User's Guide

Introduction

FiddleQuest is a curriculum designed specifically for teachers and students in private studios and classroom settings seeking more fun and social interaction in their music. We deliver a large library of great, incrementally difficult songs in various styles from all over the world; comprehensive skill exercises in Scales, Improvisation, Sight Reading, Harmony, Chopping, and Vibrato; and community building motivational tools like student videos that are easily shot and uploaded by teachers each time a song is completed.

FiddleQuest is extremely easy to use. By working closely with students and parents, we’ve refined our clean layouts to maximize efficiency, make features ever-more intuitive, and ensure that FiddleQuest is never intimidating for a student of any age.

For Parents

Kids are in lessons for a very small time each week. Making use of the time between lessons is what determines how much a child will learn during their lesson years. FiddleQuest is designed with typical families in mind. Typical families have circumstances that include: parents with busy schedules, kids with lots of activities, parents with no musical skills, and parents who do not want to force their kids to practice.

So, can kids learn to play music in these typical families? Without a doubt! FiddleQuest takes the joy of lessons and brings it home. Fun songs, great recordings, and videos make practice time engaging and effective.

Yet, even though FiddleQuest makes practicing and playing music more fun, kids can resist the effort that goes along with learning an instrument. Kids often see music lessons as a “discretionary” activity—something they know their parents want them to do because “you’ll appreciate it when you’re older.” Kids often feel they don’t need to put much effort into practicing or may even resist practicing altogether.

Parents who see their kids resist practicing begin to wonder if their children are ready for lessons or if their children have the right temperament to learn. They are ready, and they will learn.

Here are some basic tips to help make practicing more successful.

 
 

Practice Tips

Routine

Help your child build a routine about when to practice. Have a designated time of day they practice. It doesn’t need to be everyday, but it needs to be consistent.
Consistency makes it so much easier.

Morning

Kids that practice in the morning have the best long-term success. 10 minutes in the morning is worth 15 or even 20 minutes after school.

Space

Have kids practice near you. Avoid sending them to a quiet room out of sight. Kids like to be heard and engage differently when they know they have an audience.

Speakers

Have a small speaker hooked up to the device you use with FiddleQuest. Hearing the music loud and clear makes a BIG difference in kids’ engagement.

Rewards

Create some fun incentives for meeting practice goals. Many families have found great success with small rewards such as ice cream out with Mom. Helping kids set their own goals, and then rewarding achievement of those goals helps kids experience success—and nothing succeeds like success.

Kitchen Concerts

Have kids perform while you are working on a chore (e.g. cooking or cleaning up after dinner.) Kids get to avoid a chore, you get entertainment, and everyone wins. Don’t call it practice, just call it a kitchen concert.

Length of Practice

While your teacher will have suggestions for the amount of practice they would like, it is important to be sensitive to your child’s capacity and interest. Building up stamina is important. So a 10-minute practice might be just right for a 6-year old, while a 25-minute practice might make more sense for a 12-year old.

Play Along

Learn to play the ukulele or guitar. Three chords will let you play most every song in Levels 1-4! You will have fun, your child will love practice time, and your child will see that learning doesn’t stop on graduation day.

Favorite Set List

Make a routine out of playing favorite songs together. You can continually change the list and build on it. Having a card in the violin case with the names of these songs will make picking songs easy.

Keep It Out of the Case

Get your violin out of the case and onto a wall hanger or on a table where it can be easily grabbed. Having instruments out makes them far more likely to be played.

Find Practice Buddies

Cultivate relationships of musical friends for your child. Don’t insist on their playing together when they get together, though. Let it come naturally.

 

Navigation Tips

Songs Levels

When you are on the Student Home Page, you can move between Levels of Songs by clicking on the arrows the left and right of the song circles. (These arrows will appear when you hover over them.)

Songs

When you on are the Song Page, you can move to the next or previous song by clicking on the arrows to the left and right of the Audio Player. (The arrows will appear when you hover over them.)

Skills and Skill Levels

All FiddleQuest Skill Categories are visible on the Student Home Page. Select a Skill Category by clicking on its icon. The Skill page will open with the exercises of the student’s current level. You can move between Levels of the selected Skill by clicking on the arrows to the left and right of the Skill squares.

 

The Practice Page

The practice page is the center of practice time. All songs and skills your teacher has assigned will appear on the practice page, making it easy to practice everything in one place.

Visit the Practice Page by clicking the Flag icon in the menu bar at the top left of any FiddleQuest page
Start with the first item on the Practice Page. Review Songs and Skills will always show up at the top of the screen and Songs in Progress will show up at the bottom.

Note: The Practice Page has a few tricks “under the hood.” We optimized it for those users with poor Internet connections or very old devices. Slow internet or old devices can make moving around any website a frustrating experience. So, the FiddleQuest Practice Page downloads and caches all the content on the page at the time the page initially loads. This way a student can engage with the page for a whole session without loading any additional content. A student returning to their Practice Page numerous times during the week benefits from the locally cached content, saving them the necessity to re-download the audio files each session.

 
 
Ready/Set/Go/Solo

Every FiddleQuest song is made up of 4 recordings: Ready, Set, Go & Solo. Ready is a very slow recording of violin to introduce the student to the song and provide the easiest recording to begin playing along with. Set is a slightly faster recording that the student will practice with as the week progresses. Go is an “at tempo” recording that usually includes a backing band. Solo is just the band (as heard on the Go recording) without the violin so the student can practice with just the band.

The student demonstrates that they’re ready to video the song and move on when they can comfortably play along with Solo. Comfortably playing the Solo recording doesn’t mean it’s necessarily at “performance” level, but it does mean they could play this song at a jam. 

Playback Delay

Most students find it convenient to have a delay occur after hitting the play button and before playback begins. This gives students time to get in proper position and prepare themselves for playing along with the recording.

By default, FiddleQuest uses a 3 second delay on student accounts. Younger students may like more delay, while older, more experienced students may prefer a shorter delay. You can change the default in Settings -> General -> Playback Delay.

 

Student Videos

Why Student Videos?

Students love watching their peers play the songs they are learning. Countless parents and teachers report that kids especially love watching students who are a year or two older than they are. The results are amazing: kids spend more time engaging with music, they learn the songs more quickly, and they stay motivated to keep pushing their playing to the next level.

 

Finding Videos

Student Videos can be viewed from:

the Watch section of each Song page

the Student Video page

Tip: To access the student video page, click the Menu icon at the top left of any FiddleQuest page, then choose the Videos link.
Tip: You can quickly search by song name and/or student name to explore specific videos.

 
Video Sharing

 

Parents love our video sharing feature, because it makes it quick and painless to share videos with friends and family via Facebook, Google Plus, Twitter, or email.

  1. Hover your cursor over the video you want to share.

  2. Click the Share icon in the upper right.

  3. Choose the method you’d like to use for sharing.

 
Privacy settings

Users can choose whether or not they want their videos to be sharable. By default, videos are sharable, which means they can be shared by any FiddleQuest user with anyone outside FiddleQuest.

Changing your desired setting to not sharable instantly makes your videos not-sharable outside FiddleQuest. Only FiddleQuest users will be able to view your videos. If some of your videos have previously been shared, they will instantly become non-viewable outside FiddleQuest.

  • Click the Menu icon at the top left of any FiddleQuest page.

  • Choose the Settings link.

  • If you are logged in as a student currently, you will be asked to enter your parent credentials to access settings.

  • Click on the Sharing tab.

  • Select Sharable or Not Sharable

 

Practice Tools

The Practice Tools uses recordings and video to make practicing easier for students.

 

 

Practice Steps

Practice Steps breaks songs down into small phrases that students can use to help work through a song between lessons. The recordings repeat until the student is ready and can click the green circle to start the next phrase.

 
Staff View

The FiddleQuest Staff View is an amazing way to help students navigate with their eyes through a song, while relying on their ears. The song's measures and chords are displayed but not the notation. This allows students to select phrases of any size and play them using any recording.

 
Looping

One of the most powerful features of our Notation Player is the ability to select and loop a section of music.

Desktop:
  1. Place your cursor at the beginning of the section you want to loop.

  2. Click and drag your cursor to the end of the section you want to loop and release.

  3. Hit play and the recording will loop through your selection.

  4. You can loop once, repeatedly or with a count in by clicking on the selection next to the play

Mobile:
  1. Select the area you wish to loop.

  2. Hit the loop button on the tool bar and a measure will be selected. You can expand the loop by grabbing the 'handles' on the ends of the loop.

  3. On tablets, you can get the looping options (e.g. count-in) by having the device in landscape mode. (The options will not appear on tablets in portrait or devices smaller than tablets.)

 
​Chords Window

Every song in FiddleQuest contains full chord charts and chord fingers for guitar and ukulele and lyrics where applicabler. Most songs also include instructional accompaniment videos that demonstrate how to play them on guitar and ukulele.

The “Chords Window” is designed to make it easy for teachers, parents, and friends to use common, inexpensive accompaniment instruments to take part in making music with FiddleQuest students.

 
Student Videos

On the practice tools will be all of the videos that have been made of that particular song.

Instruction Video

On Levels 1-3 there are short instruction videos to help students between lessons with basics like bow hold and tips on playing the song.

Speed

Sometimes you need more control over speed than Ready, Set, and Go provide. Fortunately, you can easily speed up or slow down any recording in FiddleQuest by using the Staff View. You'll find the speed controls on the toolbar. 

Note: the quality of the sound playback will be reduced when slowing or speeding the recording depending on the processor speed of your computer or mobile device.

 

Curriculum Map

 

The Curriculum Map is a great way to see the whole FiddleQuest curriculum from a bird’s eye view. Every song and skill is listed as a link to make it easy to explore individual items. You can access the Curriculum Map through the main menu.

Note: The Curriculum Map is not designed to be a core navigation tool. See the Navigation Tips for fast ways to move between songs and skills.

 

For Teachers

FiddleQuest teachers take part in training sessions that allow them to learn both the theory and details of teaching with the FiddleQuest Learning Site. Here are a few items of the most frequently asked questions for teachers who are getting to know the site. 

Assigning a song or skill

Assigning songs and skill exercises is super easy. In fact, it’s a one-click operation.

  1. Make sure you have selected the student for whom you want to assign the item

  2. Visit the song or skill you want to assign

  3. In the navigation bar at the top-left of the screen, click the Assessment Circle and the circle will change to a red assigned flag. That’s it!

Clicking the circle more than once rotates the status between Assigned, Completed, Review and Unassigned.

 
Assessing Levels

In FiddleQuest, Songs and Skill categories are broken into levels. Each level contains up to 12 items. Students work their way through songs and exercises gradually, graduating to higher levels as they complete each previous level. The songs and skill exercises are independent but the levels indicate the general timing you want to use them. For instance, the first Comping exercise is a Level 2 exercise. That is, you can assign it as early as when a student is in Level 2 Songs. Ideally, a student completes a skill level at approximately the same time as the song level.

 

FiddleQuest adjusts student levels automatically as you assign new items. So if you assign a scale exercise in Level 3 to work on this week, on his home page he will see the Scale icon indicating that he is in Level 3 in Scales. If you assign Scale Exercise 1 of Level 4 next week, he will see that he has graduated to Level 4 in Scales.

Graduating Levels is an important motivation for kids—celebrate it!

Note: FiddleQuest only auto-graduates students up to new levels—never down. So if you need to back up and re-assign an older exercise from a previous level, there will be no negative impact on morale since the student will not find that they have been “demoted”.

 

Manually Adjusting Levels

Occasionally you may want to manually set a student’s level. This is easily accomplished on the Student Assessment page.

  1. Click the Menu icon at the top left of any FiddleQuest page, then choose the Assessment link

  2. In the first section of the page, select the student you want to adjust

  3. In the second section of the page, select Levels as the item to modify

  4. Adjust the levels you want to modify

Working with Groups

It’s easy to work with groups in FiddleQuest. Groups can be used for classes, group lessons, performance groups, or any other scenario where you want to assign, assess, and make notes for multiple students at once.

 

Managing Groups
  1. Click the Menu icon at the top left of any FiddleQuest page, then choose the Assessment link

  2. Click on the Manage Groups tab and add as many groups as you’d like.

  3. After entering the name of the group, you will be asked to select all the students you’d like to appear in the group.

    1. Note: Each student can only belong to one group.

    2. You can easily rename or delete groups from this same tab. 

 
Working with Groups
  1. Click on the Groups tab.  Select one or more groups and assign items exactly as you do for individual students.
    A note about groups: when you toggle the assessment status of an item for a group, it will overwrite the previous status of that item for all individuals in the group. In other words, if you assign a song for a group, it will be assigned for every member of the group whether they have previously completed the item or not.

  2. Any teacher note created or edited for one member of a group, will automatically appear for all members of the group.

Teacher notes

 

Using a simple but powerful notepad, teachers can quickly and easily add stylized notes that students see when they practice at home.

The notepad icon appears at the top-right of the Student Home Page, Practice Page, and all Song and Skill pages. Clicking on the notepad icon opens the full notepad. If the student has new notes within the last 7 days, a red bell icon will appear on the notepad to flag them of the new notes.

 

To add a note, first open the full notepad (if not already open) by clicking on the notepad icon at the top right of the screen. Tap the + to add a new note. You can style the text with bold, italics, underline, and colors, drag the notes into whatever order you desire, or delete notes you no longer want by clicking on the red X.

 

When the notepad first appears, it displays the notes from the most recent lessons. As soon as you add a new note on a different day, a new sheet of the notepad will appear automatically. You and your students can easily cycle backwards through your notes from every previous lesson. Unlike paper notes, they never get lost, the dog never eats them, and they are always present for each practice session and lesson.

Shooting a Student Video

Student Videos are one of the most motivating elements of FiddleQuest for students of all levels. We encourage teachers to shoot a new video for every song the student completes. We’ve made it so efficient for teachers to shoot and upload videos that it shouldn’t even slow the flow of your lesson.

  1. Download the free FiddleQuest Video Recorder from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store. The app runs on both Apple and Android phones.

  2. Start the app and login with your FiddleQuest username and password. Note: You only have to do this once after downloading the app.

  3. Use the app to shoot the video. Tip: For best results try using an inexpensive stand like this tripod.

  4. Select the student from your list of students.Select the song, or enter a custom name if it’s a song outside the FiddleQuest curriculum.
    Tap the Upload icon.

  5. That’s it! Move on with your lesson while the app compresses the video and uploads it to FiddleQuest where it will become immediately viewable by other FiddleQuest students.

When is a song complete?

Every teacher has their own gauge for the level of proficiency they want for any given song. A fundamental goal of FiddleQuest is to keep kids engaged and playing. One obstacle that can cause a student to stop is a teacher’s pursuit of perfection and the lack of forward progress. At FiddleQuest, our “best practices” suggestion to assess a song as complete when the student and teacher feel it is ready for playing with friends at a jam.

Why? Unlike skills, where we need the student to demonstrate mastery of each exercise before assigning the next one (because each exercise builds on the previous one), songs do not need to be ‘perfected’ to move forward. Students can enjoy these songs in social gatherings even if they are not perfect. By encouraging students to keep playing their songs at jams or with their parents or reviewing them each practice, the songs will continue to get more fluid and natural.

Examples of when to move forward and when to stay on a song:
  • The student has had the song for 1 week and they can play it in tune, but the rhythm is not quite right.

    • Keep the student on the song 1 more week and make the rhythm the focus.

  • The student has been playing the song for 3 weeks but the rhythm is a little off.

    • If you sense they are frustrated or losing energy and it can be played in a jam, then you may wish to move them forward. Tell them what the problem is but it is ‘good enough’ to enjoy with friends and will continue to get better. You may wish to go to some Bonus Songs and have them learn these before assigning the next song in the Level. Sometimes with rhythm, the student gets into their head wrong at the beginning and it can be unusually hard to fix. If the other aspects of the song are good (e.g. intonation) then the rhythm will get better and better with continued playing in groups or with you.

  • The student has been moving very fast (1 song a week). They have the present song in perfect intonation, good rhythm, but you feel like it could use some more dynamics and energy.

    • Have them spend 1 more week on the song specifying what you are looking for.

When is a skill complete?

A skill exercise is complete when the student demonstrates mastery of that exercise. Each skill exercise builds on the one before it. It is imperative that the student master each step before moving on to the next one.