What fiddling means to me | TheUnion.com

What fiddling means to me

(Editor’s note: There’s a big movement welling up in Western Nevada County around fiddling. One of the county’s own, Ethan Lewis, learned his chops at Alasdair Fraser’s Valley of the Moon School of Scottish Fiddling and since then has been teaching fiddling locally. As a result quite a few young local fiddlers are camp attendees.)

What fiddling means to me

I’m 25, live in Grass Valley and teach violin/fiddle lessons and classes for a living. Although I started playing classical violin when I was 4 1/2, it wasn’t until I was 13 and heard Alasdair perform that I began to play Scottish and Irish music. I really love his music.

Then I found out about his camp near Santa Cruz, and I’ve been going there nearly every year since.

I started teaching fiddle in Auburn at Music and More at 15. When Alasdair decided to start a local camp a few years ago I started teaching there. Through that I met people who worked at the Nevada City School of the Arts. The school bought 30 fiddles and now I teach classes there as well.

It’s unique to have Celtic fiddle offered verses the more usual Suzuki method. Fiddling is a really great way to explore music and have fun. By putting a huge emphasis on learning by ear (without music), it really forces your ear to develop-an important skill no matter what kind of music or instrument you play.

And such traditional music is really social because it encourages playing with other people a lot. Because you build up a common repertoire from memory you can run into other musicians anywhere and be able to start jamming on the spot. Fiddling brings together people of all ages and abilities. In fact, the concert tomorrow (Friday) will include people who never touched a fiddle before this week all the way up to touring musicians. Everyone is encouraged to play whatever they can and find parts that fit their level.

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