Since the invention of the violin, the music of its unschooled alter-ego, the fiddle, has excited people to dance, evoked the devil and the spiritual, echoed the human voice and heart. It is an instrument that has made its way into the core of many different traditions and it speaks a language understood worldwide. Fiddle Week at the Swannanoa Gathering celebrates that universality with classes in traditional and contemporary styles ranging from Irish to Brazilian to blues, from old-time to Scottish to swing.
This summer we are going back to basics, focusing on the most popular styles from past summers. In addition, we have more general classes to help students develop well-rounded musicianship, such as Ear Aerobics, Theory for Fiddlers, Backing Up Singers and Pursuing Possibility. The week also includes classes in guitar, focusing on accompaniment in various styles, and there are related offerings for the fiddle’s bigger siblings, the cello and bass. The ‘open’ and ‘all instrument’ classes allow a full class load for all instrumentalists.
Each instructor teaches different levels in their area of expertise, and students are asked to place themselves in the appropriate level. Most classes are taught at the intermediate or advanced level, but we continue to offer Fiddle FUNdamentals for students who want to gain confidence in learning and playing by ear, and for those who are new to the instrument. Intermediate classes are appropriate for advanced players who would like to explore a style that is new to them, or for experienced players who need to get more fluent playing by ear. The advanced classes are designed to build on previous experience in the style.
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, or participate in the Daily Bluegrass Jam, or visit our Luthier’s Exhibit featuring several luthiers including Northfield Mandolins, bowmaker Roger Treat, and violin maker Joe Thrift who will be demonstrating their craft and will also have finished works on hand to sample. Master luthier Lynn Dudenbostel will once again be on hand to offer repair services.
Mando & Banjo Week runs concurrently with Fiddle Week, and students are free to take classes in either program.