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2023 Fiddle Retreat Classes 

 

Classes listed in blue are predominantly for fiddle. Classes in red type indicate instruments other than fiddle are welcome!

If you have questions about classes, your playing level or about festival logistics, feel free to contact our festival office. upperpotomac@gmail.com (304 263-2531)

Class 1 – Saturday 9:30am-11:30 am

  • Adv. Beg. - Int. Elements of the Sligo style (Brian Conway)   Learn a slow air and a hornpipe and some of the critical phrasing and bowing that makes them distinctive to the region. We will discuss practice tools designed to enhance playing speed, while also improving swing and expression. 

  • Int. Contra Dance Fiddle (Audrey Knuth)   Learn a few contra dance tunes and stylistic variations and techniques to make it danceable and fun!

  • Int. Adv.. Donegal Tune Workshop  (Seán Heely)   Seánlikes to refer to Donegal music as the bridge between Irish and Scottish. There is a bit of both in this style as well as a fiddle sound and repertoire that is all its own! Come learn what makes it different and walk away with a tune or two in this powerful, driving style of fiddling!

  • Int. Adv.. Old Time Band Intensive  (Rachel Eddy)  This class will look at the different roles of each instrument, and how they can contribute to creating the Oldtime sound.  Using a few simple tunes we will practice listening and playing in ways that help lift up and hold together a jam or a dance.               

 

Class 2 – Saturday 1:30-3:30pm

  •  Adv. Beg.- Int.  Old Time Bowing Intensive (Rachel Eddy)    Jumpstart your fiddle driving engine - This class will be aimed at getting a feel for Old-time bowing.  We will start by breaking down the mechanics of how we sit, how we hold our instruments, and how we can make music with our whole selves.

  • Int.- Adv. The Joy of English Dance Fiddle (Audrey Knuth)    Learn a few English Country Dance tunes with variations and techniques to make them danceable and fun!  

  •  Int.-Adv. Strathspeys from Scotland and Cape Breton  (Seán Heely)  The Strathspey is the most Scottish of all tunes! What are the differences between strathspeys played in Scotland and Cape Breton? Come and learn two strathspeys and also some great history about this fascinating tune type. 

  •  Int. - Adv. Core Irish Session Tunes  (Brian Conway)    With the increase in new compositions it is often easy to overlook some of the core classic traditional Irish tunes. In addition to teaching a few of the standards, I will record tunes requested by the students.  

 

Saturday Mini Classes -3:45- 4:45pm 

Strategies on Crafting Sets of Tunes  (Seán Heely)
For many, the idea of stringing tunes together one after another can be daunting! Come learn from Seán on how to make the right choices for transitions, key changes and other elements to make your sets polished! 

Other classes are still TBA.

Class 3 – Sunday  9:30am-11:30 am 

  • Adv. Beg.- Int. Introduction the the New England Fiddle Style  (Audrey Knuth)   Enjoy learning some core contra dance tune repertoire and what makes them so powerful for dancing.

  • Int. -Adv.  Jiggery Pokery: Exploring jigs, slip jigs and other bouncy tunes (Brian Conway)      This class will dive deep into what make a jig sound like a jig. Emphasis will be on dissecting one or two jigs and exploring how bowing augments phrasing. For those challenged by playing faster the class will also discuss techniques and practice methods for playing at session tempo. 

  •  Int.-Adv. Challenging Tunes from the Old Time Repertoire (Rachel Eddy)    Be prepared for anything from crooked tunes to alternate tunings as you explore some of Rachel's favorites. Aimed mostly at fiddles, but other instruments welcome with permission.

  • Int. - AdvBowing Theory in Tunes "Bowing Bootcamp (Seán Heely)   The way we bow whether slurred or separate can completely change emphasis and style in tunes. It is one of the most important aspects of fiddling. We will focus on reels and jigs and how to get the right lilt and accent.  

 

Class 4 – Sunday 1:30-3:30 pm

  • Adv. Beg.-Int. Gorgeous Scottish Gaelic Airs and Waltzes (Seán Heely)   The music of the Gaels is some of the most stunning in the fiddle repertoire. The leaping intervals, beautifully structured melodies and rhythms of the Gaelic language present in the tunes are truly special. Bring any instrument and learn a few tunes influenced by the Gaelic culture!                      

  • Int.-Adv. Finding the Groove in Old Time Music (Rachel Eddy)   Driving your fiddling, and keeping it between the rhythmic lines.  This class will focus on giving each note what it needs to be dynamic, and using bowing patterns and pulses to create groove in each phrase.     

  • Int. - Adv.  Reel Trickery (Brian Conway)    A classic reel or two will be broken down as the relationship between bowing and phrasing is explored. Practice tools for enhancing speed without sacrificing swing and expression will also be discussed.         

  • Int. -Adv. English Dance Band (Audrey Knuth)  Explore repertoire from 4 centuries of English Dance music and work on pieces in ensemble to develop arranging, timing and listening skills.         .