Behind the book...

Lay a question:

People would ask me, "Why have I stopped improving? I practice all the time, but I'm not getting any better." As I worked with students - hundreds of students over twenty years - I saw over and over again that technique is not something that we need solely in the beginning of our fiddle or violin journey, but over, and over again with each new step forward we take. If the next technical step is not learned or refined, we stop growing. 

In Fiddle Fundamentals, I have utilized by study of the brain and music training with years of teaching to create a book that facilitates learning according to how our brain actually functions. 

Fiddle Fundamentals uses simple ideas about learning, supported by brain research, to teach important concepts. Specifically, a main focus of my approach to teaching is about reducing the load on memory by:

• Providing checklists for key concepts;

• Isolating right and left hand technique;

• Focusing on building automaticity;

• Presenting concepts in a step-by-step format.

Does this sound like what you have been searching for? Try it, and see why it is rated so highly by teachers and students alike!

Praise for Once Upon A String: Fiddle Fundamentals

Congratulations Shamma! You have put together a book that clearly explains the basics of learning to play a fiddle! I love how you have explained everything simply and effectively! The artwork throughout keeps it light and fun. Nothing to be fearful of here - just excited to learn the fiddle! We will certainly be using much of your system to help teach our own children! Thank you.

Natalie MacMaster
Cape Breton Fiddler


In this book, Shamma breaks it down to the very fundamentals of fiddling and explains how to hold and play the fiddle in a way that is fun and easy to understand.  She offers fun challenges, creative practice tips, and checklists that will help you track your progress and reach your goals faster so that you will be playing the fiddle in no time!

Andy Leftwich

Bluegrass Fiddler


I am constantly learning and relearning the fiddle myself, and so I am delighted that Shamma, with a stellar track record of teaching violin has given us this new book of fiddle fundamentals.  I imagine using her techniques to teach young fiddlers, but I also imagine that Shamma’s book will provide a guide for all the self-starters out there. With equal attention to practicing and achieving, this is a great beginner fiddling book!

Liz Carroll

Irish fiddler


I absolutely love Shamma Sabir’s “Once Upon A String” book. I have a 7-year old student who I’ve tried with other method books to teach how to read music. Her attention span wasn’t able to be held for long due to the dryness and lack of “fun,” for lack of a better description. With “Once Upon A String,” she loves the pictures, the flow of the lessons, and she is actually learning with ease! I eagerly await the next one in the series!

Pattie Kusturok

Canadian Fiddler