Fiddle Week CLASSES - July 31-August 6, 2016


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

We will learn a few standard tunes,and we will listen to recordings of great players playing those tunes. We will then develop variations and improvisations based on the melody,the rhythm and the harmony of each tune. We’ll play along with a metronome to work on the “swing” in swing fiddle and learn to sing the melody of each song while playing the chords on the fiddle.

This class will follow the same approach as the intermediate class above, but geared toward more 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 is a class for intermediate fiddlers who wish to expand their repertoire and get that real old-time sound. We’ll also delve into ways to play with ease, spice up tunes, and jump into jams. The focus in class will be on learning by ear, old-time bowing patterns and ornamentation at a relaxed pace. Recording devices are recommended. We will learn a number of fine southern tunes that you’ll enjoy playing for years to come. Bring your adventurous fiddling spirit!

This class is for advanced fiddlers who wish to explore a variety of old-time fiddle styles from the Virginias, Kentucky, North Carolina and beyond. We will delve into left-hand ornamentation, blue notes, alternate tunings and the intricacies of bowing (rocks, pulses and dwells) and other nuances typical of traditional southern fiddling. Secrets to great tone and playing with ease will also be shared. Recording devices are recommended. Fiddlers should be comfortable playing by ear, have good facility on their instrument, and appreciate beautiful, old tunes.

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. Here we will talk about creating a mood/emotion with your solo, tension & release, and interaction with fellow musicians. However, there will still be plenty of focus on key elements including rhythm/groove, melody/voice leading and harmony. Bring a notebook and a recording device.

Are you ready to push your old-time fiddle sound up a notch? In this class for intermediates, we’ll spend some quality time with a handful of beautiful old tunes, while we explore some of the easy left- and right-hand techniques that really make it sound old-time including ornaments, open-string drones and double-stops. We’ll also work on becoming the bosses of our bows with phrasing, simple patterns, doodads, dips, and pulses. We’ll make good use of different keys and take advantage of more relaxed tempos that will allow us to enjoy the internal rhythm and the magical order of notes. Arcane and not so arcane secrets revealed!

In this advanced class, we will apply all those tasty goodies that make it sound like old-time fiddling, and we will concentrate on tunes in two specific tunings. In DDAD, we’ll look at Bill Stepp’s “Piney Ridge,” Marcus Martin’s “Boatsman,” and “Yell in the Shoats” from Cecil Seeley. We’ll also look at AEAC# (also known as Calico) with such tunes as Mose Coffman’s “Lost Indian,” “The Scolding Wife,”from Marion Reese, and Marcus Martin’s “Wounded Hoosier.” The tunings really add color to the tunes. AND they make their own gravy!

Brazilian choro, an entirely instrumental genre originating in Rio de Janeiro in the 1870s has become a national musical language for Brazilian instrumentalists across genres. This class is catered toward fiddlers and as such we will spend a good portion learning the various grooves and rhythms which make up choro, samba, forró and other Brazilian styles. We will learn a choro and learn how to stylize it as a Brazilian musician might: which ornaments to use and where, how to interpret the tune, and how to improvise within the tune. We will divide the class into groups and get the class grooving on a simple samba or choro form. The ability to read music is a plus but not a requirement and as always, a recording device is highly recommended.

This class will help you get a start or rev up your playing of the spirited dance music of Québéc. We’ll explore a variety of different tune types, including reels, waltzes, and quadrilles, work on bowing, swing, syncopation and ornamentation, and get you going with foot percussion. Core playing technique, such as playing nimbly with good articulation, timing, and ‘oomph,’ will be included as appropriate. The class will proceed at a pace appropriate for intermediate players. All tunes will be taught by ear with some sheet music for take-home; bring a small audio recorder if you can.

Come take a musical and cultural tour through Québéc, with visits to Franco-American New England and French-speaking Maritime communities. We’ll highlight the music of master musicians, from vintage 78 rpm-era players to iconic regional players such as Louis “Pitou” Boudreault, Jules Verret, Louis Beaudoin and Avila LeBlanc, plus a look at some recent compositions from accordionists and young upstarts. Along the way, we will explore a variety of different tune genres (reels, quadrilles, marches, gigues, waltzes, etc.), tunings, and (watch out!) degrees of “crookedness”. Emphasis will be on putting swing and syncopation into your bowing language, along with ornamentation, rhythmic variation, and foot percussion. The class will proceed at a pace appropriate for advanced players. All tunes will be taught by ear with some sheet music for take-home; bring a small audio recorder if you can.

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.

(NOTE: The Intermediate and Advanced Scottish Fiddle courses will be similar in content. However, the Intermediate class will move at a slower pace and will focus on level-appropriate repertoire and stylistic techniques.)
This course explores the stylistic nuances of Scottish fiddling. We’ll work on ornamentation and bowing, phrasing and expression, playing ‘in the groove’, improvising melodic variations, and using accents to create rhythmic excitement. We’ll also discuss Scotland’s regional fiddle styles and listen to recordings of players from each style. 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)

(NOTE: The Advanced and Intermediate Scottish Fiddle courses will be similar in content. However, the Advanced class will move at a faster pace, learn more difficult tunes, and address more complex stylistic techniques.)
This course explores the stylistic nuances of Scottish fiddling. We’ll work on ornamentation and bowing, phrasing and expression, playing ‘in the groove’, improvising melodic variations, and using accents to create rhythmic excitement. We’ll also look at the art of playing second fiddle in Scottish music and work on improvising harmonies and chordal backup parts. We’ll discuss Scotland’s regional fiddle styles and listen to recordings of players from each style. 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)

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 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 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!

How do you make better music in the moment, jam confidently with folks you’ve never met, and/or say something different every time you take a solo? This class for ALL instruments will help deepen one’s connection to spontaneity and flow through organized sound. Joe teaches musical improvisation more from a theater model rather than the requisite model of jazz. Therefore, this is not an ability-based class. If you’re an advanced player seeking a ‘theory & technique’-oriented foray into improvisation from a jazz architecture, this class may not be for you. Joe connects improvisation to what you already do and moves you forward from there. We’ll focus on ways to think differently about sound, embrace fearlessness, and address the connection between spoken-word language and the language of music. Showing up empty-handed, mimicry, mistakes & metaphor, sending/receiving and the value of losing control are just some what we’ll apply to our music making in class. Lots of exercises and opportunity to play with others in new ways. The class will stretch you and may well change some of your perceptions of what music is. It’s a fun and enlightening romp!

Rodney will be teaching dance fiddling techniques with which to individualize tunes. In class, he will cover a variety of tunes used to play for contradances and teach some easy to mid-level tunes applying more basic dance fiddle techniques.

This class will teach advanced dance fiddling techniques, including the essence of the ‘dancing’ bow, and various finger- and bow-ornamentations/techniques with which to individualize tunes. In class, he will cover a variety of tunes used to play for contradances, teach tunes, and explore improvisation and the different processes of writing new fiddle tunes.

This class is for intermediate players who want an introduction to Mexican fiddle music. Huapango Huasteco is a style from the Huasteca region of Mexico and is distinguished by its virtuosic fiddle playing, canorous falsetto singing, and poetic improvisation. We’ll learn together some simple songs from the Huasteco style by ear, which is the traditional way of learning this music, but sheet music for some pieces will also be provided.

The polska is the delectable dance form at the center of Swedish fiddling. It’s lyrical, rugged, luscious, transporting. With its many variations on 3/4 rhythm, polska bends the mind and steals the heart. In this class, we’ll take an overview of regional and local styles and then delve deeply into the southern slängpolska and one of the rich variants from Dalarna. Depending on class interest, we’ll work with harmonies as well as melodies. You needn’t have any experience with Scandinavian fiddling, but should be comfortable with trying new bowing patterns and scales, and ready to think outside the box.

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! This class uses time-tested methods that are sure to get you started making fun fiddling memories. You will learn how to hold your fiddle, how to tune it, and some basic bowing and fingering skills as you learn how to back up and to 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 the cellist proficient in bowing and comfortable shifting, the class will explore techniques and concepts that will allow you to jam with other musicians and accompany yourself. Come ready to loosen up that bow arm and learn to create unique rhythms that can drive fiddle tunes or provide movement for a vocalist. Most of the instruction will be aural and, yes, there will some singing.

For the cellist who has gained significant skills in bowing and pizzicato, this class turns over a new leaf in the approach to the cello. The class will open up the pallette of pizzicato with three-finger techniques and chords, use the bow to create “chop” rhythms, and explore melodic improvisation with an ear towards songwriting and accompaniment. Instruction will be aural as well as notated.

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 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 Will Kimble, violin maker Lawrence K. Brown and Northfield Mandolins. Lynn Dudenbostel will once again be on hand to offer repair services.

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