Saturday, August 29, 2009

Fiddle Fever Summer Camp 2009

This year Benny and I tried something completely different, the Fiddle Fever camp hosted by the Academy of Music. The camp is taught by local music star Carol Thomas Downing, director of the Virginia Children's Chorus, Suzuki teacher, and fiddler!

Because of Benny's tendency to be an active participant, his constant need to express himself verbally and also by bow-jousting and playing his instrument out of turn, and because I too have really loved fiddling, in my day, I decided to be a student of the camp also.

It was a fantastic experience! Carol Downing is an incredibly gifted teacher -- fun, inspiring, and creative. She had a whole room full of children, aged 7 to 17 (and then me, age 107), some of whom could barely read a note of sheet music and some of whom were accomplished violinists, all on the same page, at the same tempo, with the same twinkle in their eyes. I was impressed and then amazed, watching her technique.

Benny had a fantastic time, constantly busy, happy with his instrument, and really learning not only new songs but new techniques and ornaments, a whole new feeling of playing the violin. For this child who has been working hard on Suzuki repertoire for many years, the fiddling tunes were a delightful break. No less beautiful, but more whimsical, more emotional, more fun! And he could go as fast as he wanted, in practice, I told him. This made it easier for him to tone it down during the performances.

I highly recommend Carol Thomas Downing's Fiddle Fever Camp. We will definitely be there next year -- maybe we'll see you too!

Here are a few pictures from our final performance at Conklin's Irish Rover, an Irish pub in Virginia Beach that hosts live Irish music every first and third Sunday. For more pictures and video, check out my Flickr set for our summer violin camps. The fiddle tunes/pictures are the first nine entries.

Morrison's Jig:

Fiddlers, youngest in front, including Amy Ferebee on guitar:

Other guest musicians included Martha Giles on hammer dulcimer player and singer Marsha Wallace:

The experience was great for Benny and for me too. We have been playing our fiddle tunes all summer, and I'm even working on polishing my tin whistle skills again. A good reminder that having fun with music is the best motivator, as we approach Suzuki Book 6 and all the hours of scales and arpeggios that implies.

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