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Apr 16, 2017 - 5:02:10 AM
775 posts
Joined Mar 19, 2009

I need some tips on Contest Fiddling. Recently, I entered the Senior Fiddler's Contest @ a local event. Best I can figure, out of 7 senior fiddler's, I came in either dead last or next to dead last, and 2 of the 3 judges were friends of mine? NEED HELP PLEASE!


Apr 16, 2017 - 6:46:21 PM

9679 posts
Joined Sep 23, 2009

Wow, that's hard to believe...you must really have some great fiddlers in your area...I've seen you playing the daylights outta your fiddle on YouTube...maybe you just played the wrong stuff at the contest????  I hear they are very picky about what you play, but I have no idea since I haven't been within 200 hundred miles of any fiddling contests as far as I know.

Apr 16, 2017 - 7:10:03 PM

775 posts
Joined Mar 19, 2009

Groundhog Peggy . . . yes, pretty good bunch of fiddlers . . . all Bgrass fiddler's and Contest fiddler's. Only an hour from Nashville so you can imagine. Appreciate the kind words. All I know is Oldtime Fiddle & it is different from what I heard @ the Contest. They seem to do a lot of what I would call Texas Swing . . . dont really know why they call it an Oldtime Fiddle Contest?
Apr 17, 2017 - 6:49:26 AM

1734 posts
Joined Oct 1, 2008

Well ..... contest fiddling is about technical prowess more than style. Get a Mel Bay book by Craig Duncan and peruse his arrangements. Very "notey" smooth and slick ... the melody never disappears but it surely gains complexity. Don't take the judges voting to heart ....... R/

Apr 17, 2017 - 6:54:36 AM
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AZJohnB

USA

170 posts
Joined Jun 27, 2007

You need to play in the judge's preferred style.  

Apr 17, 2017 - 7:26:20 AM
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1266 posts
Joined Oct 22, 2007

Mark O'Connor says to play what the judges like.

Low level contests are fun if they keep it friendly. (if there's jamming)   High level contests are a different thing. The whole competitiveness runs counter to me. I know it's tradition.  There's entering. Then there's chasing. I will probably enter more contests, but if i needed a trophy i'd order one from Amazon. smiley

Apr 17, 2017 - 7:44:37 AM

775 posts
Joined Mar 19, 2009

Thanks Richard. I will check the book out.
Apr 17, 2017 - 7:50:05 AM

775 posts
Joined Mar 19, 2009

John . . . I'm not sure exactly what the judges style is? I think maybe Bluegrass or Texas Style? I know the winner plays a lot of Texas Swing. I guess I need to broaden my scope, or maybe wait for a year their's only 5 contestants . . . then I could @ least come in 5th. 🤓
Apr 17, 2017 - 7:57:10 AM
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775 posts
Joined Mar 19, 2009

Farmer Jones . . . i Guess this would be a low-level contest, although it does draw many of the Nashville pickers, being as it's such close proximity. I do enjoy the jamming . . . lots of That and I get to see lots of old friends. Hey, that's a thought . . . order a trophy from Amazon . . . The Dead Last Fiddler. Maybe even start a club . . . The Dead Last Fiddler's Society.
Apr 17, 2017 - 9:54:12 AM

3154 posts
Joined Sep 26, 2008

Contests are rarely "old time" these days. I think Cliftop is a genuine old time contest.
You are correct in saying 'Texas swing' even though that isn't exactly correct and I would expect the TS police to chime in (don't - we know it's not), in that modern 'contest style' owes much to the creativity of the early 'Texas style' fiddlers. Lots of groups of 3 notes repeated over the 4 beats - anything but old time (maybe closer to Ed Haley who stretched the boundaries of OT a bit). If you really want to be competitive, you're gonna have to buckle down and change styles ☺️

Edited to fix an auto correct!

Edited by - ChickenMan on 04/17/2017 09:55:31

Apr 17, 2017 - 11:27:15 AM

775 posts
Joined Mar 19, 2009

Chicken Man . . . Thanks . . . i Can see I've got a lot of practicing to do. Any ideas on where I can find samples of Contest Fiddling?
Apr 17, 2017 - 1:57:25 PM
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1266 posts
Joined Oct 22, 2007

quote:
Originally posted by jefferylong

 Any ideas on where I can find samples of Contest Fiddling?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0bcpFD7Y5HE

Remember this is a "judges round." Proving she is good enough to be a judge. Oh yeah!

Apr 17, 2017 - 2:02:04 PM
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1266 posts
Joined Oct 22, 2007

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=85I46Mkodjc

Speaks for itself.

All this being said, better to play something you know solid than stretch your ability too thin.

Apr 17, 2017 - 3:50:46 PM

775 posts
Joined Mar 19, 2009

Thanks Farmer Jones . . . thats a big help.
Apr 18, 2017 - 6:01:19 AM

456 posts
Joined Jun 12, 2010

The Grand Masters Fiddle Contest is held in Nashville every year in September. If I lived in Jackson, I would be there every year.

Apr 18, 2017 - 6:44:44 AM

775 posts
Joined Mar 19, 2009

George . . . their are a number of fiddler's Contest in the area, but no Oldtime. Even the Dave Macon Festival is mostly Bgrass. I look forward to Clifftop each year.
Apr 18, 2017 - 7:43:45 AM
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Old Scratch

Canada

130 posts
Joined Jun 22, 2016

This is kind of an illustration of what some of us don't like about contests: fiddlers altering or even turning their backs on their own (individual and/or regional) styles in order to conform to contest convention.

Anyway ... carry on!

Apr 18, 2017 - 8:17:47 AM
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gapbob

USA

414 posts
Joined Apr 20, 2008

I would ignore that contest stuff, why put effort into playing stuff they expect to hear, rather than what you want to play?  Just look on the contest as an opportunity to entertain some folks with what YOU enjoy to play.  

(Go find some dances to play for!)

Winning isn't much of anything and doesn't mean anything when it comes to being good.

Entered a contest in Collinsville, IL, nearly 20 years ago—when I went up to get my fifth place check, the gal handing it to me said, "I'm sorry." (The guy who runs that contest, George Portz, is a so-so fiddler who is rumored to rearrange the results after the judges' scores are tallied.)

Edited by - gapbob on 04/18/2017 08:29:03

Apr 18, 2017 - 8:52:27 AM

775 posts
Joined Mar 19, 2009

Old Scratch . . . AMEN
Apr 18, 2017 - 8:53:58 AM
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775 posts
Joined Mar 19, 2009

Bob . . . i Do play for a local Barndance I thoroughly enjoy.
Apr 18, 2017 - 7:37:03 PM
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Old Scratch

Canada

130 posts
Joined Jun 22, 2016

I think Bob's got the right idea, though: "Just look on the contest as an opportunity to entertain some folks with what YOU enjoy to play." I played in a number of contests in the past, but it was always because it was a community expectation that I would do so, as my way of contributing (for once), and I looked at it in the way Bob suggests. And when I've watched contests, what I've always enjoyed most is when some old-timer from the backwoods appears, and plays in a style that you know isn't going to get him anywhere with the judges, but is unique and compelling.

Apr 18, 2017 - 8:04:43 PM
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775 posts
Joined Mar 19, 2009

Old Scratch,
That would be me . . . the oldtimer from the backwoods. 🤓
Apr 18, 2017 - 8:24:56 PM
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Old Scratch

Canada

130 posts
Joined Jun 22, 2016

That's you?! I thought I recognized you! Okay, then - just keep playing what you're playing, Granddad! Seriously - I would try to go with the attitude that I'm just going to get up and entertain the folks for a few minutes, and let the Contest-Fiddlin' hot-shots get themselves all wound-up about who's better than who .....

Apr 18, 2017 - 8:37:32 PM
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Old Scratch

Canada

130 posts
Joined Jun 22, 2016

I just listened to a few of the recordings you have up on your home-page - they sound great to me. I really like your style, and it is distinctive; I think it would be a shame to try to change it just to win the favour of some hangin' judge at a fiddle contest!

Apr 18, 2017 - 9:21:24 PM

775 posts
Joined Mar 19, 2009

Old Scratch . . . Good point, and thanks for the kind words.  ☝️


Edited by - jefferylong on 04/18/2017 21:22:41

Apr 19, 2017 - 7:07:42 PM

9679 posts
Joined Sep 23, 2009

Jeff, I didn't wanna say it, but I'm glad Old Scratch cane out and said it...it's your personal choice, of course...but in my opinion, your style, your playing, your uniqueness...its some very nice stuff you have there...I'd hate to see you go messing with your style too much...in my humble opinion.  Old time sounds pretty natural coming from your fiddle...I heard you playing and singing Lost John once and I bout flipped...I mean...it couldn't get any better!

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