Sunday, July 1, 2012

mountain fiddles for all

I am so excited about Fiddle Camp, coming up in August. The response to the two-day event here at the farm has been overwhelming at times. and a mix of brand new faces and familiar ones will arrive.

What is Fiddle Camp? It's a two-day workshop here at the farm. Folks are welcome to literally camp in the yard, or get a local room at an Inn. They'll arrive with a fiddle waiting for them, tuned and ready to play. Everyone will have a copy of Wayne Erbsens amazing beginner's book and we'll go sit outside under the big maple for talks, demos, and teaching the basics of playing that box of wood, metal, and horse hair. The goal of the workshop is to take people with absolutely no musical background or experience and have them leave the farm as fiddlers. If this sounds like a tall order, well, then you have been hoodwinked into thinking the violin is a hard instrument to play. It isn't.

The fiddle is just four strings held by tension over a wooden box with some holes in it. There are just four basic finger positions to learn to get started, and those same finger positions are the same on every string. In about an hour people will know the entire basic map of the fiddle. By noon the first day, we will be starting our first songs. They will come to know the fiddle as I teach it, like a new dog. It take a little while to get used to, there is some adjustment, but in a few months you won't be able to imagine your life without it. You'll strap it over your back with baling twine to take it out to campfires and friend's bbqs. And when you start a raucous round of Old Joe Clark everyone will be shocked you had it in you, but you won't be. It's a natural outcome of practice and love. No different then letting your water-loving dog off leash and a dock and seeing it dive in.

Musical instruments are just like gardens. They really are. Just like anyone who can follow basic instructions, access sunlight, soil, and seeds can grow a patch of lettuce greens—anyone with a tuned fiddle and some determined effort can grow a song. It just takes learning new moves, understanding a new animal. And like gardens you can be as simple or complicated as you want to be.

Cold Antler Farm isn't Juliard. If you are looking for a professional certification or someone to perfectly place your hands over your bow: that's not happening. This isn't for orchestra, this is for the outback. My fiddle camp is about getting comfortable and making homebrewed music because you just love the sound, mystery, and romance of the fiddle and want some of it for your own.

People aren't coming here expecting to leave playing The Devil Went Down to Georgia. they will leave playing music though. Like a new gardener can hold a seedling in her palm, new fiddlers can saw out simple Old Time mountain tunes with ease after they learn now to hold the dang thing right and use a bow. And we will start that basic of a level. We'll learn how to hold things comfortably, the parts and names of the pieces, how to rosin a bow, how to make music from that rosined bow, and how to care and feed for the new instrument.

It'll be a fun two days. I found a couple who want to come and camp, and they run a screen printing business. They are trading the camp t-shirts for lessons. Another couple of friends are driving over from Ohio, another good friend is coming up from Philly. I have a few last spots left if you want to join in. And if you have a fiddle and want to come for just the saturday intro course from 10-2pm, you can do that too for a lower fee.

I'll make sure to take videos! Now, the rest of you, grab your instruments and play today! The world can use some more music, more goodness. And if someone gives you the hairy eyeball for not sounding like a pro, just play louder, they love that.


Blogger Kate said...

I can't WAIT. I'll let our friends know that you have a couple of spots left. It would be so fun to share this with a buddy! I'll be bringing my tent BTW and listening to the bugs bounce off my tarp and the night creatures go about their business while I play new songs in my head.

July 1, 2012 at 10:01 AM  
Blogger Beth said...

I got my National Geo. magazine in the mail today. There's an article in this issue about vanishing languages. (Track down the print copy if you can, the photos are gorgeous).
The Tuvans in Russia play a sort of fiddle that they describe as an "air horse" in their native language - and I immediately thought of you :)
Happy fiddling!
Beth in NC

July 1, 2012 at 6:57 PM  
Blogger Stacey said...

I wasn't sure I could swing it, but think I can. Will email you!

July 1, 2012 at 10:57 PM  

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