

What technology is required to run FiddleQuest?


Any Internet-connected desktop, notebook, tablet, or mobile device that runs a modern browser. A current version of Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Edge, Opera, Vivaldi, or Silk will run FiddleQuest. To have the best experience with FiddleQuest, we recommend a device that is not more than 3 years old. If you need to purchase a new device, you don’t need to buy anything expensive. The Kindle Fire from Amazon runs FiddleQuest nicely and costs as little as $50! Because good sound is important to effective learning, it is recommended that you use a small speaker or earbuds with your device.




What type of device do I need to shoot and post videos to the FiddleQuest site?


The FiddleQuest Video Recorder app runs on iPhones, iPods, and iPads running iOS 8 or newer.




Are there privacy settings so that I can restrict the use of my child’s videos on the Internet?


Absolutely. Visit Settings -> Privacy and select “Not Sharable” for your child’s videos. Instantly your videos will not be shareable or viewable outside FiddleQuest.




How do I contact technical support if I have any issues while on the FiddleQuest site?


It’s easy! At the bottom-right side of every screen is a blue button with a help icon. Just click it and type in your question.





Teachers

What makes FiddleQuest different from other teaching methods?


1. Our focus on a student's ears. No curriculum places more emphasis on building a student's ability to play by ear than FiddleQuest. 2. An emphasis on social playing and the skills unique to playing socially with others. 3. The wide diversity of music taught -- American folk, Irish, Scottish, Classical and more. We love it all! 4. Practice tools that helps students learn faster. 5. How we measure success: "Are students still playing when they are adults and lessons are over?"




What is "Recreational Music"?


The concept of recreational (or social or conversational) music refers to an informal style of music making that is played for the enjoyment of the players. “Performance music” refers to music that is played for the purpose of entertainment of others. A core principle of the FiddleQuest method is that students should learn to be recreational musicians first with lots of low-stakes perfomance opportunities. If students discover they love performing, they will naturally work to develop their art to the levels required for performing. Playing with friends and family allows musicians to avoid some unnecessary obstacles and pitfalls that can accompany performance-oriented music education.




What songs will students learn?


The FiddleQuest curriculum offers music from around the world—American folk, jazz, Irish, Scottish, Scandanavian, Classical, Galician, Eastern European, and more. Because of the diversity of songs we offer, there is a tremendous amount of music for teachers and students to choose from. When selecting songs, we seek songs that students will love to play. We try songs out and have students help determine if the songs will get played at jams, talent shows, and performances. One of the benefits of FiddleQuest as a teacher platform is the ability to test and adapt. We are continually improving our library of songs to meet best meet teachers needs and ensure students everywhere love learning and playing our songs.




What skills will students learn?


FiddleQuest has a variety of skills that teachers can assign to students (or students can explore on their own). Scales and Arpeggios — FiddleQuest walks students through all the major scales and arpeggios in a gradual sequence using recordings and synchronized notation. Harmony — Students learn to develop and play harmonies alongside singers and instrumentalists. Through continual exposure and increasingly perceptive listening, students learn to quickly anticipate chord changes ‘on the fly.’ Improvisation — The most common regret that adult classically-trained musicians confess is their inability to improvise. Improvisation is similar to learning to engage in a conversation with a person, rather than speaking from a script. Talking is improvisation. And we get good by practicing it. FiddleQuest provides the tools to get even the youngest learners improvising. Sight Reading — The most common regret that adult ear-trained musicians confess is their inability to read music. FiddleQuest helps train students to have strong ears and strong eyes. The FiddleQuest method of notation training emulates the way children learn to read books — having someone reading to you and pointing out words on the page. FiddleQuest uses the same approach with an interactive notation tool that highlights the note as it is being played. Comping — FiddleQuest teaches students how to provide rhythm alongside other musicians (aka 'comping'). Chopping, shuffling and chords are some of the tools that fiddlers use to be able to add to a song or part of a song where they are not on the melody. Vibrato — Vibrato is taught with a series of recordings that move kids slowly and consistently towards a beautiful, full and natural sounding vibrato. The pacing is gradual and the exercises are fun with lots of different bands and instruments to play alongside. What was once a very difficult skill to teach is now much easier for both teachers and students.




How long does it take to complete the curriculum?


The short answer: Some students are able to complete all 10 levels by middle school. Other students will complete the curriculum when they are in high school. The long answer: Musicians get good by playing a lot of music and listening to a lot of music. The concept of “10,000 hours to become an expert” has become a standard milestone for measuring progress and ability. The majority of music students, however, play less than 100 hours a year. If students study music for 5 years at 100 hours a year, what sort of player will they be after that 500 hour investment? FiddleQuest is designed to

  1. encourage students to want to play more
  2. maximize the effectiveness of the time that students invest in music.
The result is a better player who will enjoy playing for a lifetime. And those who play for a lifetime, improve over a lifetime.




What is FiddleQuest's Educational Philosophy?


FiddleQuest is build to support the principles of Music with Motivation. Music with Motivation is an approach to education that combines motivation and behavior research with the unique demands of learning the violin. Music with Motivation seeks to ensure that the investment of time, resources and personal energy into learning the violin adds to the quality of a student's personal and social life over a lifetime. See more here.




How do students learn to read music?


Sight reading is a cornerstone skill. FiddleQuest helps violinists to rely entirely on their ears OR entirely on their eyes for whatever musical situation they encounter. Just as it is easy for a student to bypass their ear development by leaning on their sight reading strength, the reverse is also true—students can fool their eyes (and their teachers) into believing their sight reading skills are better than they truly are. FiddleQuest teaches students to read by learning to play harmonies with notation. Anyone who has played a second violin part can attest to the difficulty of 'faking it' through the piece with strong ears. Harmonies are difficult to memorize and require students to rely heavily on their reading skills. If your students come to FiddleQuest already relying on their eyes, the shift to ear learning will be a challenge at first. Encourage them to hang in there! Consider starting with a few easy songs and let them work through them. Once they begin to experience progress, their frustration will give way to motivation. Strong ears are worth the effort! The confidence, satisfaction and joy a student experiences from playing anything they hear will last a lifetime.




How does FiddleQuest keep kids engaged?


Student videos, chord charts and lyrics, interactive notation tools, and custom practice pages are just some of the tools that we use to keep kids playing. These tools are just part of what makes FiddleQuest effective at keeping kids engaged. At the root is our core curriculum, which meets two crucial objectives:

  • songs and skills that are incrementally more challenging to keep the momentum of kids from slowing
  • music that is relevant and fun
Fail at either one of these, and kids will fizzle out. We’ve spent years testing and refining our songs and skills to maximize student engagement. While young kids will play most any music because it is a novel experience, kids become more discerning about the music they play when they enter middle school. By the time they are in high school, if the music does not connect with them, only a few kids will stay the course and continue playing. We select music for each level with an eye on the age group that will be playing it because we want to keep kids of all ages engaged.




How does FiddleQuest train both the ears and eyes of a student?


FiddleQuest is committed to helping kids become social musicians who can play comfortably in a variety of styles. Folk music (including American, Irish, Scottish, Scandinavian and more) has traditionally been taught by ear. Over time, musicians develop the ability to quickly learn new songs as they hear them. The majority of music around the world is typically played without notation. Musicians will gather and call out songs that others will either know or quickly learn “on the fly.” FiddleQuest embraces this skill as an important element to playing confidently with others in a non-classical environment. At the same time, the eyes are an important asset to musicians. Classical musicians rely on this skill, as do studio musicians and others asked to sit-in on a session on a moment’s notice. Even if you are not planning to play in an orchestra, there will be times when you may be asked to read music for an event or for a recording session or with a performing group. Incremental sight reading exercises in the FiddleQuest curriculum take students from their first notes to advanced classical music.




How does FiddleQuest provide unique paths for different students?


All students can learn music. But students all have different levels of motivation and time. Some students love the idea of becoming a musician but rarely pick up the violin between lessons. Other students are more motivated or may have more parental support, practicing an hour or more each day between lessons. Clearly, these students will move at different rates. If the first “infrequently practicing” student is given the same level of material that the second student is given, they will move so slowly that only the most dogged of students will stay the course. FiddleQuest is intentionally flexible, allowing teachers to address the needs of different students with unique likes and different motivational levels. There are plenty of great adult players in the world that started as infrequent young players. They continued playing because the obstacles were minimized and they received lots of encouragement. At some point, something shifted and they became more interested and engaged seriously in learning and playing. The most important element for either of the above students is they do not quit. Students that stop playing rarely begin again. On the hand, students that enjoy moving ahead at even a snail’s pace may hear a recording, attend a concert, meet a musical friend, or attend a music camp that lights a fire under them to engage at an even deeper level. Our goal for all students is to help them have fun and keep playing.




Why the strong focus on ear training?


FiddleQuest is a unique curriculum for violinists. Our primary goal is to help students learn the skills that will keep them playing long after lessons have ended. FiddleQuest is built on the belief—borne out by observation and research—that a strong determining factor for a student continuing to play music after lessons end is a strong ear. A strong ear is the ability to hear music and respond precisely. A response includes replicating the music, harmonizing with the music, or developing the musical idea. A strong ear is not something you are born with, but a skill that is learned through experience. A strong ear starts with a pathway in our brains that needs to be developed and strengthened. People with strong ears can hear, process and map complex patterns of sounds. The stronger your ear, the more complex and lengthier the pattern that can be processed. For example, a student with an undeveloped ear may hear just 4 notes and process only 1 or 2 of them. A student with a highly developed ear can hear a new song and be able to process and mentally map the entire song in one listen. While there are disorders that make this natural process more difficult (just as there are disorders that interfere with auditory cognition), humans are wired for this skill. And when you develop this skill, it goes with you to every musical instrument you play. As a musician, a strong ear also means strong ear-hand coordination. Ear-hand coordination is very similar to eye-hand coordination. A basketball player requires the ability to instantaneously coordinate the muscles in their hands and arms to their thoughts. A musician with strong ear-hand coordination can have a pattern of notes in their head and instantaneously coordinate the muscles in their fingers and bow hand to respond to that sound. FiddleQuest's practice tools are effective for learning and developing ear strength. It teaches students how to break songs down and loop difficult sections while helping them develop their most important skill—their ear. Students report increased learning and empowerment in their practicing at home and teachers report increased satisfaction and progress with students when using the practice tools.





Parents

How do I set up an account for my child if I do not want him or her to have Internet access?


FiddleQuest is a web-app and therefore requires a modern browser and Internet connection to run. Most mobile devices (iPads etc) have parental controls that let you explicitly specify which sites your child is allowed to access. You can easily lock down the device from all Internet sites and allow only fiddlequest.com.




Can my child have his or her own account?


Absolutely. Older students often prefer to have their own account. During Sign-up, simply select “I am an Independent Student”.




Can I have all of my children on one FiddleQuest account?


Each student needs their own FiddleQuest account. Assignments, progress tracking, teacher notes, and video uploads are all tied to individual students. We offer family discounts for multi-student families.




How do I link my child’s account to our teacher?


You will be asked to select your teacher during signup. If you don’t have a teacher yet, you can choose “I don’t have a FiddleQuest teacher yet” during signup, and your teacher can later select you from their login.




How do I cancel my subscription?


You can cancel your account at any time in Settings on the Billing tab. If you every have a question about this or anything else, we’re always just a click away.




Can the FiddleQuest curriculum be used without a music teacher?


Violin is a difficult instrument to learn without a teacher. FiddleQuest is designed to be used with the guidance of an in-person teacher.




What If my child does not have a violin teacher yet?


No problem! Just select “I don’t have a FiddleQuest teacher yet” during sign-up. We’ll help you find a FiddleQuest teacher in your area.




Why do you have student videos?


Kids are motivated by other kids. First lessons usually include a story from a young student about how they saw a friend or an ‘older’ high school student playing. It was enough to get them to ask their parent for lessons. The power of peers is no secret. FiddleQuest leverages that power through videos. When a student learns a song, their teacher can use the free “FiddleQuest for Teachers” mobile app to take a video and easily upload it. When FiddleQuest students are working on a song, they explore other students performances from all over in the world. As students watch these videos, they are not only encouraged to practice more, they become increasingly more familiar with the song making the learning process that much faster. FiddleQuest teachers have observed students who have learned songs entirely from watching videos of other students.