Monday, November 05, 2012 @1:02:10 PM
First a quick summary of where I’m at to give you some context of the review. I have been playing almost 4 years. Been taking lessons weekly since the start. Never played an instrument of any kind before. Started when I was 49. My favorite “style” (not really a style) is typically what’s played at New England Contra dances (which includes many styles). I consider myself on the lower end of intermediate.
When I planned out my schedule I gave no thought to the Level assigned.
The ratings are based on MY experience, not an evaluation of what the quality of the session was. If a session was way over my head I may give it low rating even though it was executed perfectly.
I had started reviewing my “Fiddle Hell” tunes off and on about a month ago. But with the Storm impact on me and my family I didn’t get a lot of fiddling in the past week.
Dave Kaynor - Guided Jam (Beg-AdvBeg) 5 Stars
Always fun to play with Dave at any level or context (i.e. Guided, Open, Contra Dance etc.)
This was a good warm up.
Dave Kaynor - New England Workshop (Int) 5 Stars
Becky Tracey - French Canadian Workshop (Int) 3 Stars
I flunked, the teacher is awesome. More on this later.
Stacey Phillips - Mississippi Style WorkShop (Int) 4 Stars
I really like Stacey’s approach. He first played a recording of one of his favorites.
Then instead of teaching the whole tune he focused only on the stylistic parts.
He said I’m gonna teach you to teach yourself.
Then at the end of the class he played the recording again and you heard it (I did anyway) very differently.
So many classes teach the “Notes” and only have a little time left for style.
Only reason it’s 4 Stars is, it was not my cup of tea and I struggled.
Terri Lukacko - Old Time Workshop – (Beg-AdvBeg) Not Rated
After not doing so well at the last two sessions I thought I should pay attention to the Level and step it down.
This session felt too beginner so I did not stay.
Hanneke Cassel – Scottish Workshop (Int) 4 Stars
I already knew Scottish is not my thing even though I love listening to Alasdair Fraser (her teacher).
But I really wanted to sample all the teachers.
She was awesome, pretty standard way of teaching a tune, I didn’t do great.
After a tough day I thought I was better off getting back to reviewing 52 Fiddle Hell tunes than stay any longer with the hope that Saturday would go better. So I went home early and practiced like 30 tunes. From 8PM to 1AM. I was a little worried I over did it (easy to injure yourself playing that long), but I sure was enjoying it. I’m not sure if this is the reason Day 2 went so well for me.
Day 2 (My best Fiddle Day to date)
Alan Kaufman - Oldtime Fiddling Secrets Workshop (Int) 5 Stars
I knew Alan a bit from Lowel Contest (he did backup Guitar for me) and the Waltham Old Time Jam (which I’ve only gone to a few times and enjoyed a lot)
This was just unbelievable. He first taught us a bowing pattern (single note on an open string).
Then he slowly taught us a tune while applying that pattern right in each phrase as we went.
I got most of it, probably not all the subtle syncopation though.
Alan Kaufman – Finding your groove Workshop (Int/Adv) 4 Stars
It actually felt like the prior session was more finding your groove.
I think I was so glowing with joy from the prior session I can’t even remember what he did in this session.
Dave Reiner – Fundamental Bowing Patterns (Int) 5 Stars
I had taken this 2 years ago and skipped last year thinking it was going to be similar and the infamous bowing book would be out any day now.
I thought I sure could use a refresh even if it was the same.
It felt quite fresh and was well done.
Dave is Master at knowing what his students are thinking and where they are likely stumbling and focuses a lot on those stumbling blocks.
George Keith – Irish Workshop (Beg) 4 Stars
I had taken a group lesson with George in Cambridge a while back (but I could not complete it due to schedule conflicts). That group class was very good. I love Irish style and knew any Irish workshop would help a wee bit.
He taught a tune and spent a fair amount of time on the Roll.
His “rules” for a roll contradict my teachers, no biggy but interesting.
Room was way too small and I had to stand.
Mark Simos – Oldtime Bowing (Int) 4 Stars
Please forgive me if I explain this wrong.
But basically he’s not into “Pattern Bowing”. I’m not sure if he’d call it “Any Which Way”
I can’t explain what he said and do it justice. I’m glad I went and I’m still processing it.
Matt Glaser – Improvising Workshop (Int/Adv) 5 Stars
My teacher knows I’m not into Improvising yet but said I have to see this guy.
Oh my goodness, it was amazing.
One thing he said conflicts with what I’ve been trained to believe though (no biggy, but interesting).
I’m sure you’ve all heard something like this before for learning a tune by ear.
Play the tune every where you can, Car, Jogging, Eating, Sleeping, etc.
Then sing the tune (he says sing it with Solfege – Doh, Ray, Mee)
Then pick a Key and Sing the Note names (Bzzzzt wait a sec)
I’ve been taught you practice scales, arpeggios and patterns in various keys so that’s all muscle memory. Then you learn tunes in intervals.
Then pick a key at the time you want to play it. Not pick a key to burn in that Key into your head. I don’t even think about notes when I play a tune.
Alan Kaufman – Oldtime Tune Writing Workshop (Beg/AdvBeg) 5 Stars
This is not a huge goal of mine. But at camp once a question was asked something like what single thing has made you a better player.
And one teacher’s answer was I’m a better player since I started to write tunes. So I thought, for that reason alone it would be good to dabble in a bit.
This was a NO PAPER process. You record it when your done (or optionally while you develop it).
Alan started with a phrase we all looped it for a while. Then he went around the room (me first, ugh) to add something. I’ve attended a couple beginner bluegrass sessions and my instinct was to immediately jump in without skipping a beat and play what comes to mind. I usually do very poorly at it. I never thought to stop and think about what I want to add and noodle around.
Well it’s a good thing I didn’t think about it, because whatever popped into my head, worked. Alan, knowing my level and experience looked a little taken back because I think he really liked it. When he asked me to play it again, I couldn’t but his photographic memory retained it. Every other student stopped and thought about it and noodled a bit. It was very common people could not remember what they came up with.
The group composed tune was pretty cool but I’m not sure the B part quite fits with the A part.
Contra Dance 5 Stars
Played with the Band. I was concerned last year was just luck of the moment because it was so awesome last year. This year was even better !! I think we had 21 FIddlers.
Dance is too short.
Dave and his family's expertise of audio setup is nothing less than awesome. I think this is big reason why I do so well at this.
Went home, I was exhausted from an intense day, dance and practice the late night before.
My wife on Tenor Banjo Joined me on Day 3. I really really wanted her to attend Dave Reiner’s learning Senaca Square Dance workshop. It would have been perfect for her. And I heard the end of it. But we just could not get there on time.
Terri Lukacko – Oldtime Workshop – (Beg/Adv beg) Wifes rating 2 Stars
Just didn’t go well.
Becky Tracey – Building up Speed (Beg/Adv) 5 Stars
Lots of basic things.
Posture (lots of folks are not supporting their instrument properly which forces the left hand to support it)
Relax (I definitely still have issues with this)
One huge comment she made really stuck. If you’re jumping between styles you’ll never get good at any one of them. The bowing is different between them and you can’t obtain the muscle memory if you’re jumping between styles. This is huge, it might be why I struggled so much in her first workshop.
Matt Glaser – Improvising Workshop (Int/Adv) 5 Stars (Wife and I both attended)
Mostly the same as the day before and I wanted my wife to hear this guy in person.
Unfortunately he used Red Haired boy instead of Mary Had a Little Lamb to break down which my wife didn’t know at all. But she still got the gist of it.
Matt also commented that instruments other than the Violin were at a disadvantage, which helped boost her confidence.
Paul Harty and Dick Howick – Guided Blue Grass – No Rating
We really wanted to eat but stayed long enough to get a taste.
Last Beginner Blue Grass Jam I attended at Joe Val I was amazed I knew every tune (melody in my head)
They played 2 tunes that I think people didn't know, so we left to eat.
When we came back they were doing You are my Sunshine, ugh.
Dave Kaynor – Guided Beginner Jam (Beg) 5 Stars
I decided to stick with my wife to try to make her first real day out go smooth.
A dose of Dave Kaynor never fails.
Julie Metcalf – Guided Beginner Jam (Beg) 5 Stars
Julie was so attentive towards my wife struggling (it was a very small group).
Julie Metcalf – Beginner Jam (Beg) 5 Stars (wifes rating)
Julie makes fiddling look more effortless than anyone I know. Her arm, wrist and fingers move so little yet this glorious sound still emits from her fiddle.
Andy Reiner, Tim Rowell – Old time Jam Up to Speed (Int/Adv) 4 Stars
It can’t be 5 Stars without a stand up bass.
Andy is very keen to what’s going on around him so as to make it enjoyable for everyone (the apple doesn’t fall far).
Thanks Reiner Family once again.
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