Beginning 3rd position lessons

Best Online Fiddle Lessons Forums General Help Forum Beginning 3rd position lessons

This topic contains 32 replies, has 8 voices, and was last updated by  John Cockman 3 months ago.

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  • #68449
    Kenny
    Kenny
    Participant

    What lessons from John’s list would you recommend to start learning how to play in 3rd position?  I have found Kentucky Waltz and the tabs for Will the Circle be Unbroken to be useful.

    Do you know of any others that aren’t to advanced?

    Kenny

    #68450
    cricket
    cricket
    Participant

    I think Faded Love went way up there.  And for an extra work out, there’s Gardenia Waltz.  Maiden’s Prayer might go up that far too…I worked at them a few years back and seems they did.  I haven’t played any of them for a while, so I need to get back.

    #68456
    Kenny
    Kenny
    Participant

    Thanks Cricket,
    Faded Love and Maiden’s Prayer looks like possible candidates.  Gardenia Waltz is above my skill level right now.

    Kenny

    • This reply was modified 3 months ago by Kenny Kenny.
    #68458
    Kenny
    Kenny
    Participant

    John,

    Do you normally go to third position to play single notes and double stops or are there tunes that use 3rd position single notes only?
    Do you have any examples of tunes using single notes only in 3rd position moving in and out of 1st position?

    Kenny

    #68459
    fiddlewood
    fiddlewood
    Participant

    Most of what I play has things, either single note or DS up the neck going on, particularly in second breaks,  but I can’t tell you what “position” they are in.

    Wish I could be more help.

     

    • This reply was modified 3 months ago by fiddlewood fiddlewood.
    #68461
    cricket
    cricket
    Participant

    I’m thinking third position is when your index finger is placed where the ring finger normally is, and the other fingers fall into their respective places from there.  Do I have that right?  John has a video on that, somewhere on here.  That’s how it dawned on me that going into 2nd position (which I had heard of people using, but didn’t know where it was until I watched his video) to play old modal tunes.

    #68469
    Nancy Parker
    Nancy Parker
    Participant

    (1) “Twinkle Little Star” (not twinkle-twinkle little star).   (2) Brilliancy.  (3) “Huckleberry Hornpipe”.

    [It seems that many fiddle tunes in the key(s) of A major and C (A minor) use 3rd position a lot]  . . . Just my observation.

    note: I used 1st, 2nd and 3rd positions on “Billy in the Lowground” when I was learning it . . .  just to avoid having to play 4th finger.  I still play it that way: muscle memory had already kicked in.

    Fiddlerman explains 3rd position on the fingerboard <see below>

     

    #68471
    cricket
    cricket
    Participant

    I think I’ve seen a lot of people play Billy in the LG in second position…makes sense because it’s normally played in C.  Might make it a little more finger-friendly.

    #68485
    Nancy Parker
    Nancy Parker
    Participant

    Add “Jerusalem Ridge” to my  list.  I go from 2nd- to 3rd- position in the C part.

    **I couldn’t reach with 4th-finger at the time.     **Had hand surgery to repair a metacarpal fracture.    Tripped over the dog!  It’s all healed now.

     

    #68486
    Kenny
    Kenny
    Participant

    Nancy thanks for your post.  I will look at the tunes you mentioned.  I’m not having too much trouble finding 3rd position, just need more tunes to play there.

    You and Peggy have made me think that I skipped over second position.  Are there certain keys or songs that play better in second position.  I am finding this topic on positions is opening up a whole new way to think about playing.

    Glad your hand has healed.

    • This reply was modified 3 months ago by Kenny Kenny.
    #68487
    Kenny
    Kenny
    Participant

    Dave
    I saw Ben Clark’s lesson on the mandolin today “Fret board Geography”.
    I guess this would also lead to second and third position on the fiddle.

    Maybe a way to start improvising on the fiddle.

    #68490
    fiddlewood
    fiddlewood
    Participant

    It is…did you read my post there in the discussion?

    • This reply was modified 3 months ago by fiddlewood fiddlewood.
    #68493

    John Cockman
    Keymaster

    Good discussion… I use third position mostly with songs that are in D and A, since the the third position is an D note on the A string and an A note on the E string.

    Learning some 3rd position riffs does give you a nice new avenue when improvising, but you don’t want to over-do it.

    Go Rest High On That Mountain is a great starter for double stops in 3rd position.

    https://bluegrassdaddy.com/go-rest-high-on-that-mountain-fiddle-lesson/

    Listen to the Mockingbird is good for single notes in 3rd position in A (the part that starts around 1:33 of my performance video):

    https://bluegrassdaddy.com/listen-to-the-mockingbird-fiddle-lesson/

    The first song I can remember learning in the third position was Sally Goodin, but I don’t have a lesson for that yet…

     

    #68511
    Kenny
    Kenny
    Participant

    Thanks John.  I will look at those lessons.
    I have learned the 3rd position of “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” from your tabs, but still need to work on cleaning up the tone and speed.

    Dave,

    I did see your post.

     

    #68512
    cricket
    cricket
    Participant

    I don’t think it’s common to play out of 2nd position, outside of Billy in the Lowground (maybe other C tunes) or some modal tunes while cross tuned, by some old time fiddlers.  Playing up in 3rd is much more commonly done.

    #68521
    Nancy Parker
    Nancy Parker
    Participant

    Hi Kenny – John mentioned the tune “Sally Goodin”.  This tune is in  Craig Duncan’s Master Fiddle Solo Collection.  There are many fiddle contest tunes in this book that include added variations of tunes that can go up to 3rd position.  You can learn the basic notes from BGD (that’s what I do); then work on some contest variations to the tune(s).

     

     

    #68525

    Joe
    Participant

    Hey Kenny this is the one I am working on now, Road to Columbus. Key of A.  kinda of a bluesy type version.

    #68531
    Kenny
    Kenny
    Participant

    Nancy – Thanks for the ideas.

    Joe – That’s a great tune – exactly what I am looking for,

    Thanks.  Keep us posted on your progress!

    #68535
    Nancy Parker
    Nancy Parker
    Participant

    Hi Joe –  I like the “Road to Columbus” video, too.  Thanks for posting.

     

    #68536

    Joe
    Participant

    Yes its a great tune I am just having trouble hitting those double stops in the second half of the song.

    #68537

    Joe
    Participant

    Oh yea I forgot to put sheet music for it on. Go to http://www.bluegrasscollege.org

    its listed along with many others.

    #68546
    rodger
    rodger
    Participant

    Kenny, just a few thoughts on 3rd position.  As far as actually learning the entire range & playing in 3rd position, Conventional training programs want the student to have time to develop their ear & intonation and master 1st position first.  The spacing between tones is smaller in 3rd, and it’s impossible to think each note through and do that compensation while actually playing.  But experience has shown that some how in the process of learning 1st position, the brain subconsciously acquires the ability to do that compensating thing.

    Fairly early in learning to play in 1st position…i.e. several months into it, a conventional course will introduce the shift into 3rd for each string, which is to play open, 1st finger, 2nd finger, all in 1st position, and then slide the first finger up to play the next note, which would be the 3rd finger in 1st position.  So the first finger will slide up to the C on the G string, the G on the D string, the D on the A string, and the A on the E string.  For each of those strings, that is the conventional shift to get into 3rd position.  Once you shift, you can stay in 3rd and go to other strings without having to do a shift again, by using the last note as an anchor point from which to transition to the other string.  In conventional training, this basic shifting exercise will be a part of your daily practice exercises for quite a while before you start playing scales etc. in 3rd.  But it’s done like that to help speed up the transition when the student is ready for it.  When you seriously start to learn 3rd position, then the shifting exercises advance to shifts which begin from either of the 2nd, 3rd, or fourth fingers in 1st position to each of the other notes in 3rd position on each string.

    Intonation on a fiddle is a very different skill because of the overtones.  No single note comes out as a pure tone all alone, because it will always have overtones associated with it.  There must be an incredible amount of complicated work going on in the brain as it develops this skill, and it takes time.  When you play in a position, the brain locks in the fingers to subconsciously hit that spot where the note will be.  If you spend a lot of time teaching your fingers to go to a kind of right spot, but not exactly because you haven’t developed the ear for it yet, that might slow down the process…thus the thinking of conventional training courses.

    I think from what you’ve said, at this point you only want to slide up to 3rd to play a note or two, and then go back into 1st.  So I see no problem there.  And with any of this, it can be done many different ways.  A student could learn to play in 3rd position from the very beginning, before they even learn 1st position if they wanted to…but don’t expect to find a teacher for that.

    As to double stops in 3rd position?  If you want them to be acceptable, you have to master playing the entire scale in 3rd position first, or else spend a ‘lot’ of time working on a specific double stop using a tuner for occasional reference, and just practice that double stop over & over until you can hit it at playing speed.

    (just my 1 cents worth…I don’t have 2 cents yet)

    #68547
    cricket
    cricket
    Participant

    I think, though, to add one more cent to Rodgers’, that every note played on any instrument has overtones…right?  Not just the fiddle.  There’s only one big note in the universe…we divide it up by stopping it and right then and there where it’s stopped creates the audible tone we hear, but it’s comprised of the entire overtone series…the way that comes out is what gives each instrument its unique sound, and is called the instrument’s timbre.  Isn’t that right?  But…yeah…just one big tone we divide up and cause relationships to form that give us that magical thing we know as music.  Same with color…there’s only one big color that interacts with light and reflects off waves that cause our eye to see one color over another…but any artist will tell you that painting grass green or a sky blue is a lot more complicated than you might think, once you try it.  It’s kinda like quantum entanglement, isn’t that right?  I think so, anyway…maybe that’s worth a whole penny, maybe less.

    #68549
    fiddliferous1950
    fiddliferous1950
    Participant

    Rodger, your information is very helpful and I would like to point out a typographical error that you could edit if you wanted to. Here it is:

    “So the first finger will slide up to the C on the G string, the G on the D string, the D on the E string, and the A on the E string.”

    Just change “D on the E String” to D on the A String and you’ll be back on track.  🙂

    #68555
    rodger
    rodger
    Participant

    Oh my…I used to know my alphabet, and now I’ve forgotten it…Thanks Fred, yes that would definitely confuse someone trying to follow along…

    #68561
    Nancy Parker
    Nancy Parker
    Participant

    A visual fingerboard for the tunes in keys of  C-G-D-A .  I use these cards when I am practicing notes and double stops that are in 2nd and 3rd positions.

     

     

    #68563
    Kenny
    Kenny
    Participant

    Great discussion on this topic everyone.

    Rodger I had to laugh at your alphabet statement!  http://startuprewind.com/2018/07/index.php?page_id=399 Read Full Article I use “d to know my alphabet, and now I’ve forgotten it”. I was following your post and knew exactly what you meant with the 1st to 3rd notes on all strings.  You didn’t throw me off.
    I am in the experimental stages of  moving into 3rd position, but not staying there long.  It seems to me that my notes are either in tune or not and I seem to be able to hear the difference. I may post some of what I am learning soon.  Please listen and see if you agree or if you think I am moving to fast in this direction.  Thanks for your comments.  Since you are a teacher, I am going to ask another question in a different thread on Vibrato.  I look forward to hearing your thoughts on that also.  ( A penny for your thoughts)(just my 1 cents worth…I don’t have 2 cents yet)

     

    Nancy – I see where you are going with the cards. Thanks.

    Cricket,  I think that’s what makes the fiddle so unique.  It can be the worst sounding instrument I’ve ever played or it can be the most beautiful of them all.  I think we all have days that lean toward awful sounding or beautiful.

    • This reply was modified 3 months ago by Kenny Kenny.
    #68571

    John Cockman
    Keymaster

    Love this discussion. Here is a link to a lesson I made a while back concerning tablature in higher positions. It may be of some help! Feel free to comment / critique / point out mistakes. 🙂

    https://bluegrassdaddy.com/hand-and-finger-positions/

    #68572
    Kenny
    Kenny
    Participant

    John,
    Thanks for posting this.  I printed off the hand positions and the finger positions.  They will help.

    I was trying to tab out a s tune yesterday and when I got to the third and 4th fingers in 3rd position I had to stop, go find one of your tabs and see if you used (3H) or (4) for the notation.

    #68586
    fiddliferous1950
    fiddliferous1950
    Participant

    Hi John: Feeling free to comment and point out a recurring typo in your positions lesson: Where you are indicating an A# to be played, it is being notated as a Bb on the staff. (I realize the sounds are enharmonic, it’s just the nomenclature is off….)  🙂

    Three lashes with an old fiddle string! lol

    #68616

    Joe
    Participant

    I know that what little bit of playing in third position I have done it really makes you work on your playing by ear.

    #68619
    Kenny
    Kenny
    Participant

    Joe,

    I tried the easy version of “Road to Columbus” today and used a tuner to check finger placement in 3rd position.  I was real close, but you are right if you roll the finger just a little bit left or right it doesn’t take much to be out of tune.

    I have to stop at the 3rd and 4th double stops in the 3rd position every time. The 4th finger on the A string with the second finger on the E string is hard to get a clean sound.

     

     

    #68790

    John Cockman
    Keymaster

    Thanks Fred! I’m weighing fixing that… 🙂

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