What can you learn?
• Build a solid foundation for self-teaching
• Learn to identify and create authentic musical styles
• Learn to find harmonies and countermelodies on the fly
• Learn to improvise both melodically and rhythmically
• Build jamming skills
String players are often in the dark about fiddling. This class shines a light on the mysteries of rhythm, style, harmony and improvisation. We use these skills to put real fiddle tunes from multiple styles into context.
Tunes are chosen for the depth of their potential ‘lesson,’ allowing us to mine the secrets each tune offers. Rhythms, harmonies, style, and variations ‘demystify’ each tune in turn, while each week offers new techniques and lessons for both hands, and most importantly, the ears!
What does it help to know already?
Students need an intermediate or better facility on their instrument, playing mostly in time and in tune (necessary for harmony), with reasonable recovery at moderate tempos. This is not a novice class. However, sight-reading is NOT required. All lessons are taught by ear, with chord notation explained and used every week.
What is the class focus and how is the class structured?
The class for eight students at my Amherst MA studio is open to all melodic string players – fiddlers, violinists, violists, cellists, mandolin, ukelele, guitarists, banjo players and more. We meet Tuesdays at my Amherst studio from 7-8:30 pm from Sept. 27 to Dec. 6, with no class Thanksgiving week. Each time, we’ll dig deep into one tune for 90 minutes, defining and grounding with technique the style and harmony ‘magic’ the fiddle ‘lore,’ we find in each tune. We end with at least a half-hour jam where students put the lesson into practice. The final class is a jam party at my studio, with family and friends invited!
Students will record every class (so bring a charged device and storage) and use the play-alongs as practice aids. I encourage all students to obtain a program that slows down mp3s. I use “The Amazing Slow-Downer” from ronimusic.com. Sheet music is also available in each week’s handout packet.
We are using my “Fiddling Demystified for Strings” (available for download) as a style and theory reference but all the tunes and the lessons are new! Each week I’ll have new handouts, including sheet music, chord charts, new chord fingerings and harmony lessons. This, added to the book and instructional CDs, should give learners a useful method for developing and assimilating new music into their repertoire.
How do I register and what does it cost?
Please contact me directly to discuss the course, to register, and to share any questions you might have. Phone is 413-658-4276; Email [email protected]. Cost for ten weeks is $250, payable when registering. I regret I only have room for 8 students in my studio, so please call sooner rather than later if you are interested!
Who’s the teacher?
I’m a Franco-American fiddler, singer, composer, and educator, a state Artist’s Fellow with original songs on Smithsonian anthologies, and many master-teacher appointments through the National Endowment for the Arts. A member of Celtic sextet Mist Covered Mountains, I perform and record with guitarist, singer and songwriter Max Cohen. Every summer I direct Great Groove Band children’s performances at Old Songs and Philadelphia Folk Festivals. I teach fiddle and performance at Smith and Amherst Colleges and at my studio in western Massachusetts, where I work in-person and with Skype students from all over the world. In 2003, Darol Anger encouraged me to write (and then provided a foreword for) my Fiddling Demystified for Strings, which he called a “cornucopia of fiddling.” And the Gov also likes me . . .
“outstanding artistic achievement!” Governor Deval Patrick, 2009 Commonwealth Awards