Lorrie Gunn - children's lessons & play-along videos expert

How to play Yankee Doodle

Learn to play this Independence Day classic!

In this video, Lorrie shows you how to play the popular Yankee Doodle song with your violin. And with a pinch of swing!

Released on July 3, 2021

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DISCLAIMER: The views and the opinions expressed in this video are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Virtual Sheet Music and its employees.

Video Transcription

Hello, fellow violin lovers. Join me today to learn how to play a really great 4th of July tune called Yankee Doodle. What we're going to do when we begin this song is start with what's called a pickup note, an upbeat. And when we have these in music, I like to start near the tip and play an up bow. The first note of our song is on the G string and we're going to play a first finger. So we're going to get that ready. And here we go. We're going to play one.

All right. And we go to the D string, play zero, O, one, two, zero, two, one. Now we're going to go back to that first note on the G string, a first finger. Then a D string open. Another D string. One, two, open D. Now here, we're going to go to the G string and we're going to place our third finger in the raised high position. This will be the note for C sharp, and that will be on an up bow. So let's get that.

Next is back to the open string. O, O, one, two, three, two, one, zero. Come over to the G string. Place your fingers so that your third finger is in the high position, and play three, lift two fingers to play the first finger. Two, three again, open D, D.

The next section is on the A string. So we're going to get our boat to the A string, puts your first finger down and play one, two, one, O, one, two, three. Go open A. O, one, O, over to the third finger on the D, play a two, and then an A, zero fingers. Now here, I like to put slur in. So I want to put a first finger on the A, moving on an up bow. Set the two down, and keep the bow moving. Good. Now, we're going to go back to the first finger. Play one, open A, one, two, three, one, O, three, two. Now here, I like to use a four. The note is E so we could play open E but I like to put my four down there and end with a third finger and another third finger.

Okay. That's the song. That's the verse. This is an old, old song. We know this song from the American revolution times, but really the melody goes way, way older. Some people think it might even be Irish. And in the song they talk about Yankee Doodle Dandy put a feather in his hat and called it macaroni because this song was a little bit making fun of very fancy people. So I thought a really fun thing to do with this song would be to make it swing. What I've done is I've looked at some simple ways that even if you're a beginning violin player, you could make this Yankee Doodle verse swing. So here's how we're going to do it. I'm going to go through two measure sections at a time to show you how I switched it for swinging, and then we'll play it all the way through in the end. So I hope that you stick with me so you can also be swinging with the macaroni, swing with the mac.

So I'm going to use that first note, and I'm going to play the first finger on the G string a little bit quicker. One of the swing things that makes swing great is to use the rhythm eighth note, quarter note, eighth note. So that's what I'm going to do in the beginning. So I'm going to play ba-ba ba-ba ba, so it's really fun to do it, and I know you can do it. So I get the first finger on the G string and I play one, O, O, one, two. And at this point, we are going to play two eighth notes on the open D string, but the thing that makes it sound like a swing tune is we do not play those eighth notes straight like ah, ah, we play them swinging, ba ba-ba ba-ba.

So the first one's going to be a little bit longer. So the second measure is going to have two eighth notes on the open D, two fingers. And then I'm going to play a long eighth note on the one, and jump over to the low first finger. So those two measures, when you get them smooth will sound like this.

So the next two measures, what we're going to do is we're going to be using another trick that makes swing music sound so great. And that's when you put some rests in. Rests in music are when we have silences or just a stop in the sound. So this part I'm going to play the D, put a rest in, then a quick note on the D, play a one, two, rest for the first beat of the next measure, play an open D and then go to my high third finger and put a rest there. So that takes care of the next two measures. And when you get those smooth they'll sound like this.

So after that, we have two more measures. What I'm going to do is use the beginning swing rhythm again, ba-ba ba. And then I'm going to also use the swinging eighth notes ba-ba, but this time instead of the open D string, I'm going to be using a three and then a quicker first finger. The three will be longer and I'm jumping to a one. So starting at measure, if you have the music in front of you, this would be measure five. And we're going to play an open quickly to a one. Then a quick two, back to the one, two, three, one. Here's the swing part. Two, one. Rest.

Now coming into the last note, the last two measures, actually, I'm going to do a little pickup here and play a quick open D and then I'm going to play a fast third finger to a first finger. Put a rest in and play two, three, O, O. So, the last four measures of the first part of the song. If you had the music, it would be measures five, six, seven and eight. If you get them smooth, they'll sound like this.

Now the next part, the part that goes onto the A string, what I want to do for two measures here is play it straight. That means I'm just going to play it exactly the way I did the first time through on the chorus. So I'll show you that now. We're on the first finger. One, two, one, O, one, two, three, O, one, O, go to the D string, play three, a two on the D, and over to the A string. So that part will pop back in. After our swing part, we'll have a part that's straight and everyone will recognize it.

Now coming into the next two measures, we're going to do something really fun. It's going to make the end of the verse sound great. We're going to add an open D string. So this is right at the part of the song where I like to put a slur. You'll be starting with your first finger on the A string and putting your bow onto the A and the D string. So what'll happen is it will sound like this. One, two, one, O, one, two, three.

Now, at this point, move your bow over to be just on the A string, because we're going to put in a tag, a tag that's going to sound hopefully very swinging styley. So the tag, what we do is we're going to walk down through the fingers on the A string. We just ended on that D, so I'm going to replay the D and I'm going to play them unevenly. They'll look like regular eighth notes in the music, but you're going to play them unevenly. So you play three, two, one, O. And I'm going to play the one, O again. Then I'm going to play a three, O, a two, four. I'm going to go back to my two. And at this point I am going to add in music a triplet, which means I am going to stuff three notes into the space where we've been fitting two for this song. So I'm going to also put it all on one bow so that it sounds super smooth. So the ending is going to come in two, three, four, three, O, D.

So the second half will sound ... I'm going to start at the part where it's straight and I'm going to play it through to the end so that you can hear what it will sound like when you get it smooth. Here we go.

So in the final one minute of this video, what I will do is run the entire verse through in the swing style so that maybe you can work on this as well and get it to sound really good for the holidays. Here we go.

Well, that's it. I hope you enjoy learning this piece and swinging with the mac as well. If you want, There is a free sheet music download for the music in this video from VirtualSheetMusic.com
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Comments, Questions, Requests:

A G Maxwell on July 22, 2021 @8:30 am PST
very helpful, simple and easy, friendly style.
reply
Lorrie Gunn - host, on July 22, 2021 @10:43 am PST
Thank you so much! I hope you had some fun playing swing violin.
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