Music Workshops and Classes

For music camps, festivals, schools, colleges, fiddlers' associations or clubs, and many other situations
Format: One hour minimum, but 90 minutes is better. Single meetings, daily classes, all-day or intensive weekend workshops

Here are the workshops I will lead at Fiddle Hell Massacusetts, Nov 6-8, 2016:

Fri 12:30 pm
French Breton Dance Tunes [Int] Bob Wills Room - While instrumental music from Brittany (or Bretagne) is traditionally played on the biniou bagpipe and bombarde, the fiddle has become established in the tradition as well. We'll learn a driving dance tune from Brittany and how to "tile" it in Breton call-and-response style.

Fri 2pm
Try Your Hand at Some Tricky Swedish Polskas [Adv] Skinner - Laurie will teach Swedish polskas that lift your spirits and your bow, from her Scandinavian Fiddle Tradition project. This is irresistable dance music, with unique rhythms and entrancing fiddle harmonies. Advanced tunes, but no prior knowledge of the style is required.

Fri 5pm
Laurie Hart (fiddle) & Eric Eid-Reiner (piano): New England Jam [Mostly Int] Dunham - Not too difficult, not too fast, draw your bow as the tunes go past.

Fri 8pm
Norwegian Tune Workshop - Learn a Pols or Two [Int] Olsson - Pols is to Norway as polska is to Sweden, a family of couple dances. Pols from Røros village are fairly simple tunes but with powerful and sometimes assymetrical rhythm, lots of drones and ornaments. We will carefully tune our G strings up to A (the trick is to tune down first so you don’t break a string).

Sat 11am
Learn "Loftus Jones" by Turlough O'Carolan (Irish) [Adv] MacMaster - Irish harper O’Carolan lived from 1670 to 1738 and left a legacy of fantastic tunes. This is one of his best, and Laurie’s favorite.

Sat 12:30pm
Dance Fiddling in Québec, Ireland, New England & Scandinavia [Listening for All Levels] Jarrell - What you need to know to play danceably for Québec quadrilles, Irish step dancing, New England contras and Scandinavian couple dances. Laurie will demonstrate and discuss the quirks of repertoire, tempo and rhythm unique to each. Bring questions!

Sat 3:30pm
Kids' Tune Workshop [Int] Carignan - Learn a French Canadian tune by ear. We’ll choose one that no one knows yet (except Laurie of course) but is popular in jam sessions. Bring a recording device to help remember it later.

Sat 5pm
Learn an Easy Swedish Waltz [Beg] Wills - A nice melancholy one that pulls on your heartstrings, taught by ear in small bits you can remember.

Sun 9:30am
How to Jam - Advice and a Chance to Try it Out [Beg] Clifford - For inexperienced or shy folks who are reluctant to start or join a tune in a jam session. Laurie will explain how jams work, and how to learn new tunes on the fly without bothering anyone. She will gently and supportively give folks a chance to try leading a tune and playing along with eachother.

Sun 11am
Sizzling Minor Tunes [Adv] Baker - We’ll learn Hommage à Dorothy, a sexy French-style waltz composed by Québec accordionist Phillippe Bruneau (1934-2011) for pianist Dorothy Hogan (d. 2004). Familiarity with 2nd and 3rd position will be helpful.

Sun 2pm
MINI CONCERT - "Dance Fiddlers" David Kaynor (fiddle), Laurie Hart (hardanger fiddle), Becky Tracy (fiddle) & Bethany Waickman (guitar) [Listening for All Levels] Dunham - Laurie will play a selection of Norwegian dance tunes on the highly decorated hardanger fiddle (hardingfele) with 5 resonant understrings.

Sun 3:30
Jaunty Jigs from Québec [Int] Baker - Let Laurie lead you on a jolly jig jaunt. Her excellent book Danse ce Soir! Fiddle and Accordion Music of Québec is available in the Fiddle Hell Store.

Other Workshop topics I can lead

Making the transition from classical violin to fiddle: for violinists and other classical musicians. This is a transformation I went through in the 1980s. My hands-on presentation covers which elements of classical training to keep, which elements to get beyond, what to develop instead, and what there is to gain from entry into the fiddling world.
Tune-learning by ear: Contradance, Irish, Scandinavian, Québec, Breton and many other fiddle styles
Fiddle from scratch: for complete- or almost-beginners
Sizzling minor tunes: gems from my contradance, French, gypsy, Balkan, Finnish and East European repertoire
Mini-lessons or master classes: individuals sign up for 15-20 minutes of one-on-one instruction, with or without others observing.
Easy Breton tunes: We'll learn some simple tunes from Brittany, the northwesternmost corner of France. We'll look at how to play the tunes authentically using "tiling," the Breton form of call-and-response playing. All instruments are welcome. Handouts and sheet music will be available.
Try a nyckelharpa: open to all. I will bring along 2 or 3 nyckelharpas, give a short demo and lesson, and then let everyone make some noise! Nyckelharpa is a bowed string instrument indigenous to Sweden, about the size of a guitar and held across the lap. The left hand fingers change the pitch by pressing wooden keys.
Scandinavian tunes: all melody instruments. We'll learn a couple of dance tunes from Norway and Sweden by ear, and talk a little about rhythm and harmonizing in Scandinavian fiddle music.  According to the interests of the group, the tunes can be from the gammaldans tradition (waltz, hambo, schottish, polka) or the rich, older polska/pols tradition.  
Québec tunes for melody players: We'll learn a couple of tunes from Québec by ear. According to the interests of the group, we can learn 32-bar reels or jigs you can use for contra dances, or Québec's quirky "crooked" tunes, which have unusual phrase lengths.
Québec style and ornamentation: all instruments. How to make tunes you already know from Québec (Growling and Grumbling, St. Anne's Reel, etc.) sound more québécois.  We'll cover swing, ornaments, foot-tapping, syncopation and bow bouncing.

Workshops my band members can lead

Stefhan Ohlström

Swedish fiddle tunes


Mandolin (Rick)
Bluegrass fiddle
Back-up guitar in contradance or Irish style (Tom)
Improvisation on fiddle, guitar, winds, voice (Dave)
Jazz theory and ear-training (Dave)
Contradance band workshop


Balkan rhythms (Gordon): We'll work on some unique and beautiful tunes from Bulgaria and Macedonia. You'll learn how to count asymmetrical rhythms, beginning with 7/8 and 11/8, and (time allowing) will tackle one in a combination rhythm (22/16 or 25/16). Don't let the numbers scare you, though -- it's easier than it sounds! All instruments are welcome. Handouts and sheet music will be available.
Breton call and response tradition (vocal and instrumental)
Intro to DADGAD guitar (Julia)
Guitar rhythms for accompaniment styles (Julia)

Paul Marchand

Québec/Celtic backup guitar: Discover why Paul Marchand is one of the most sought-after accompanists in Québec and beyond.  He'll show you interesting voicings and strum patterns in standard and drop-D tuning to accompany jigs, reels and/or waltzes from Ireland and Québec.  Some chord charts will be available.
Singing in French: open to all. Québec and France both have strong traditions of call-and-response singing.  To help out non-French speakers, Paul will bring along printed lyrics and we'll repeat after him. I will provide translations and weave my fiddling through the songs, which range from ridiculous to sublime.
Foot percussion: open to all. Paul will show you how to tap your feet in the lively québécois style to accompany fiddle tunes and songs, and show you how to use the wooden musical spoons and limber-jacks he makes.

Dance Workshops

We provide the music and can arrange for a dance instructor.

with Stefhan Ohlström (or solo)

for Swedish dancing
Hambo, waltz, schottis, snoa, polka
Swedish polskas of any kind

Solo for Norwegian dancing

Rørospols, Finnskog pols, Springleik, Telespringar/Telegangar, Hallingspringar, Vossarudl, Vestlandspringar (but not Valdresspringar at this point)

with the Contradictions

(or at a minimum with fiddle & guitar)
Easy dances for all ages and experience levels
More possibilities are listed here

with Alizé

Easy Breton dances: chain dances with simple footwork that date back to the middle ages

with Paul Marchand

Québec social dance (squares)
Québec step dance