Student reviews

Bluegrass Fiddle Class by John Boston

First the good news � the setting, weather, organisation & facilities were all perfect. The better news is that the music was great!

Tuition now caters for beginner to advanced, and offers inspiration to all. The now familiar format of lessons, dip-ins, sessions, one-to-one tuition, student and tutor concerts provide for an unpredictable emotional roller coaster ride of joy and frustration, achievement and punctured pride.

Stuart Duncan gave his class a tantalising whiff of pure "essence of fiddle", which taken close up and without electronic intervention can make you cry. As far as I can work out, Stuart is the living embodiment in fiddle terms of Sparky's Magic Piano � he woke up one morning and could play. (That's not true, but if you really want to play better, you can). Another fiddle hero of contrasting Old Timey style, Dave Bing, was there teaching Old Time Banjo, but we got to hear him, Stuart & Kate Lissaur playing together, driven along by Joe Mullins on bluegrass banjo. Fiddletastic!

Matt Flinner and Mark Schatz gave an incredible "dip-in" demonstration of how the mandolin and bass can work together to produce 3 in the morning jazz & blues. Rehearsal consisted of the following conversation:
Matt: "What shall we play?"
Mark: "Something nice."

Mark has a job to keep from doing rhythmic things all hours of the day and night, but channels it therapeutically into his bass and Old Time banjo playing. Take those away and he will just start tap dancing or slapping his thighs and various other parts of his anatomy in syncopated "hamboning". Who needs an instrument?

Big John Wirtz continues to hone his autocratic but benign management style, and still likes people to show their appreciation of the event by buying him lager. A man of simple wants and needs.

There was so much going on that I was knackered by day three, but buoyed by the music, company and general silliness in the bar, managed to stay the course without making too much of a fool of myself? See you all next year.

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