Fiddle Week CLASSES - August 6-12, 2017

(Unless otherwise indicated, all classes have a limit of 15)

(Christian Howes)
This class for intermediate players is open to other instruments. Throughout the week we will cover many contrasting approaches to functional musicianship, as well as contrasting approaches to the creative practices of improvisation, arranging, and composition. Stylistically, we will be all over the map from fiddle styles to blues, funk, traditional jazz and “free” playing. We will break out into small groups at times, play together at times, and allow some times for everyone to do their own thing. If you don’t want your mind blown this isn’t for you. We will go from the concrete to the abstract! Concrete: modes and scales – practical approaches to applying understanding of modal approach to improvisation and composition; voice leading and a chord tone based approach; learning to playing bass lines and inner voice parts in a range of styles. Abstract: non-tonal improvisation and composition games; selecting parameters from an infinite universe as a way of articulating a cohesive musical value system and expand creativity. Think: “Play the color purple”. Oh, and we’ll talk about jazz, i.e. “swing” too.

(Christian Howes)
This class will cover the same topics as in the class description above, but at a pace and level more appropriate for advanced players.

In this class for intermediate players, we will start with the classic fiddle kickoffs of familiar Monroe and Flatt & Scruggs standards that every bluegrass fiddle player should have in their repertoire such as “Foot Prints in the Snow,” “Uncle Pen,” and “Why Did You Wander?” We will cover the chord changes of each song, and learn how to apply that knowledge to creating fills behind the singer and how to create an instrumental break. We will also learn several classic bluegrass instrumentals, and likewise cover the chords and how to create interesting breaks.

This class will cover similar traditional bluegrass material, moving on to more difficult classic songs and tunes, and proceeding at a faster pace. We will also cover creating harmony parts for twin fiddling.

This class is for intermediate fiddlers. We will learn some of Eddie’s favorite tunes, especially tunes he would consider good fiddlers’ convention tunes (tunes with a lot of drive). Emphasis will be placed on bowing and expanding your repertoire. We will try to learn at least two tunes a day if possible. Students are encouraged to bring recording devices to this class. Come prepared to have a good time as well! We will talk about different regional styles of southern Appalachia, and the different influences they have had on Eddie’s personal style. He will be teaching tunes in standard tuning as well as cross-key, and we may even cross the border of Virginia into the West Virginia repertoire! Eddie tries to show up at least 20 minutes early each day and go over what we have learned so far that week, a sort of warm-up session before the class. A CD of the tunes that we will learn (slowed down version) will be provided as well.

This class will cover the same topics as in the class description above, but at a pace and level more appropriate for advanced players.

In this intermediate class, we will explore the similarities and differences of bluegrass, western swing/Texas style, and jazz. Although these styles have many unique qualities, there is also quite a bit of overlap in repertoire and vocabulary. This is primarily a repertoire- based class, so students can expect to come away with a number of standard (and maybe obscure) tunes in each genre. In addition, we will also use these tunes as vehicles to talk about basic improvising. Some experience with learning by ear is suggested. There will be no sheet music so please bring a recording device.

Improvisation is often thought of as this high-pressure moment in the spotlight to show off your licks. While there is nothing wrong with that in moderation, my favorite improvisers often seem to have a more communal approach to the whole thing. In this class, we will primarily focus on rhythm/groove, melody/voice leading and harmony. However, we will also explore how these fundamental techniques can help create a mood/emotion with your solo, and open up your ears to interacting with fellow musicians. Please bring a notebook and a recording device.

We will learn a handful of old-time fiddle chestnuts, and use them to explore some techniques for rhythmic bowing. Tunes will be taught by ear in the keys of A, D, G, and C. Possible discussion topics include learning by ear, developing intonation, playing with others, and making a beautiful tone. Please bring a recording device, a tuner, and extra strings.

This class will be focused on building repertoire, getting rhythm in the bow, and developing style in old-time fiddling. Tunes will be drawn from a variety of fiddlers from NC, KY, VA, and WV, exploring different techniques that are used for accentuating rhythm. We will discuss making choices while learning new tunes, varying rhythms while playing, and some basic ideas for breaking free from playing a tune the same way each time. Some discussion of improving mechanics (tone, articulation, ergonomics) and exposure to source recordings will be included. Please bring a recording device and be prepared to play in a few different keys and tunings.

If you are curious about the music of La Belle Province than these workshops are for you. You’ll have the opportunity of learning all kinds of Québécois repertoire including Brandys (3/4), Galops, Cotillions, Jigs, Marches and ‘straight’ reels with an even or odd number of parts. This class’ pace will be averaged from the sum of the levels of the participants (intermediate level suggested). Please bring a small recording device as all melodies will be taught by ear. Bowing and ornamentation will be discussed and taught as well as how to incorporate the music in your own personal style. No sheet music will be given in class.

This advanced class will be geared toward players who already have a good knowledge of the music of Québéc and/or are at a high level of proficiency on their instrument. We will dig deep into Québéc’s well of ‘free metered’ and ‘square’ tunes and the accents that bring them to life. Rhythmic and melodic variations will be discussed and taught with the purpose of adding them to your fiddling bag of tricks. Foot percussion will also be on the menu along with how to embark on the road of accompanying yourself by multitasking foot-tapping and melody-playing all at once. Please bring a small recording device as all melodies will be taught by ear. No sheet music will be given in class.

You should have a basic understanding of where all of the notes are in first position, basic bowing patterns, and basic sound production. You may or may not have had specific instruction in Irish fiddling before but hopefully you have heard it before and maybe even play a couple of Irish tunes already. I will cover basics for learning by ear, some technique as it applies to Irish music, practice techniques for ornamentation and bowing in an Irish style and we will learn as many tunes as the general class level allows, touching on various types of tunes, jigs, reels, hornpipes, marches, etc. I will happily provide sheet music for tunes and anything else we cover in the class. Please come with a recorder of some kind (*most important*), a pencil and your questions.

For this class, we will use tunes you already know (as well as new tunes that I will teach in the class) to explore variations, ornamentation, style, and bowings. You should have more than two years of experience in learning by ear and should have a list of Irish fiddle players that you have listened to regularly. We will not cover much basic technique in this class but might touch on specific topics like learning harmony and theory through Irish music, dealing with the issues that arise from learning various types of tunes and some good practice techniques applicable to all styles of fiddling. I will provide some sheet music for specific topics like ornamentation and bowing and I hope to give you a tune a day, touching on the various types of tunes in Irish music, jigs, reels, hornpipes, marches, etc. Please come with a recorder of some kind (*most important*), a pencil and your questions.

This course explores the diverse repertoire and playing styles of Scottish fiddling. We’ll learn tunes and work on ornamentation and bowing, phrasing and expression, and playing “in the groove.” We’ll also discuss Scotland’s regional fiddle styles and fiddling history, and listen to recordings of players from different styles. Technique and theory topics – tone, practice methods, simple chord theory, playing with speed and precision – will be included as appropriate. All tunes, including strathspeys, reels, jigs, marches, and slow airs, will be taught by ear. Students are encouraged to bring a small audio recorder to record musical examples and repertoire. (Class limit: 20)

Do you want to learn tunes faster? Be able to hear a tune and then just play it? This course will help you develop the all-important skill of transferring a melody from your ear to your instrument. We’ll explore different listening, singing, visualization, audiation, and playing exercises that can strengthen your aural learning skills and get your ear, brain, and fingers all working together. We’ll learn to listen for form and patterns, use basic chord theory to help figure out the notes of a tune, and let our ears guide us to explore our instruments in new ways. We’ll also learn a few tunes in the process! All instruments are welcome. Students may be at any playing level, but should have at least a basic facility on their instrument.

In this class we will make our way through the history of Cajun fiddling and culture from 1929 to the present. We will cover the spectrum of Cajun and creole fiddle styles highlighting fiddlers such as Dennis McGee, Canray Fontenot, Doc Guidry, Will and Dewey Balfa. We will delve into stylistic variations throughout southwestern Louisiana, such as the Texas influence on players like Harry Choats. We will learn aspects of the style including double stops, fiddling as an integral part of song, bowing and rhythm. This class will proceed at an appropriate pace for intermediate fiddle players, and will be directed by student interests and experience.

This class will cover essentially the same material as the intermediate section above, but at a pace more appropriate for advanced players, and once again, the class will be directed by student interests and experience.

The blues are truly a foundation and inspiration for most traditional and contemporary vernacular American music. This adventure is open to all bowed instruments. We’ll listen to historical references from early recordings to the present. We’ll play basic forms (the 8, 12 and 16 bar and grill). We’ll feel the grooves from ballads to stomps, rumbas to shuffles, hand jive to swing. We’ll reference the melodic guidepost of the human voice, bending long and short tones and learn some tunes/songs that reflect them. We’ll also tackle how to translate the “feel” of the grease, the groan and the growl of the blues to your instrument, and importantly, we’ll address taking your time sayin’ a bunch without playin’ a bunch of notes. Playin’ the blues suggests the “technique” of clarity over correctness – of intuition, release and expression of your personal emotion. Surrender to the feeling and you’ll do it! We’ll have a great time!

Explore the value of twisting, tweaking, building up and stripping down the content and how it sounds in musical stories. Take a tune “shopping” for new clothes. Play “dress up” with existing songs. Mix and match musical styles in a composition. See how packaging changes the way we connect to the content of a song or tune – yours or other people’s. Bring material you’d like to explore. Joe will provide tune and song examples as well. We’ll all be surprised at the results. From detailing with tiny paint brushes to bold strokes with a paint roller with or without a drop cloth – it’s all about fearless possibility in creativity. Learning to not become attached to an outcome enables one to move and flow with variety and new ideas. Re-framing words, rhythms and melodies reminds us of the long, historical love affair between tradition and innovation. Everyone has a place and space to create anew from the old, the borrowed and the blue. Let’s liberate ourselves from the tyranny of common sense while exploring Free Range Folk.

This class will explore melodic and harmonic improvisation using techniques common to aural traditions from many cultures, including America, Eastern Europe, the Balkans, and the Middle East. We’ll work on soloing without fear, playing what you hear, jamming in every key, learning how to practice, harmony, rhythm, and groove and writing our own class tune (improvisation frozen in a moment). Everyone should be prepared to do some singing as well as playing. You are encouraged to bring a notebook and a recording device.

This class is for advanced musicians who are interested in exploring Jewish fiddle traditions from Eastern Europe. We’ll learn how to play melody, harmony, and accompaniment (all traditional roles for fiddles in this genre!), and will also work on ornamentation and bow technique. Participants should be comfortable learning by ear and have good facility on their instrument. Please bring a recording device to class.

The traditional violin-driven music of southwestern Mexico’s Tierra Caliente comprises a dozen styles, ranging from highly syncopated 6/8 dance music to hauntingly beautiful waltzes, danzones, boleros, tangos, foxtrots, marches, pasodobles, polkas, funeral pieces and more. The music’s crazy-quilt roots stretch from Africa to Europe and from Cuba to Argentina. I’ll have both recordings and sheet music of all of the pieces we’ll be learning, allowing ear players as well as note readers to participate. This music is gorgeous, sophisticated and eminently playable, totally different from the better-known Mariachi and Tex-Mex styles often associated with Mexican violin music. Join me and check out the sizzling music of the Hot Lands!

Juan Reynoso, my main violin teacher, was a harmony nut. He was enamored of a unique Mexican style of three-part, close-voiced harmony quite different from the western swing, bluegrass or big band harmony we’re accustomed to hearing. During our lessons, learning the melody was only the first step. A tune didn’t leave Juan’s casita until it was completely harmonized for violin trio. I’ve expanded many of these arrangements to include cello, bass, plucked strings, wind and brass instruments and percussion. At some music camps I have been fortunate to lead Mexican bands as large as 18 pieces, at times including cellos, oboes, clarinets, trumpets, mandolins, guitars and, of course, lots of fiddles. Vocalists are always welcome as well, and I’ll provide lyric sheets. You’ll dig the trio harmonies, contracantos (counter-melodies) and over-the-top romantic bolero lyrics. Grande fun is guaranteed!

Dust off that fiddle you’ve been saving for when you have more time to practice and make your plans now to join us for Fiddle Week! Using time-tested methods, Laura will help beginners get started making fun-fiddling memories and novice fiddlers review basic fiddling skills. Take this class if you want to learn how to hold your fiddle, tune it, finger and bow it so that you can back up and play classic fiddle tunes from the old-time and Celtic traditions. Emphasis will be placed on learning by ear, but printed notations of tunes and exercises will be provided. You will get the most out of this class if you bring a fiddle and bow in playable condition, an extra set of strings, rosin, a shoulder rest, and an electronic tuner.

For cellists who are interested in playing a key role in accompanying fellow musicians and colleagues, we will focus more on utilizing the cello as a bass through jazz, swing, and traditional music styles. Come ready to explore pizzicato techniques, constructing successful bass lines, and the beginning phases of improvising a cohesive solo. Instruction will be aural with small fragments of handouts and written assignments.

ADVANCED CELLO (Malcolm Parson)
Continuing with concepts from the intermediate class, we will expand upon these ideas by discussing more ways to accompany as a bass as well as other improvisational techniques. Come ready to discuss muted pizzicato, playing slow over fast, chordal comping, and accessing different tonalities over more complex tunes. Instruction will be aural with small fragments of handouts and written assignments.

This class will cover intermediate principles of bass performance and accompaniment applicable to various musical settings including jazz, swing, and traditional music styles. Topics include bass line construction, following chord progressions, timing and feel, and ear training. Concepts of bass soloing and improvisation will also be introduced. The class will mainly use pizzicato technique, although other techniques may be discussed if applicable (e.g., slap technique, bowing). Students should possess fundamental technical skills and know basic scales.

This class focuses on how to play powerful bluegrass rhythm guitar. We will work on alternating-bass styles of playing as well as using bass runs and other motion within the chords to accent your vocals or the instrumentalists you’re playing with. In addition to these basic building-block techniques, we will learn the rhythm accompaniment part to one bluegrass song or tune each day. The class will present songs/tunes that allow you to see the rhythm patterns that work effectively in most of the first position chord families. We will also discuss how to use a capo to get the song in a key to fit your voice. All levels of participants are welcome. Familiarity with guitar chords and knowledge of guitar tablature is helpful, but not required. Participants are encouraged to bring recording devices to class and also encouraged to participate in the Bluegrass Jam that Ed will lead every afternoon, as a way to reinforce the techniques learned in class as well as learn additional songs/tunes. (You will find this class on the Mando & Banjo Week Schedule)

This course will delve into more advanced forms of bluegrass guitar rhythm playing. In addition to learning our way around the standard “boom-chuck” bass note and strum patterns that form the foundation of bluegrass rhythm guitar, we will explore more advanced moving bass lines, substitute chords and inversions, and even some basic three-note swing rhythm patterns to put some extra “sock” into your playing. Along the way, we’ll highlight the concepts of harmonic theory and how to select chords and chord patterns to strengthen the guitar’s support of the vocalist and instrumentalist. Familiarity with flatpicking and guitar chords, along with knowledge of guitar tablature is highly recommended. While tablature will be provided for most techniques and songs covered in class, participants are strongly encouraged to bring recording devices to class as a memory aid, as we will be covering some fairly challenging material. (You will find this class on the Mando & Banjo Week Schedule)

Swing guitar is fun and accessible. This hands-on class is intended for either a beginning guitarist or someone new to playing guitar in a swing style. We will use tunes common to the repertoire to learn the basics of chord voicings, pick technique, melody playing and accompaniment practices. Plan to be jamming over your favorite tunes by the week’s end.

This hands-on class will deepen your understanding of swing guitar. We will examine the guitar styles of Freddie Green, Eddie Lang, Django Reinhardt and Oscar Aleman and will utilize elements from each player. Plan to expand your chord knowledge, learn how develop thoughtful accompaniment practices, play energetic chord solos and add some “hot” guitar licks into your vocabulary.

This class will cover the basic skills essential to providing good Irish session guitar accompaniment. Conducted in standard tuning, a number of the concepts could also be applied to other tunings. The student will learn basic chord shapes, modal chords, chord inversions, and a variety of progressions for effective accompaniment in the principal keys used in Irish music. We will focus on jigs and reels, with detours for other dance tune forms and perhaps a song or two, but it’s worth mentioning that many of these skills can also be applied to other musical genres and styles. Classes will be taught mainly by ear. Students are encouraged to bring an audio recorder, pen and notebook.


Other Events

In the last hour before supper, Ed will lead a non-threatening bluegrass jam for all levels and instruments. Come have fun channeling your inner Bill Monroe! (No class limit)

During the last hour before supper, there will be a special class time for students of any skill level to form bands, along with students from Fiddle Week. With the guidance of instructors, band members arrange and rehearse with the option of performing at the Student Showcase on Friday evening. (Sign up for band sessions at first band meeting time, no advanced registration required.)

Throughout the week we will feature several fine luthiers displaying instruments, including bowmaker Roger Treat, mandolin builder Steve Sorensen, violin maker Joe Thrift and Northfield Mandolins.

Master luthier Lynn Dudenbostel will be offering his repair services throughout the week. Contact him through his website for his rates.