Fiddle Lesson: Learn to Play “Whiskey Before Breakfast” with Brittany Haas
As a bluegrass musician of any instrument, it’s important to have a handful of classic tunes under your belt as part of your repertoire and know how to play them. These tunes are often performed by aspiring players and professionals alike and are frequently requested at everything from jam sessions to formal concerts and beyond. Therefore, it’s essential to learn these classic pieces as you progress on your musical bluegrass journey.
One such piece, in particular, is a classic fiddle tune called “Whiskey Before Breakfast.” While the origin of the tune and the identity of its original composer are highly controversial, the first written arrangement of the tune has been credited to Canadian fiddler and composer, Andy de Jarlis, who published a chart in his book Canadian Fiddle Tunes from Red River Valley in 1957. Since then, “Whiskey Before Breakfast” has become a staple of the bluegrass genre, and has been performed and recorded by artists ranging from Doc Watson to Norman Blake, Bobby Hicks, Chris Eldridge & Julian Lage, and more.
In this online fiddle lesson, master fiddler, ArtistWorks bluegrass instructor, and founding member of the popular string outfit Hawktail, Brittany Haas, teaches how to play “Whiskey Before Breakfast” in the popular key of D Major.
“‘Whiskey Before Breakfast’ is a total classic and it’s a really important tune to have in your repertoire,” Brittany explains. “We’re going to learn it in one of the more popular keys that it’s typically performed in — D major.”
The melody of “Whiskey Before Breakfast” is comprised mostly of consistent, flowing 8th-note phrases that fall solely on the scale tones of the key. If you’re just beginning your musical journey on the fiddle, make sure to cut yourself some slack and remain patient as you learn this tune. The longer 8th-note melodies require some finger strength and stamina. As a result, it may take a little time to develop the finger muscles that will allow you to really nail this piece.
“We’ve got a lot of scalar stuff going on in the melody of this tune,” explains Brittany. “It may feel tricky to get under your fingers at first, but, because the melody is so scalar, this piece will quickly become second nature.”
Learn to Play “Whiskey Before Breakfast” with Brittany Haas:
Have you always wanted to learn how to play the fiddle? Through our comprehensive fiddle lessons online and Video Exchange Learning platform here at ArtistWorks, you can learn from internationally renowned players, like Brittany Haas, and get personal feedback on your playing.
Brittany’s course starts with the basics and teaches everything from beginner fiddle to advanced performance techniques, improvisation methods, classic old time and bluegrass tunes, and Brittany’s unique and critically acclaimed approach to the instrument. So, whether you’re a beginner, intermediate, or advanced player, all levels are welcome and all students will grow and improve their skills as fiddle players and musicians.