Learn to Play Fiddle!
Have you ever wanted to play the violin? Jam with friends? Make Music? Take some time to learn fiddle in this Age of COVID?
Erik Hoffman has been teaching fiddle for over 20 years, and teaching a fiddle class at The Freight & Salvage for around 10 years. Classes have gone Zoom! So this class is now available worldwide!
Beginning Fiddle I, From the Ground Up
We start making our fiddle is set up and tuned. The we go to how to hold the fiddle and bow, how to make sound. We start with familiar melodies so your ears train your fingers. We cover learning by ear and sight (seeing what finger goes where). Then we begin reading music. Along the way, we learn to have fun in the process! We learn from the repertoire heard in contra and square dances, though the basic techniques apply to almost all styles.
This class is through The Freight and Salvage in Berkeley, and is a six week course. Then go on to Beginning Fiddle II, another six week course.
To Register: https://www.thefreight.org/learn-to-play/classes/
First Class: Monday, September 7, 2020, at 5:30 PDT, then weekly for six weeks.
What you need:
* A Working Violin
* A Bow
* Some Rosin
* A Chromatic Tuner
* A shoulder rest (good ones are made by Kun and Wolf)
What some students have said:
I started learning fiddle in Erik's adult beginners' class and my classmates and I were playing in the community band for dances in 5 months! Erik is the most inclusive, supportive, and knowledgeable multi-instrument musician and teacher you may ever meet. It is a natural skill of his to make his students feel welcome, highly motivated to try and learn, and have extreme fun every step of the way. I wish I could talk to you in person since, in these few sentences it's just not possible to tell you how inimitable Erik is.
Erik is a teacher, philosopher, expert musician and all-around nice guy; one of those rare teachers who can quickly assess a student's level and instinctively knows what they need to know at that moment of their musical development.
He is very relaxed and puts his students at ease so that they too are relaxed and at their best. I've seen Erik immediately connect with people of all ages in a genuine, caring way that is thoughtful and kind; never judgmental.
He gently and respectfully encourages his students to progress instead of making them feel inferior. No one ever leaves a lesson with Erik feeling ashamed about their abilities or that they "should" be doing something, instead they leave with a sense of accomplishment and inspiration.
Erik is a wonderful teacher-he's encouraging and informative, and his love of the music shines through.
Erik is a wonderful teacher and couldn't recommend him more. He shares from a wealth of experience and skillfulness, and at the same time is patient and encouraging with rank beginners. Communicating his own enthusiasm, sense of humor and community spirit, Erik is extraordinarily generous in his teaching and time-for instance, sending out summaries and notes of what was covered after each class, staying afterwards to answer questions, offering practice sessions, and inviting everyone at whatever level to participate in the community band that plays for local contra dances.
The Fiddling Repertoire, and Beginning Fiddle classes taught by Erik Hoffman at the Freight are terrific and very affordable. Erik is knowledgeable in and covers a wide range of fiddle music, including Old-time, Irish, Scottish, Scandinavian, French, and more. Erik is happy to tailor courses to the interests of his students. He also includes a fair amount of music theory and teaches students various bowing patterns and embellishments.
Erik is an effusively generous teacher. Whether you've never picked up an instrument before in your life or you're looking to step up your game for playing for dances, Erik is willing and able to show you something new, all while maintaining a fun and supportive environment. And he has such a wonderful sense of curiosity and exploration as a musician that you may find yourself on an adventure together!
Hi, everyone! My name is Olivia Barry. I am a member of the CDSS Community
Culture & Safety Task Group (CCSTG). We are a volunteer group of board and
community members working to compile a set of resources and examples for
folk who are ready to dive in to work on safety of all kinds on the dance
floor or music circle. An important element of such an effort is a *Statement
of Community Values*. The goal of this statement is to identify core
values for a local group. Core values communicate to the outside world what
is important to you and what people can expect from your organization or
events. In our last strategic planning process, CDSS identified core values
for our work and we want to help local groups do the same.
To assist groups in creating such a statement, the CCSTG aims to create a
clearinghouse of samples for local communities across our constituency, and
to synthesize existing examples into a succinct template or writing guide
to help groups develop a statement of their own. We are asking our
communities to fill out a short survey related to content that has already
been developed surrounding your *community's values* to serve as examples.
Other topics will be developed as this work unfolds, and we'll be sending
additional short surveys as well as progress reports in the coming months.
Please take a moment to fill out the survey to help identify who among you
has resources on this topic that might be valuable to others:
Thank you in advance for any and all information you share! We hope this
project will reflect and support the greater music, song, and dance
community. If you would like to contact us with questions or content,
please email CDSS.SafetyTG(a)gmail.com!
Have a wonderful weekend,
CDSS CCSTG Community Member
Hi fellow dance musicians,
What creative ways are you finding to play dance music these days? Are you
working on any music-related projects?
The pandemic has certainly slowed me down. However, there's a few projects
that I'm really enjoying...
-The open band that I lead is still meeting once a month. We gather through
zoom, spending about about 1/3 of the time visiting and the rest playing
music. Only one mic can be on for the music playing but that seems to be
working well. At first, it was either the lead fiddler or myself (piano).
The last two sessions have involved the fiddler and I playing together
while physically distanced outside.
-I've been wanting to get better at playing fiddle and a friend in the US
has been interested in learning how to play Cape Breton style piano so
we've recently started swapping weekly lessons. We each teach for 15
minutes which gives the other person just enough to work on for the next
week. (We both have kids so there isn't much practice time!)
-I'm working my way through a new tune book: Honeywood by Emilyn Stam and
John Williams. It's full of absolutely gorgeous European dance tunes...
-Finally, one of our local contra dancers organized a physically-distant
picnic that was open to all last week. Ontario is currently allowing a
maximum of 100 people to gather outside in groups as long as they maintain
distance. 20-30 people showed up and everyone respected distance. I
organized a few musicians to attend and we played in the background. There
was no dancing but the dancers appreciated the music.
I'm curious as to what you are up to!
:) Emily in Ottawa
I’d like to know people’s opinion of using music while playing for a contra dance. Is it easier to create excitement if the musicians play by ear? Thanks in advance for your opinion, Tom Hinds
Sent from my iPad
The question of Keys, Key Signatures, and Modes comes up again and again.
Most explanations seem somewhat jumbled and/or full of technical description.
This is confusing, but over the years (decades?) it has become clearer to me.
It comes down to:
What note does the tune resolve too? (its Tonic Note)
What notes are in the scale of the tune? (how many Flats or Sharps)
Chords give clues, but they are subjective or 'symptomatic' as chord choices are not always universally agreed upon.
Why does it matter what the Key is?
Knowing what the Key is alerts melody players what notes, and chord players what chords, to expect (or not expect).
Yes, it is possible to play well without knowing what Key, Notes, or Chords you are playing, but most people recognize they have names; and it is easier to understand if everyone uses the correct names.
Tunes may also contain 'accidental' notes (not in the scale of the Key), but these usually stand out as different - the more one plays the more intuitive they are.
TRAD MUSIC ONLY USES 4 MODES?
Major, Mixolydian, Dorian, and Minor are the 4 Modes that virtually all Tradition (Western) Music use - Celtic, Old Time, Country, Blues, Bluegrass, Rhythm & Blues; and I believe Rock, and maybe Jazz too.
Tunes that are in a Major (Ionian) Key tend to be self-evident, however the mislabeling of tunes in Minor (Aeolian) and 'Modal' Keys (Mixolydian and Dorian) cloud that clarity. There are also 3 other 'Authentic' Modes (Phrygian, Locrian, and Lydian) that rarely come up.
There also happen to be 7 "Plagal (or Hypo-) Modes" where tunes resolve to the fourth note of the scale, instead of the first (or last) note. These are typically used in 'Renaissance' music, but commonly are likely never noticed that there is a 'different' name for the scale of same notes. For example the Hypoionian uses the same notes as the Ionian (Major), but the fourth note is the tonic.
HOW TO DETERMINE THE KEY?
1) determine what note a tune (or each of its parts) resolve to - its Tonic Note.
2) determine what notes are played (comprise the scale - how many sharps or flats) - its Key Signature
3) match the Tonic Note and Key Signature with the appropriate Key Name.
KEY NAME is the Tonic NOTE followed by the MODE:
Start by presuming the note it resolves to is a Major Key, and how many flats or sharps would that be?
C Major = 0b / 0#
G Major = 1#
D Major = 2#
A Major = 3#
E Major = 4#
B Major = 7b / 5#
Gb (F#) Major = 6b / 6#
Db (C#) Major = 5b / 7#
Ab (G#) Major = 4b
Eb (D#) Major = 3b
Bb (A#) Major = 2b
F Major = 1b
If less sharps (or more flats) are used, how many?
0 fewer, then Major (Ionian)
-1# (or +1b), then Mixolydian
-2# (or +2b), then Dorian
-3# (or +3b), then Minor (Aeolian)
-4# (or +4b), then Phrygian
-5# (or +5b), then Locrian
-6# (or +6b), then Lydian
If a tune resolve to A:
A Major has 3#s
but Key signature (or actual #s in tune) is 1#
then A Dorian
The attached chart may make it clearer.
Hi fellow dance musicians.
You might be interested in the event below if you like working with kids.
It looks as though there will be a few presentations focused on developing
youth traditional music ensembles....
The English Folk Dance and Song Society is holding a free online event for
Folk Educators and it's open to those of us in North America. Details and
registration info is below.
I asked the organizer whether it would be relevant to those of us across
the pond. Kerry said
*There will be some practical sessions, as well as presentations, on the
day. And although it will be focused on projects in the North West and
Yorkshire, I should think it would be appealing to folk educators from all
over. It's about the rationale, approach to the material and the positive
impact on the participants/communities, and often the educators too, that
is usually the most interesting. *
Maybe see you at the event?!
:) Emily in Ottawa
*Invitation to the next EFDSS ONLINE: Folk Education Development Day*
Our Folk Educators Group
network will be holding its first ever online informal conference day.
*Friday 19 June 2020,* 10:30am-4:30pm (10.30am-11am Arrivals in the Zoom
You are warmly welcomed to attend this free informal conference and CPD
event, organised by EFDSS’ Folk Educators Group. Folk Education Development
Days are typically attended by 30 – 40 people: a mixture of people working
in folk arts education and related sectors such as music, dance, arts,
heritage and education. As ever, this will be an action-packed day of
presentations, practical sessions and discussions, designed to be
thought-provoking, informative and enjoyable, and to encourage
knowledge-sharing, discussion and networking.
The theme for the day is: Celebrating folk education in the North West
We’ll be focusing on folk education initiatives in the Greater Manchester
area and will be presenting the day in partnership with our friends at
English Folk Expo who are based in Rochdale, as well as other friends and
partners in the North West and Yorkshire.
*More details and to book a free place*
Read on for more details…
*Outline of the Day*
The theme for the day: Celebrating folk education in the North West
Join us for an action-packed day of presentations, practical sessions and
discussions. The day will be thought provoking, informative and enjoyable,
and will encourage knowledge-sharing, discussion and networking.
· Rachel Elliott, Education Director and Sarah Jones, Programme
Manager, National Youth Folk Ensemble - an update from the EFDSS Education
Department on current work and future plans.
· Tom Besford, Chief Executive, English Folk Expo - a presentation
about EFEx, covering their response during COVID 19, an overview of their
Artist Development Programme and their Promoter Training Programme,
including Rochdale Folk Festival.
· Georgia Woodhead, clog dance teacher with Oakenhoof Folk Arts – an
overview of their work, including a practical session.
· Kath Becker and Sorrel Harty, Bolton Music Service - setting up and
running the Greater Manchester Folk Ensemble, and more widely about Bolton
Music Service and the Greater Manchester Music Hub.
· Rebecca Denniff, Flash Company Arts - a presentation of their
Plough Stots project in Yorkshire, including a practical session.
· Bella Hardy, Learning Programme Manager*, *Band on the Wall – an
overview of their work, including a practical session.
Having been enthused by the speakers' presentations, there will
be the opportunity for discussion and sharing of ideas in breakout rooms.
The agenda will be available soon and you can *book your free place here
*Here's a bit more information about EFDSS' Folk Educators Group...*
The Folk Educators Group
is a national networking group of folk arts educators from across England
and beyond, run by the English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS). Our
membership encompasses all forms of the folk arts and we currently have
over 360 members.
Established in March 2011 the Group has become a rapidly growing network
committed to promoting high quality folk arts education and supporting the
practitioners who deliver it.
It exists to provide peer information and support, and to encourage
dialogue with the wider worlds of culture, learning and participation. The
Folk Educators Group also offers other organisations a platform through
which to consult, or inform, a committed group of folk arts educators.
CDMR has some news since my last announcement. Please share this far and wide…
Country Dance Music Radio is now playing at
CDMR’s first purpose is to provide a two-way support between musicians and dancers. Dancers can get some of that missing musical uplift any time day or night, and musicians can get your donations and purchases to help support them. Zoom concerts are just once (unless I can record them!) but CDMR is always there for you. Please listen in sometime soon!
✦ The North Bay Country Dance Society is hosting a Zoom concert featuring Rodney Miller, and Country Dance Music Radio will simulcast it! In this way lots more people can hear the concert. It will be recorded and repeated thereafter on CDMR.
The concert is Saturday, May 9
—Pacific time: 7:00 pm to 8:00 pm
—Eastern US time: 10:00 pm to 11:00 pm
Details are here: https://radio.contracorner.com/news/rodney-miller-live-and-a.html <https://radio.contracorner.com/news/rodney-miller-live-and-a.html>
✦ CDMR’s schedule has been renovated. Now you will find segments focused on song, dance, waltzing, calm time, and short musician spotlights.
You can reach the DJ at bob(a)contracorner.com <mailto:email@example.com>.
Staying safe but missing our dancing,
Country Dance Music Radio https://radio.contracorner.com <https://radio.contracorner.com/>
Hello Shared Weight community,
I’m sorry for the short notice, but I need to move the mailing lists to a different host this evening. There will be some down time between now and 10pm EST. No messages will be lost, though there may be duplicates in the digests.
I’ll send another email once the move is complete.
Nitty gritty details: AWS hosting looked like the right option, but their pricing structure is not clear. Turns out to cost nearly 2x what I had expected. I am moving us (back) to Linode, where we should have stayed all along. Better service, clear pricing, good support.
Hello fellow trad dance musicians,
I’m reaching out on behalf of CDSS regarding two items that we hope may be
of interest to some of you. (Apologies if you are on a few Shared Weight
lists as I'm sending similar messages to many of the lists.)
*1. Are you offering any online events for traditional dance, music, and/or
Many of you may know of this but in case you don't.... CDSS is maintaining
an extensive list of online events and we would be happy to include your
events as part of the list. Events can be free, by donation, or involve a
fee. Take a quick peek - there are jam sessions, online concerts,
workshops, sings, etc.
We’ve been sharing the event listing widely through our network and we
feature a handful of events each week through social media.
Check out the event listing here:
Submit an online event here:
*2. Do you know of great resources for children and parents who enjoy
traditional dance, music, and/or song?*
We would love to include them as part of the new Families section of our
Resource Portal which is officially launching this weekend. A few notes:
-These particular resources need to be free (or for sale in the CDSS
-If you’re not familiar with other sections of our Resource Portal, the
format of resources vary greatly (e.g., link to external website; online
video; audio clip; PDF of an activity).
-At this critical time of physical distancing, we're particularly looking
for resources that parents can access online. However, we welcome other
resources as well (e.g., lists of books they can find in their local
Check out the Families section here (in development):
Submit a resource here: https://www.cdss.org/share-your-resource
Writing from Ottawa, ON
The Country Dance Music Radio station has its first modern artist! I am happy to welcome Chimney Swift. Currently their tracks play at these times:
Hour-long programs (BST/EDT/PST)
10 AM/5 AM/3 AM—Chimney Swift
3 PM/10 AM/7 AM—Chimney Swift
5 PM/2 PM/11 AM—Chimney Swift
11 PM/6 PM/3 PM—Chimney Swift
3 AM/10 PM/7 PM—Chimney Swift
I hope more musicians will participate! The station link is: