About fiddling

How My Secret Helps You Learn to Play the Fiddle–

(I Was a Violinist and Passed as a Fiddler)

There are brilliant fiddlers who do not know how to teach. I’ve met many of them. Their incredible ability was learned intuitively, often directly from a fiddle mentor..

My path of learning was conscious. This makes me a better teacher. And I’ve been teaching for forty years. Whew!

At the beginning of my journey to the heart of the fiddlers’ circle, I was a violinist. More exactly, I was a second stand, second violinist in a second class orchestra. In other words, I had some ability, but not enough to earn a living as a symphony violinist.

I was drawn to fiddling, at age 32, by the pull of improvisation. I left the world of orchestra playing and joined a folk music trio. Of the three of us, only the guitar player had a clue. He advised me to listen to Vassar Clements.

Soon I had a chance to do that in Nashville. I also met Sid Harkreader, an original Grand Old Opry fiddler. Hearing his version of “Mississippi Sawyer” gave me a love for that tune I have to this day. I used my listening and learning skill, developed from many years of violin study.

After about a year later I migrated to a bluegrass band that needed a fiddler. My fiddle education really got going. I listened to fiddlers live and recorded. I did the best I could to figure out how to copy the sound.

After a year I passed from violinist playing fiddle music to fiddler. A man came up to me after a concert at a shopping mall. He said that he played the same instrument, but he was a violinist. I was delighted by that. I had “passed.”

What I learned consciously, I can teach to you. No mystification, no obscure comment or technique. It’s all out front where you can see and hear.

But, even after I passed as a fiddler, there were a some crucial elements I had to learn.

Getting It at The Galax Old Time Fiddlers’ Convention

One vital concept came to me after a whole weekend at the Galax Fiddlers’ convention. Having been drenched in that old-timey sound for three days, suddenly, I got it. It was obvious. And now I teach it.


Now, here’s where I parade my real credentials.

Short version

Florida State Champion Fiddler, Twin Fiddle Championship;  students who are first prize winners, and play in hot bands;

Master of Music in Composition and Violin; produced four cassette albums, five CD’s, a video fiddle lesson, featured soloist in bluegrass bands, contradance bands, symphony orchestras, yada, yada, yada.

E-mail: chalford[at]earthlink[dot]net
(727) 242-3934

Elan Chalford
33 Lakeshore Dr.
Palm Harbor, FL 34684


At the Florida Folk Festival, Elan leads a fiddle workshop in the Top 10 Fiddle Tunes.

Extensive Biographical Sketch

Violinist, fiddler and composer, Elan Chalford, has extensive accomplishment in musical theater, opera, orchestral and chamber music concerts.

As a stage performer, he has performed across the musical spectrum in a wide variety of settings, both legit and improv. These include popular music, folk and acoustic, country and western, rock and roll, bluegrass, jazz and cabaret.

He has played the stage fiddler in Foxfire, Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Fiddler on the Roof, Phantom of the Opera, A Christmas Carol, Robber Bridegroom and Die Fleidermaus.

Additionally he has led, as Concertmaster, the orchestras for South Pacific, The Mikado, A Most Happy Fellow, HMS Pinafore.
Concertmaster experience includes leading the Clearwater Symphony Orchestra, The Masters’ Chamber Orchestra, The Richey Community Orchestra, and The Summit Orchestra and Singers.

Fiddle awards include First Prize in the Florida State Fiddlers’ Contest and First Prize in the Twin Fiddle Division.

He has produced and recorded fiddle albums entitled, Fluke, Don’t Bet Your Money on the Shanghai, A Fiddler’s Year, Unhewn Quartz, Elan Go Brag, Top 10 Fiddle Tunes, Touch Lia Fal and Quick Fix.

Featured Presenter for the Florida Humanities Conference in Blues Fiddling, at Great Explorations in Westward Ho the Fiddler.

Current project explores the healing effects of the A-432 Hz tuning in music.

See what on Tampa student says who didn’t take sessons from me :

A friend whom I work with in Tampa took lessons with you same time I was taking lessons from different teachers. I saw how much more she advanced and it’s obvious that your lessons were much more effective than the lessons I had . Karina C