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How would you approach this workshop if asked to teach it

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Jul 23, 2019 - 9:53:56 AM
7683 posts since 3/19/2009
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Lets say that a good friend comes to you and says that the person who is supposed to teach a fiddle bowing workshop.. had gotten sick.. He is asking YOU to fill in..The topic of the one hour workshop is "Bowing techniques  for Old TIme fiddling"... How would you approach this subject?  Where would you start.. What would you teach.. Lets assume that the attendees are all functional violin players but not experienced in Old Time fiddling... 

There can be no wrong answers since You get to teach Your way..

Jul 23, 2019 - 10:01:04 AM
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4284 posts since 9/26/2008
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I would start by telling them to lower the fiddle to their chest and choke up on the bow a lot. 

devil

Edited by - ChickenMan on 07/23/2019 10:01:26

Jul 23, 2019 - 10:48:23 AM
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Fiddler

USA

3977 posts since 6/22/2007

Ok - this is where personal preference comes in.

1. Teach saw stroke - down bow = one note and up bow = one note. Start with a simple tune, such as Twinkle, Twinkle.

2. Teach shuffle stroke. Start with a simple tune, such as Boil Them Cabbage. (One variation of Soldier's Joy works very well in this pattern.)

You can play almost everything with these two patterns. For beginners, this will take most of their concentration and energy.

Everything else is a variation on these two patterns. I know that there are all of those various slurs and pulses, but beginners don't need this.

3. Teach emphasizing phrases by changing bow pressure and speed. Shuffle pattern works best here.

In a 1 hour session, this is more than enough. I would also include a couple of sound samples of OT fiddlers and point out the patterns and what to listen for. Tommy Jackson recordings are great for this!

Jul 23, 2019 - 10:50:18 AM
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78 posts since 11/28/2018

I gave a similar workshop once. Using a simple tune as the basis (Old Horse and Buggy worked with my group) I had them play it with 5 different bow patterns ---

1. Simple sawstroke (with emphasis on the 2nd and 4th downbeats)
2. Pulsing (which I describe as down Down up UP)
3. Nashville shuffle
4. Georgia shuffle
5. Combination of Georgia shuffle and sawstroke

Whatever tune you choose be sure to practice it with all of these before starting. Sometimes doing it on the fly can be tricky --- for example, with Old Horse there are a few pickup notes.

Jul 23, 2019 - 11:03:05 AM
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DougD

USA

9266 posts since 12/2/2007

I would pass along these two tidbits:
"Zee bow, she goes up and she goes down." and
"You pick up on the way up what you lost on the way down."
I probably wouldn't be invited back.

Jul 23, 2019 - 11:04:01 AM

7683 posts since 3/19/2009
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quote:
Originally posted by Woodcutter

I gave a similar workshop once. Using a simple tune as the basis (Old Horse and Buggy worked with my group) I had them play it with 5 different bow patterns ---

1. Simple sawstroke (with emphasis on the 2nd and 4th downbeats)
2. Pulsing (which I describe as down Down up UP)
3. Nashville shuffle
4. Georgia shuffle
5. Combination of Georgia shuffle and sawstroke

Whatever tune you choose be sure to practice it with all of these before starting. Sometimes doing it on the fly can be tricky --- for example, with Old Horse there are a few pickup notes.


Yes, that sounds good.. Where do I sign up?smiley  I would start with a sawstroke but have the students put a little 'softness/sweetness' to it.. If attendees coup pick up of those 5 things in an hour it would be wonderful..

Jul 23, 2019 - 11:06:35 AM
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7683 posts since 3/19/2009
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Doug you may remember when I told the story about meeting an OT fiddler in England..I thought I'd impress him with my bowing knowledge (or lack thereof).. I asked him , "Do you have any special bowing techniques?".. His reply was, "Well, my bow mostly just goes up and down."

Jul 23, 2019 - 11:18:04 AM

DougD

USA

9266 posts since 12/2/2007

Well, I don't happen to remember that one. That quote is attributed to Stephane Grappelli (whom I saw perform once), which is why I wrote it in French.
The other quote is from Jerry Robichaud from the very good film "New England Fiddles" in a great little scene with a couple of his students, two very serious young sisters.
My bow goes back and forth quite a bit too I suspect, but that's because I learned partly from watching a guy over in Toast, NC who did that too.

Jul 23, 2019 - 11:21:44 AM

7683 posts since 3/19/2009
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My thinking is that I'd mostly demonstrate sawstroke and Nashville Shuffle strokes.. but I'd be sure to point out that playing on two strings can add to the OT sound of these two simple bow strokes.. Playing on two strings is something that I think can be introduced early IF the student is coordinated enough!! Just some thoughts..

Jul 23, 2019 - 2:19:45 PM
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gapbob

USA

636 posts since 4/20/2008

I would work on how to hold the bow, how to use a rotating bow for power and rhythm, talk about how to manage bow pressure.

About how bowing is used to create separation between notes or lack of separation between notes, and dynamics.

The goal is the sound, the techniques are used to get the sound, the techniques are not what we learn, we learn how to make the sound we want.

Patterns are just patterns.  (Yes, I did say that Pogo, but if you wanted to dispute it, you would have lived longer, so there!)

Edited by - gapbob on 07/23/2019 14:22:34

Jul 23, 2019 - 5:28:35 PM

1629 posts since 10/22/2007

I'd have to watch my John Hartford again, to bush up. I think he primerily had three strokes he could mix in and out of. Of course you could drown in the minutia. They'd have to really be desperate to ask me. My approach is too instinctive/intuitive. Most of the time if asked, and i start to explain, eyes glaze over. By the end of sixty minutes, you wouldn't know if you're afoot or horseback.

Jul 23, 2019 - 7:43:35 PM

bsed

USA

3985 posts since 6/23/2007

I'd spend my time teaching bow mechanics:

#bow in straight lines

#bow in the intended plane (hitting only strings you intend to hit)

#make a nice bold sound

#then some saw stroke & Nashville shuffle in a simple tune.

Jul 23, 2019 - 9:07:20 PM
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2356 posts since 9/13/2009

quote:
Originally posted by TuneWeaver

 Lets assume that the attendees are all functional violin players but not experienced in Old Time fiddling... 


I don't know that I would consider much of the suggestions for functional violinists. They probably know most of that. Maybe something about bow rocking or pulsing. 

Jul 24, 2019 - 12:43:15 AM

2069 posts since 8/23/2008

quote:
Originally posted by alaskafiddler
Maybe something about bow rocking or pulsing. 

Violinists would know this as bariolage and parlando respectively. 

Jul 24, 2019 - 4:45:07 AM
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4284 posts since 9/26/2008
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quote:
Originally posted by buckhenry
quote:
Originally posted by alaskafiddler
Maybe something about bow rocking or pulsing. 

Violinists would know this as bariolage and parlando respectively. 


And they would still sound like a classical violinist when they did it. smiley

I would start by getting rid of the constant vibrato that is the tell tale violin habit.

Jul 24, 2019 - 5:02:28 AM
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7683 posts since 3/19/2009
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quote:
Originally posted by ChickenMan
quote:
Originally posted by buckhenry
quote:
Originally posted by alaskafiddler
Maybe something about bow rocking or pulsing. 

Violinists would know this as bariolage and parlando respectively. 


And they would still sound like a classical violinist when they did it. smiley

I would start by getting rid of the constant vibrato that is the tell tale violin habit.


Yes, they would still sound like a classical violinist... EXCEPT there are many, like Deb Shebish (Bigtime Clifftop gal) who is an amazing classical as well as celtic and OT musician..who can pull it off.. I've found that classically trained musicians sometimes have trouble with the subtleties of rhythm and  bowing two strings and getting those little 'pickup' notes... SO I now think that I'd start out the workshop just doing rhymic simple bowing...

Jul 24, 2019 - 7:47:47 AM
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gapbob

USA

636 posts since 4/20/2008

I sat down with a "money" violinist (symphony, opera, etc. player) who made her living playing and tried to show her some things. She became angry and said "I've played 8 hours a day for years, there is nothing you can teach me!"

Of course this was wrong, a few minutes later she said, "I've never thought of it that way before." But I never really got her to listen to what I was saying. What I described above is exactly how I would teach violinists how to bow old-time music.

She still plays in a classical style, though, if she were willing, I could get her out of it in a month.  But that is the problem, most classical players are adept at what they know and prefer to keep using those techniques, even though I emphasize that what they know is great and won't be lost if they learn some other methods.  I like the playing of David Oistrakh, because much of what I do, I have seen him do on youtube, regarding bowing and hold, and it sounds good.

Edited by - gapbob on 07/24/2019 07:50:49

Jul 24, 2019 - 9:14:45 AM
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2356 posts since 9/13/2009

Good points Bob, that's what I was trying point to... rather than just basic bow direction, or patterns, or other things that oversimplify (and they already probably know) - focus on the nuances and subtle differences of articulation, rhythm, phrasing and groove. 

Jul 24, 2019 - 9:56:53 AM
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Fiddler

USA

3977 posts since 6/22/2007

Bowing is so inefficient! Back and forth and back and forth.....

What's needed is a rotary bow. A rosined surface on a wheel mounted on a spindle that is turned by hand or other turning mechanism. That would then eliminate all of this discussion. No need for bowing patterns and lengthy dissertations on the topic!!   <whew!>

...

...

.... oh wait, that's already been invented!! ---hurdy gurdy  <grin>

Jul 24, 2019 - 2:09:05 PM
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Jimbeaux

Germany

289 posts since 5/24/2016

What I think classical violinists don't know is circle and figure 8 bowing.

Another thing they might not be used to when looking at notation is that the bowing is never precisely indicated in the notation.

Also the emphasis on the down beat should be mentioned.

Jul 24, 2019 - 2:53:13 PM

7683 posts since 3/19/2009
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There is a little thing that I do that is called "kissing the bow".. It is when, while playing on say, the D string for example, for one note I'll pick up a quick A/D drone note. Just one note.. Classically trained people (most) always want to Drop to the A while all that is necessary is a little additional pressure on the bow and the event is done. The increased pressure causes the arc of the bow hair to change just enough that it almost touches the bow and that allows it to pick  up a 'drone' on the second string.... It is almost imperceptible..I believe some old timers called it 'skidding'.. I always have fun with that one..Do any of you know what I'm talking about? I also call this a Saw/shuffle if I'm doing sawstroke (although it works in a Nashville, also)..... but I don't know if that is something that Pogo and Tony may have discussed..

Edited by - TuneWeaver on 07/24/2019 14:59:11

Jul 24, 2019 - 4:34:22 PM
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2069 posts since 8/23/2008

quote:
Originally posted by TuneWeaver

Do any of you know what I'm talking about? 


Yes, violinists practice this also. A note is sustained while the adjacent  string is bowed in a rhythmic manner.

The violinist would know every technique a fiddler uses, the only difference is the music they play. 

If you play classical all your life you will sound like a classical player, as you do when you play OT all your life. 

Jul 24, 2019 - 4:40:24 PM

2069 posts since 8/23/2008

quote:
Originally posted by gapbob

I like the playing of David Oistrakh, because much of what I do, I have seen him do on youtube, regarding bowing and hold, and it sounds good.


There you go, see, it depends on which violinist you are talking about....!?

Jul 25, 2019 - 1:48:24 PM

7683 posts since 3/19/2009
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quote:
Originally posted by buckhenry
quote:
Originally posted by TuneWeaver

Do any of you know what I'm talking about? 


Yes, violinists practice this also. A note is sustained while the adjacent  string is bowed in a rhythmic manner.

The violinist would know every technique a fiddler uses, the only difference is the music they play. 

If you play classical all your life you will sound like a classical player, as you do when you play OT all your life. 


Exactly, but what they Should know and what I've seen doesn't correlate.... The thingy I'm talking about is something that Classically trained musicians have TROUBLE with.. Untrained fiddlers can usually do it right away..  This is not to say that Classically trained violinists can't do it but I'm saying that it in not included enough in the classical music or the musicians are still Learning .. such that they have a problem with it.. Theoretically, yes. they should be able to do it easily but in my Experience,  (and I've worked with many classically trained fiddlers).. it has regularly been a stumbling block..Not trying to argue, but just relating my experiences..Theory and practice often conflictsmiley  The technique is something that is so subtle that  even though classically trained people can make the note switch, that their way of doing it seems, to me at least, to be much more of a drastic bow movement that of OT musicians.That is why it is called skidding.. ..very subtle.. I suppose we'd have to SHOW each other the way it is done..  Again, I'm only relating what I've SEEN and have had to work with.. Obviously, classically trained musicians can do things I can only dream about.. but This little thing seems to be a stumbling block for most that I've worked with.smiley

Edited by - TuneWeaver on 07/25/2019 14:00:10

Jul 25, 2019 - 7:24:58 PM

2069 posts since 8/23/2008

quote:
Originally posted by TuneWeaver
 Untrained fiddlers can usually do it right away.. 

 


Of course they CAN.! laughThat's because this THINGY you call ''SKIDDING'' is a defect of the technique bariolage. sadTo the violinist it's like a MISTAKE, sadof course they will have TROUBLE  with it after practicing  in the classical tradition for years 'n' years..!? smiley Just like the OT player has TROUBLE with classical techniques..!?smiley

Of course ''skidding'' is appropriate and sounds good in OT,yes but, Instead of rubbishing violinistic techniquessad you would do WELL yes to take a leaf out of their book. That is, what ever technique you wish to master whether it be ''skidding'' or ''bariolage'', isolate it, repeat it, instead of trying to learn it by inserting it in a tune here and there. indecisionThis will improve your overall sound. wink

Jul 26, 2019 - 5:29:25 AM

7683 posts since 3/19/2009
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quote:
Originally posted by buckhenry
quote:
Originally posted by TuneWeaver
 Untrained fiddlers can usually do it right away.. 

 


Of course they CAN.! laughThat's because this THINGY you call ''SKIDDING'' is a defect of the technique bariolage. sadTo the violinist it's like a MISTAKE, sadof course they will have TROUBLE  with it after practicing  in the classical tradition for years 'n' years..!? smiley Just like the OT player has TROUBLE with classical techniques..!?smiley

Of course ''skidding'' is appropriate and sounds good in OT,yes but, Instead of rubbishing violinistic techniquessad you would do WELL yes to take a leaf out of their book. That is, what ever technique you wish to master whether it be ''skidding'' or ''bariolage'', isolate it, repeat it, instead of trying to learn it by inserting it in a tune here and there. indecisionThis will improve your overall sound. wink


smileysmileysmiley I love it when you talk like that.. Good sense of humor..  I've learned a lot from Classical training.. I have successfully completed the first three SUZUKI books.. I watched the teacher instruct my kids and I'd go home and try to do the same lesson.. Really, it helped..

Of course I had no idea what bariolage was when you mentioned it.. I looked at several Youtube videos and can say that I've seen that in OT music, yes.. It may not exactly be what I'm calling skidding.. Again, we'd probably have to get out fiddles out and do some demonstrations for each others.... 

Anyway, it is good to see some comment about classical playing.. Wish more classically trained  musicians would join conversations...

Edited by - TuneWeaver on 07/26/2019 05:44:54

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