Running alongside our very successful Junior Workshop we had an adult session in Strachur Memorial Hall. Tutor Finlay Allison from the Glasgow Fiddle Workshop took the group of ten fiddlers and worked on three tunes during the course of the day, teaching in the traditional aural style, where the tunes are learned by ear and built up phrase by phrase to try to get them into the memory of the players.
Beginning with an old Gaelic favourite, “The Eriskay Love Lilt”, Finlay taught this in the unusual key of C, enabling the lower registers of the fiddle to be used and taking the players away from the more usual open keys we tend to play in! He also gave advice on using vibrato to enhance the sound of the longer notes.
We moved on to a Strathspey next (‘Sann an Ile) and got to grips with the Scotch Snap, that note combination of semiquaver followed by dotted quaver which is the hallmark of the Strathspey and peculiar to this particular musical form. Only Scottish music has the Strathspey! Finlay took some time to teach the snap and all participants met with a fair degree of success in adding this to their armouries of techniques.
The third tune was the retreat pipe march “I See Mull”. Here Finlay stressed the feel of a good pipe march, to get drive into the tune. We then worked on combining the three tunes into a set, giving tunes in three different keys and in three different tempos, and learning how to combine the tunes seamlessly.
At the end of the afternoon the adults joined the juniors, who had been working on the same tunes, and an impromptu concert was performed for the parents of all the junior participants. A great day was had by all, and we look forward to many more like this.