Saturday, August 18, 2007

Friday at Fiddle Camp

In Friday’s Beginning Fiddling class, we went over all four parts of “High Road to Linton.” It, like the other beginning fiddling tunes, is in A major. I’m still having trouble reliably fingering the high G sharps, but this tune is coming together. Each of the four parts is pretty easy; it is just a matter of remembering them all, and the order in which they go, as we learned them out of order. The whole tune is on the A string for the cello. I ought to try playing it an octave lower, just to move around the strings a little. But then it would start on a low C sharp, E, A, probably creating more problems than it would solve.

Getting the notes is only the first step of course. There are slurs and accents that must be played for the piece to sound good and authentically Scottish. Correct bowing is crucial. Then you have to bring it up to speed, in order to play with others. I’ll try to continue to work on this when I get home. The Scottish tune book that I donated to the auction has “High Road to Linton,” so I know where to fine the notes if I need them. Most of the non-copyrighted tunes will be on the camp website shortly, too, so you, dear reader, may play them too.

In Friday’s first cello class, we learned “Sister Jean” and an interesting (and easy) countermelody to it, as well as a somewhat complicated bass line, which I did not pay too much attention to, figuring I would just stick with the countermelody for our performance tonight. We’re also going to play “Kinrara” so we went over that again. I’ll take a bass line on this one, as I cannot play the melody fast enough. I can play it almost up-to-speed, or up-to-speed with a couple of hesitations, though. A hesitation or two, and it is hard to keep up! I’m not as clear on the bass line as I should be, but am getting most of it.

At lunchtime, I grabbed a plate of salad and some uncharacteristically delicious tofu and vegetable concoction left over from last night’s feast, and headed for my room. I wrote down the “Sister Jean” countermelody so I wouldn’t forget it, and played it over and over again.

We reviewed the tune again in the afternoon cello class, along with all the other tunes of the week. I didn’t play anything perfectly, except maybe the countermelody once or twice and the waltz, but am feeling good about what I did remember and could play.

Abby taught an elective class right after the cello class: Baroque Scottish chamber music composed by James Oswald. She and Anne Hooper demonstrated a few violin/cello duets. Outstanding! I was a little worried about playing the pieces because they sounded complicated, but, when the music was passed out to violinists (for the moment, they were no longer fiddlers) and cellists, I found it easy to keep up, and felt so fluid, just being able to read the music! Ok, I got lost once or twice. It was so much fun being able to play along with Abby. Most of the tunes we played are on Abby’s CDs, and will be in her next sheet music book. Highly recommended! What a delightful way to end our classes here.

Friday night was the Ceilidh, which included performances by some very talented campers, as well as skits and nonsense. I was in a skit involving the Ministry of Magic (cellists, pianists, and guitar players formed the Ministry) giving out points to the various houses. The Beginning Fiddling class did a little skit involving warm-up exercises in which the fiddlers, while playing our waltz, dropped to their knees, and then to the floor where they lay on their backs, continuing to play. I let my endpin slide in and knelt, then sat on the floor, but could not, would not lie on my back. The other cellist did. Finally, the cellists performed our two tunes, “Sister Jean” and Kinrara. All went well, and I enjoyed doing it. Then, as on the first night, there was much playing of commonly known tunes, led by various instructors. I still knew only a couple of tunes, so I played backup, a touch more intelligently than last week.

We leave on the 10 am boat on Saturday (today), and we’ll be back in the real world where people go to work and carve out only a small portion of the day for cello playing. I’ve learned a lot about learning by ear and playing accompaniment. I have met lots of great people. It’s been a wonderful experience, but I am looking forward to getting home, too, and seeing family and friends. And sleeping in my own bed!


Carolyn said...

What a great blog! While we were at camp I didn't even realize that you were doing it. Then I came home and did a Google search for Lovely Stornoway, and just about the first thing that came up was your blog. What a nice thing to find pictures already on the Web, along with your lively account of life at camp. It put me right back in the moment and made me feel as though we hadn't left yet. Hope you had a good trip home, and please do come back next year!

-- Carolyn

P.S. I'm sorry we didn't get to know each other very well -- I'm Jane's roommate.

Maricello said...

Hi Carolyn, Thanks for the nice comment! It's interesting how public blogging can be. :-)

Cape-bound traffic wasn't too heavy this afternoon and the weather was so beautiful, so we (I carpooled with Linda) made it home by 1:30 or 2 pm.

I do hope to come back next year if there is a cello teacher there. Abby was so wonderful.

Maricello said...

P.S. I fixed the spelling of Lovely Stornoway, and now my blog does not appear at the top of the search results. Oh well, better it be accurate! :-)