The Intricate Jig – Emma Sweeney

Emma is an excellent fiddle player with the confidence to bring her own personality to traditional Irish music. Her interpretations of jigs are particularly magical to behold! In this practical workshop she delves deeply into some of the intricacies involved in playing a jig, from learning the tune to crafting a memorable performance.

Good Vibrations! – Miranda Rutter

A look at Alexander Technique for fiddlers and how a relaxed posture can help create a bigger and rounder tone. Miranda will include simple exercises focusing on the vibrations of the fiddle to enable you to be as relaxed as possible while playing, helping you to practice an ergonomic posture in order to augment a healthy and sustainable musical performance style.

Improving Your Sound – Sam Sweeney

Sam shares his expertise on the sonic aspects of expressive fiddling within the folk genre and beyond, looking at ways of “making contact” with your instrument, getting the tone you want – whether sweet, earthy or edgy – and so allowing your own personal style to sing out through the fiddle.

English Repertoire, from page to playing – Eliza Carthy

Eliza shares her tips on finding gems – sometimes hidden – in English tune books and manuscripts, and looks at ways in which she has put her own stamp on them and in so doing reinvigorated whole aspects of a great fiddling tradition for a new generation. Some ability to read music will be helpful.

Appalachian Bowing Styles – Brittany Haas

Brittany will teach some tunes and some specific bowings to apply to them, as well as discussing the general concepts of old-timey bowing. We will work on some patterns and learn how to do bow rocks and other right hand ornamentations.

Playing with others – Sam Sweeney and Rob Harbron

Sam hooks up with extraordinary English concertina player Rob Harbron for this practical exploration of how it feels to combine fiddle with other instruments, how and when to stray from the tune whilst preserving a sense of unity, and how players can transcend their instrumentation and simply make music together.

Form v Substance – Paul Davenport

Is the modern

fiddler’s preference for repertoire and tone over traditional style a benefit to the tradition or a hindrance to individuality and character? Sheffield fiddler and singer Paul leads a practical session in which we listen to recordings of English traditional musicians, and attempt to reproduce aspects of their styles. Discussion as to the implications of our findings will follow.

Beginning Improvisation – Josie Wexler

Do you want to move beyond playing tunes and chords that you’ve learned by rote, but are feeling nervous or unsure how to begin? In this workshop we will go over some tricks for starting to improvise, starting with basic drones and moving to more complex ideas, playing “follow the leader” and other games, and hopefully having some fun. Come and unleash your wild improvisational self!

Learning Tunes in Cross Tunings – Brittany Haas

In this session the group will explore some of the cross-tunings used in old-time music. Brittany will teach a tune in AEAE (“sawmill tuning”), and perhaps explore the potentials in AEAC# (“black mountain rag tuning”) ADAE or DDAD.

Irish Fiddle Styles in the 21st Century – Emma Sweeney

What do we mean when we talk about Irish fiddle styles? How accurate are our perceptions of style and region, and to what extent is it legitimate to think in terms of regional or national style in an age of globalization? Emma Sweeney presents a mixture of music and chat, and invites your opinions for discussion.

Fiddlesinging – Nancy Kerr

Whether you are new to singing and fiddling together, have dabbled, or are an old hand – learn a song from Nancy and join her in exploring some of the ways in which the fiddle can support and accompany.

The Emotive Fiddle in the Klezmer Tradition – Josie Wexler

Klezmer music is Jewish music from Eastern Europe, and originally most of it was played on the fiddle. It is very emotive music, and much of the style is based on using instruments to imitate the sounds of human speech and human emotions like crying and laughing. In this workshop we will play some Klezmer tunes and look at how to big up the emotions: using ornamentation, tempo and other tricks to make your audience laugh, weep, and jump with joy.

Swedish Dance Tunes – Rowan Rheingans

Rowan will spend time looking at the distinctive character, rhythm and bowing of a number of tunes, including explorations of natural scales, unusual time signatures and different tunings in Scandinavian music. Aimed at those new to fiddle music from Sweden and Norway as well as players who are familiar with some of this repertoire.

Exploring Roles for the Viola in Folk Music – Miranda Rutter

Viola specialist Miranda will use a masterclass format to examine the strength and potential of the viola as a folk instrument, exploring techniques for playing tunes, chords, rhythm and harmonies. Aimed both at players willing to actively participate and audience members happy to observe – all are welcome!

Improvisation in a Bluegrass/Old Time Style – Brittany Haas

The group will discuss the concepts of improvising on fiddle tunes and on songs. We will also experiment with taking solos, and with playing fills between vocal lines. We will also do some interactive improvising, where we play off of each others’ ideas.

Introduction to Kamanja (Moroccan Fiddle) – Hassan Erraji

The Moroccan fiddle, violin or Kamanja is played both on the knee and shoulder, and commands an important role in traditional music (moussiqa taqliydiya), folk music perpetuated by al”ita style of music and the Arabo-Andalusian repertoire. Sheperds in the countryside are known for their inventive makeshift kamanjas, made using a square tin, a solid bamboo stick and, if no nylon strings are available, extracting strings from bicycle breaks. A bent olive stick with hair from horse or mule tail provides a makeshift bow, and another is cut to size and turned into a bridge. Featuring his own compositions as well as rich traditional repertoires, Hassan Erraji will demonstrate some styles of playing the Kamanja, which is tuned G-D-G-D to accommodate the quarter-tones, the soul of the maqams (or maqamat) in Arab music.

Southern Appalachian Old Time Fiddle – Jock Tyldesley

Jock has spent a long time concentrating on old time fiddling, touring worldwide with his regular bands and US acts such as Eddie LeJeune, The Dirk Powell Band, Martha Scanlan and many more. Jock is an instinctive tutor, teaching by ear and concentrating on the feel and rhythm of the music as much as the tune, and trying to bring out the ‘drive’ in peoples’ playing.

Sheffield’s Blind Fiddlers and their Repertoire – Paul Davenport

For around 50 years, in the adolescence of the industrial revolution, Sheffield nurtured a musical phenomenon. Its creator was publican and violinist Samuel Goodlad, who organized and taught the blind fiddlers, thereby supporting whole families and fostering musical standards well above the norm. Using practical examples, Paul places these fascinating musicians in a musical continuum and assesses the extent of Goodlad’s legacy.

Playing for Dancing – Bryony Griffith

Expert dance musician with The Demon Barbers, The Lock In, Bedlam, Dog Rose and The Newcastle Kingsmen, Bryony Griffith takes you through the basics, the subtleties and the complexities of using the fiddle in ritual and social dance. Looking at Rapper, Morris, Clog and Ceilidh, we will discuss choosing the right tune and tempo for the dance and steps, playing to the dancer, using effective key changes and phrasing to drive the dance, techniques to make yourself heard, bowing patterns and wrist control to add dynamics and accents. Dots for some tune sets and bowing exercises will be provided but we will also work by ear.

3/2 Old and New – Nancy Kerr

Nancy explores evolving folk fiddle traditions in Britain through the core strands of skill, style, and repertoire. Using the transmission of two 3/2 or “Old English” hornpipes, one new and one old, to touch on subjects such as tone and pitch, bow control and agility, sound texture, learning by ear and integrating pizzicato, she will help you build an expressive and textured approach.