Course Materials
for students registered
on workshops

Our next course will be Fiddle Foundations, which will be at Rydal Hall in the Lake District on 8th – 10th July. Do get in touch quickly if you would like to apply to join us, as we will need to check room availability at Rydal Hall. Day places (or with a camping option) may be available. The course will concentrate on the foundation techniques that are so useful for developing your fiddle playing. Left hand dexterity and helpful bowing patterns will be covered, and tunes will be chosen to put these into practice.

We will continue to ensure that we keep people as safe as possible, following any current guidelines and our Covid-19 risk assessment. The teaching room will be carefully laid out and well ventilated, and we will work with the venue to follow any additional guidance.

We will also continue to offer online workshops as well, so if you are interested, please check the Events page, or get in touch so we can keep you up to date. You can sign up for monthly updates via the Newsletter.

JSArts courses are friendly residential weekend workshops which embrace intensive study, where the combination of good humour and the highest standards of tuition provide ample opportunity to extract the very most from the course. The workshops typically take around 12 people, with a maximum of 16 participants for the Fiddle Technique and all Repertoire workshops, and a maximum of 8 participants for the Arrangement Techniques workshops (to allow for a smaller group dynamic, more sharing of ideas, and more time for individual input and working through those ideas).

The courses run from Friday afternoons (usually either 3 pm or 4 pm) until the same time on Sundays, and in 2022 will cost £348 per person (except for Arrangement Techniques courses which are £360 with smaller numbers). The course fee covers all tuition, food, daytime refreshments and overnight accommodation (all single occupancy and mostly en suite), allowing the focus to be on the music and the learning experience. Beautiful venues enhance the sense of retreat, and allow you to immerse yourself fully into the course. Non-residential rates are available on request, and include everything except bed & breakfast. For all courses, sheet music and mp3 files of the candidate tunes are provided in advance and are included in the price. Recordings of exercises and notes from the course are sent on to you afterwards.

2022 – Course Fee: £348 (except Arrangement Techniques: £360)

  • Fri 8th – Sun 10th July: Fiddle Foundations @ Rydal Hall, Lake District. A chance to go over, revise and further cement some of the core techniques we use in bowing and fingering in all of my teaching, including JSArts workshops.
  • Fri 16th – Sun 18th September: Fiddle Technique @ Shepherds Dene, Northumberland
  • Fri 23rd – Sun 25th September: Advanced Fiddle Technique @ Rydal Hall, Lake District
  • Fri 7th – Sun 9th October: Arrangement Techniques for Mixed Instruments @ Shepherds Dene, Northumberland (limited to 8 participants)
  • Fri 4th – Sun 6th November: Fiddle Technique @ Rydal Hall, Lake District

Please use the Contact Form, or email jsarts@stewarthardy.co.uk to reserve your place.

Event Listings of all JSArts Music Workshop courses

Course Descriptions

Fiddle Technique Workshops

These courses are centered around the technical issues that come with playing fiddle music, with as much emphasis on how we play as there is on what we play. The workshops delve deep into the tunes, extracting exercises to improve technique and allow its application to a wider repertoire. We focus on left-hand and bowing technique, with the stylistic interpretation of the music a key feature. Tunes are carefully selected for their technical and stylistic content whilst also bearing in mind practical considerations such as their usefulness in folk music sessions or as dance repertoire. The tunes are taught ‘as if by ear’, meaning they are taught phrase by phrase at a tempo and with sufficient repetition to enable learning without the need to read the notation. This encourages the development of aural pattern recognition and general musicality, enhancing musicianship and the enjoyment of playing music in social settings. Nevertheless we gladly make notation available at any point should that be desired or necessary recognising that participants come from a variety of backgrounds with a wide range of preferred learning methods.

Which level is suitable for me, Standard or Advanced?

The essential element that any prospective participant needs to enjoy these courses is a willingness to learn. We welcome fiddlers who are curious about their instrument and the music that is played on it, enjoy learning in a group environment and appreciate the needs of their course colleagues. We recognise that many musicians like to be challenged in their playing and learning. By providing good resources we hope to facilitate aspirational players who are content to grasp the idea of the course content without necessarily having acquired the technical skills being taught by the end of the course, but to take the material away to incorporate into their own practice. However, where the gap in ability and/or experience is too great there is the danger that the attendee will become discouraged and frustrated. In a worst case scenario this can disrupt workshops and prevent others attendees from enjoying the full benefits of the course. We would be pleased to advise anybody with concerns and would ask them to contact us to discuss the best way forward.  

Standard Level

Courses are aimed at fiddle players with a broad range of experience and ability, from competent beginner to upper intermediate, but please note they are not suitable for absolute or early beginners. We would expect players to have most of the following skills:

  • – playing simple dance tunes at steady to mid tempo (e.g. reels and jigs at 50-80 beats per minute)
  • – able to clap in time to a tune
  • – have basic control of the bow on the string
  • – able to slur notes together
  • – comfortable in the keys of G,D and A major and familiar with their note names
  • – familiarity with C major
  • – able to play basic scales without notation
  • – able to play at least 2 tunes without notation

In addition fiddlers who attend these courses often have some of the following experience:

  • – attend other fiddle workshops
  • – play with a community folk music group
  • – join in folk music sessions
  • – receive tuition on the fiddle/violin

Standard Fiddle Technique Events

Foundation Fiddle Technique (Standard Level)

The Fiddle Foundation Technique workshop is a Standard Level course but is being run as an opportunity for musicians unfamiliar with Stewart’s teaching methods to look at, in some detail, the fundamental building blocks that he uses to build stylistic interpretations. He will be teaching some of the basic bowing patterns that help to bring out the distinctive flavour of the most common tune forms. For the left hand, he’ll be concentrating on hand frames and melodic motifs (those note patterns that occur again and again in folk tunes), as well as an approach to ornamentation which is designed to help players access ornaments in a way that is both natural for them and appropriate for the tunes.

Foundation Fiddle Technique Events

Advanced Level

These courses are for proficient players with good to high technical competence, who are comfortable with their instruments and repertoire, and who may have some of the following experience and skills:

  • – playing folk tunes at dance tempo
  • – comfortable in key signatures of up to 3 sharps and 1 flat
  • – familiarity with key signatures of up to 4 sharps and 3 flats
  • – attending folk music sessions and joining in with tunes by ear
  • – leading sets of tunes in sessions
  • – playing for dancing and/or in concert bands
  • – teaching violin and/or fiddle
  • – attending advanced tutorials/workshops in other genres of music
  • – aware of the application of bowing patterns and ornamentation in fiddle music

Advanced Fiddle Technique Events

Mixed Instrument Workshops

Arrangement Techniques

Courses are open to players of any instrument (including transposing instruments) and are aimed at a broad range of abilities from intermediate to advanced. Workshops focus on techniques for arranging tunes for the combination of instruments to hand, using tools such as tempo, texture, dynamics and harmonic structure to create a musical narrative. To enjoy the full benefits of these courses, participants should be able to read notation or confidently and quickly pick up tunes and musical ideas by ear. We will aim to create well-mixed groups by monitoring the instrumentation as participants sign up for the course.

Arrangement Techniques (Mixed Instrument) Events

Advanced Style and Repertoire

Courses are open to proficient players of any instrument (including transposing instruments) who possess good to high technical competence. Workshops focus on regional styles and repertoire or compositions by a particular folk musician. Participants may have some of the following experience and skills:

  • – playing folk tunes at dance tempo
  • – attending folk music sessions and joining in or leading sets of tunes
  • – playing for dancing and/or in concert bands
  • – teaching music
  • – attending other advanced tutorials/workshops

Advanced Style & Repertoire (Mixed Instruments) Events


Rydal Hall, Ambleside LA22 9LX

Rydal Hall, Lake District

Shepherds Dene, Riding Mill, NE44 6AF

Shepherds Dene, Northumberland

Ushaw, Durham, DH7 9RH

Ushaw College, County Durham

Parcevall Hall, Appletreewick, Skipton BD23 6DG

Parcevall Hall, North Yorkshire

JSArts Music Workshops have been running for over 25 years, set up and managed by Jo & Jimmy Smith to bring folk music education to a wide range of participants. Until recently JSArts courses have been held at Jo & Jimmy’s bespoke venue in Grantham, but the time came for them to step back and hand over the reins. From July 2019, JSArts Music Workshops have been run by Stewart Hardy Music and are held in different venues around the country.