Fiddle Week Classes – July 29-August 4, 2018


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

In this class for intermediate players, we will explore the eclectic and groovy world of fiddling using some of my favorite, really spectacular tunes which come from all over the world, including blues, bluegrass, Brazilian choro, and Scandinavian polska. The wide-ranging topics will include: Rhythm and Chop – We will analyze the technique, get it under control, look at some different grooves to try, and talk about when to and when NOT to do it; Fiddle Backup – The ins and outs of playing behind a singer or other soloist; The Layers of Interest in any music– rhythmic content, melodic/harmonic content, the players’ attitude, and their phrasing, and tone. Leveraging Practice Strategies – Some ideas about what to practice, and how. We all have limited time and energy to improve: How can we make the most of what we have?

The blues, as a musical idiom and common language, pervades EVERY style of American music and is an essential communication tool for every musician who lives here. Fact: violinists and fiddlers have been playing the blues longer than performers on any other instrument. Like the fugue, waltz, and sarabande, it’s a musical form. It’s also a harmonic and melodic system with a very specific set of moves and skills. By using the right vibrato, bowing techniques, intonation and other nuances, attendees can get a true blues feeling into their playing. We will analyze and play the Blues, focusing on the form, the scales, and the three crucial blue notes and how to use them. This class is geared to intermediate and advanced fiddlers, and is also open to cellists.

This class for intermediate level fiddlers will be taught mostly by ear, the way all the original bluegrass masters learned to play. We will cover different ways to bow, doublestops, improvising, and back-up techniques. We will learn traditional bluegrass tunes, and explore writing new tunes.

In this class for advanced fiddlers, we’ll learn mostly by ear, the way all the original bluegrass masters learned to play. Moving at a bit quicker pace, we’ll cover doublestops, improvising, and back-up techniques, as well as different ways to bow. We’ll learn using traditional bluegrass tunes, and explore writing new tunes.

In this class is for intermediate fiddlers, students will learn some of Kilby’s favorite regional fiddle tunes from southwest VA and northwest NC. Emphasis will be placed on the tunings, bowing, and noting techniques associated with the style. If possible, we will try to learn at least 2 tunes a day. Students are encouraged to bring a recording device to class. We will discuss the different influential fiddle players from the region’s hotbeds of music, including Whitetop, Galax, West Jefferson, and Mt. Airy. Kilby will come 20 minutes early each day to help students get in tune or answer questions regarding material from previous days. CDs or online downloads will be provided of source recordings.

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

In this class, we will cover a wide array of fiddlistic skills helpful for navigating the inter-dimensional brainwaves of your own imagination. Topics will include improvisation, chord theory, rhythm/groove and repertoire building. The goal will be to discover more tools for creating connection between yourself and others, and to expand your musical vocabulary for communicating with other musicians. This class will primarily be taught by ear. Come prepared with big ears, a recording device and an open mind!

This advanced class will cover many of the same ideas from the intermediate class, but will move forward at a faster pace. We will learn new tunes, and discuss their connection to different musical traditions. These tunes will be vehicles for discussing harmonic and improvisational concepts. Both classes will be directed by students’ unique interests and experiences.

Students will learn some of Kenny’s favorite old-time tunes; beautiful and accessible pieces drawn from Kentucky sources. Tunes will be taught entirely by ear, breaking them down into easily-learned melodic/rhythmic phrases, and with a special emphasis on the rhythm in the bowing. The tunes will be set in both standard and alternate fiddle tunings. We’ll also spend time listening to/watching audio and video recordings of traditional fiddlers. Definitely bring your audio/video recording device and a notebook.

We’ll focus on tunes from a variety of Kentucky fiddlers. These will be taught entirely by ear, exploring personal tune interpretation in the context of the tradition. We’ll study how noting and bowing together shape the phrasing, and how left-hand and bowing ornaments/embellishments may be used to vary and enhance the playing of a tune. At this class level, we will stray somewhat away from a strictly patterned/imitative approach while still respecting the sources and their styles. Be ready to learn tunes that are in both standard and alternate fiddle tunings. We’ll also spend time listening to/watching audio and video recordings of traditional fiddlers. Definitely bring your audio/video recording device and a notebook.

This class open to all instruments is a crash course in the beautiful polyrhythmic landscape of Brazilian music. We will study the basic rhythms of choro, maxixe, samba, forró, xote, Maracatu, frevo and more! We will focus more on the rhythms and grooves that define Brazilian music versus specific tunes, however, we will learn a few simple melodies and even make up our own by transposing the many layers of a samba percussive ensemble to harmonic instruments like mandolin, fiddle, etc. This class is meant to shatter the shackles of 4/4 and get you thinking about entirely new rhythmic concepts (cyclical time signatures, Brazilian swing or “suingue” and much more). We will practice clapping, snapping, and stomping our way through these rhythms as well as strumming, plucking, and bowing. By the end you will know a few iconic Brazilian licks and riffs and maybe even a few samba steps. A tape recorder and a positive attitude are strongly recommended. Open to cellists also! Vamos lá pessoal!

BACKING UP SINGERS (Andrew Finn Magill)
Ever been asked to play fiddle lines under a song and felt completely lost? This class is meant to sharpen your accompaniment instincts as a fiddle player specifically in the folk and singer-songwriter idioms. As fiddlers we’re often asked to provide some tearjerking solos and/or harmonies to a singer and there are specific techniques good fiddlers use. In this class we’ll listen to recordings of some of the best in the biz and talk about what makes them the best. I’ll give you my basic ‘do’s’ & ‘don’ts’ and some quick cheats that I use to not get in the way of the lyrics. Fiddlers who also sing (and who aren’t afraid to do so in front of their classmates) are strongly encouraged to come! I will divide the class into groups of 2 or 3 students and each fiddler will have the opportunity to back-up different songs and singers. We will focus on the bluegrass and country language of fiddle accompaniment but will touch on Irish, swing, and some of the other genres that often call for fiddle lines. My goal is that you leave being able to back up a singer with more confidence and are able to clearly identify some of the “tricks” when you hear them. A tape recorder is recommended.

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 will delve deeply into the spirit and stylistic nuances of Scottish fiddling. A singular rhythmic drive is the lifeblood of Scottish traditional music, and we’ll engage through a visceral learning method. The melodies cover the expressive gamut (sometimes soaring, sometimes playful, mournful etc.) and comprise a rich repertoire spanning centuries; we’ll look at tunes old and new. Specifics covered will include ornamentation and bowing, phrasing and expression, melodic variations, and of course – we’ll jam! Technique and theory topics, such as tone, practice methods, simple chord theory, playing with speed and precision, will also be included. 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.

In this advanced version of Jeremy’s Scottish fiddle class, the format will be similar to the intermediate class (see above), but tune learning may move at a faster pace, and we’ll also explore in greater depth such topics as arranging, accompaniment techniques, syncopation, harmony, tune composition, variations and improvisations and more. As a reminder, all tunes will be taught by ear, and students are encouraged to bring a small audio recorder to record musical examples and repertoire..

Cajun and creole fiddling are full of Afro-Caribbean rhythms and blues elements. The class will learn by imitation (with emphasis on phrasing and syncopation) common bowing strategies and ornaments heard in South Louisiana. Repertoire will be dance hall standards and some fiddle-specific instrumentals.

All the great cajun and creole fiddle masters were adept at creating variations of melody – playing the melody in different ways but keeping it recognizable. We’ll explore strategies to accomplish that as we learn dance hall standards and some fiddle tunes. The class will learn by imitation, with tips on phrasing and ornamentation that will keep your creativity sounding like it’s from South Louisiana.

In this class we will explore the regional fiddle styles of Canada, from Ottawa Valley dance tunes, to “crooked” (free-metered) Québecois jigs and reels, to Cape Breton marches and strathspeys, to Métis duck dances. We will learn traditional and modern tunes, working on bowing, ornamentation, and “groove.” We’ll discuss Canadian regional fiddle styles and history, and spend time listening to source recordings of players from different styles and eras. All tunes will be taught by ear. Students are encouraged to bring a recording device.

This class will explore similar material to the intermediate class, but at a faster pace and a level more appropriate for advanced players. We will also cover modern tunes written in traditional styles, and write one or two ourselves. There will be no sheet music so please bring a recording device.

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 will be appropriate for fiddlers who already have some swing experience but would like to expand their improvising vocabulary or perhaps learn some more advanced tunes. A greater focus will be placed on the music of Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli and the finer points of recreating their sound. Depending on the general class level, we could learn to integrate various chord substitution techniques involving diminished and augmented chords, or practice building melodies using higher-tension notes like 9ths and 13ths. But don’t be intimidated! If you can confidently jam on a swing tune and are comfortable in first and perhaps third position, you’ll be right at home.

Rhythms that swirl like snow and nip like fire. Tonalities that conjure the deep forest and the midnight sun. Swedish fiddling is a wonderfully complex tradition with thousands of tunes, and though we can’t learn all of them this week, we’ll spend some time listening and learning about the culture. We’ll explore walking tunes, schottis, hambo, polska, and ceremonial tunes. We’ll also look at harmony parts (a distinctive part of the tradition) and how to create them. Tunes will be taught by ear, with transcriptions provided at the end of the week. No experience with Scandinavian fiddling is expected. Be ready for an adventure!

The 3/4-time polska is the heart and soul of Swedish fiddling. Its many variants can be lyrical, rugged, deeply comforting, eerie, irresistibly rhythmic and more, and will have you counting to three in more ways than you can imagine! We’ll take an overview of regional and local styles and then delve deeply into several tunes. 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.

Beginners of all stripes welcome! We will review basic fiddle and bow holds and have fun with some easy fiddling and bowing techniques while working on three styles of traditional fiddle tunes by ear: Old-time, Scottish, and Irish. We’ll discuss ornaments and the stylistic differences between the tunes. I won’t pass the sheet music out until we’ve learned the tunes first by ear, so please bring some sort of recording device so you can listen to and practice the tunes after class. Also, bring a tuner, and please make sure your fiddle and bow are in good playing condition, set up for you with shoulder rest, etc. Most of all, please bring an eager attitude and be prepared to have fun!

Those coming to this class should have the technique to play up to 4th position on the cello. We’ll explore tunes from Shetland, Quebec, Scotland, and North America. I will discuss the type of tunes from each of these places and what makes them specific to where they come from. I will also talk about finding tunes that work well on the cello since we don’t have that ‘e’ string! We’ll also learn some less-complicated tunes in this class so that we can work on some basics of learning by ear, back up techniques, rhythm, understanding harmonies, bowings, and possibly get into talking about shifting techniques related to each of the tunes that I will teach. (Just a little bit of tech talk if desired). We may start with learning a slow air for ornaments, musicality, harmony and counter melodies. Most importantly, I hope we have lots of fun exploring these tunes and back-up. Please bring a recording device for learning by ear. I will pass out the dots at the end of the week!

We’ll work on similar aspects of the tunes and back up as in the intermediate class but with advanced players we will tend to move at a faster pace covering more material. We will get into some work on improvising since that is really what we are doing when backing up a tune. Ultimately, the class will be geared to who shows up and what they want to learn. Intermediate players are welcome to hang in and get what they can from the class. And often in cello classes everyone comes together for both classes and we all learn from each other as well. There is always a bit of “playing by ear” on my part in the first classes of the week to sort out the direction we will take. And it’s all about having fun isn’t it? Remember to bring recording devices!

This class will explore the changing role of the bass in today’s music, and its use an expressive, melodic instrument, whether playing backup or taking a more featured role. We’ll use tunes from the American fiddle and jazz traditions, as well as some favorite bass lines to study pizz technique/bass lines (groove, melodic bass lines, being a supportive accompanist, following chords changes, utilizing mutes and pops, backing up singers, etc.), bow technique (general concepts for clean and smooth bowing, shuffles, pulse bowing, tone production and other tonal effects, chordal backup, etc.), left-hand technique (keeping the hand small, pivots, thinking in chord shapes, drop-thumb, shifting smoothly and precisely, working on intonation, etc.), and many overall musical/expressive concepts (free improvisation, sporadic scales, learning from other instruments, expressive intonation, the balance between the details and the overall picture of the music, internalizing rhythm, becoming better listeners and better conversational players, etc.). This list is a general suggestion of what I would like to cover, but the direction of this class will be largely directed by the participants: please come with your burning questions and topics you want to cover, and we will make the most of our time together!

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 Alemán 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 expand your range as a guitar player, and give you some new strategies and inspirations for playing. Focusing on the Irish and Breton dance tune repertoire, as well as some traditional and contemporary song accompaniments, we will focus on a range of rhythms, chord voicings, chord families, and melodic playing that will facilitate your exploration of advanced techniques as well as basic musical truths. This class will be taught in standard tuning, but will also focus on an approach that uses drones, partial chords, and moving lines. Classes will be taught mainly by ear. Students are encouraged to bring an audio recorder, pen and notebook. (Find this class in the Mando & Banjo Week Schedule)



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 is at first band meeting time; no advanced registration required.)

Throughout the week we will feature several fine luthiers displaying instruments, including bowmaker Roger Treat, violin maker Joe Thrift and mandolin builders Max & Lauri Girouard.

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