Tuesday, December 21, 2010

New violins from Hungry for Music Foundation

About a week before our December performances, a giant box arrived for RI Fiddle Project and inside were six of the violins we had previously had the most difficulty getting for our students: full-sized instruments! We are putting them to use right away: above you can see Ashley warming up for the performance on one of these instruments (on the fiddle in the middle).
Thank you, Hungry for Music!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Wow: Fiddling Celebration photos

I thought the Fiddling Celebration on Sunday was great, but looking back at these photos taken by Bobbie Hunger, I am just blown away at how many wonderful things happened all in one afternoon!  In the slide show you'll first see photos from our warm-up rehearsal, then the fiddle performances for our audience, then some dancing which included almost everyone in the room.  I hope you'll enjoy these as much as I did: click here for the Flickr slideshow.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Music making in Middletown, CT

The Community Music Initiative is going strong in Middletown, CT.  From Community Music Saturdays to Neighborhood Jams, Lessons, and Lunches, the program shares much in common with RI Fiddle Project.  In fact, Emily Troll (who is behind the Community Music Initiative along with many Middletown community volunteers), will be visiting for our Fiddling Celebration this Sunday.*

Check out the latest news update from CMI in Middletown, CT here:  Latest update

and see you on Sunday!
*December 12th, 3 PM, Woodlawn Community Center, 
210 West Ave, Pawtucket
Dancing and potluck to follow student fiddling performances!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Notes on the dance from Michelle

WoW! What a great way to start off my 'fiddler in residency' with the Rhode Island Fiddle Project!! 
Since I was in fourth grade, I've thought that fiddle tunes and barn-dancing were one of my favorite things in the world. 
As an adult, I've always wanted to have dances where my students and their families came together to dance to the tune they would be learning on the fiddle! It took Rachel's smile,  tons of work, and similar dreams to make it happen!

It made my heart sing to see so many of our students and their families out on the dance floor laughing and dancing to our music and the great calling of David Kaynor. It was the first time that I met and worked with David, and Max Newman our guitar player, and I know we all felt the magic of the day, and look forward to more get-togethers!

I want to thank all the people and organizations who helped to make this magical day happen:
Everett Dance Theatre/The Carriage House, Rhode Island State Council on the Arts (as we announced at the dance), Community MusicWorks, Alan for playing bass, Richie for taking photos, Alvarro for helping with snacks and the welcome table, the folks from the dance community who joined us, the families of our students for bringing their children, and for dancing!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Community Dance 11/7 Photos

Fiddling workshop with RI Fiddle Project students and David Kaynor

Our students join the band

Dancing!  70 people joined in the fun at the Carriage House for our Community Dance.

Monday, November 1, 2010

"We're not even going to call it dancing. We're going to get up and move."

Alex started things off right: showing Michelle some new dance steps while Rachel played a tune on the fiddle. 

Then we did a version of the broom dance: one year and twice as many students later!

It was great to get students together in October for an evening of dance and musical storytelling.  Now we're ready for the Family Dance coming up on Sunday Nov. 7th at the Carriage House at 3:30 PM!

Monday, October 18, 2010

E-news updates

In this month's e-news update, we've shared the news of our name change, website change, and additional Fiddler-in-Residence! If you haven't checked it out, here's a link to the e-news:


You can also sign up to receive these updates in the box to the right of the blog page.

Coming up tomorrow: the first gathering of all current RI Fiddle Project students, experienced and new alike. We'll come together to get to know each other and to dance!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Who’s supporting the project this fall?

Many thanks to our generous individual donors AND to these generous grantors:

Grey Fox
Grey Fox Educational Fund typically supports scholarships for young people studying bluegrass at a college or university, but when they accepted the proposal to support the RI Fiddle Project because they value passing down these traditions to the next generation of young people. The award was announced from the main stage of the Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival in July 2010.

Rhode Island State Council on the Arts
Rachel received an Individual Artist Grant for this Education Project, based at Woodlawn Community Development Corporation. "Through Project Grants for Individuals, RISCA supports highly creative and talented artists who seek to produce, perform, teach or share their work with the public." This fall the RI Fiddle Project is made possible in part by a grant from the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts, through an appropriation by the RI General Assembly and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Bristol County Savings Charitable Foundation

Provided funds specifically for the purchase of small audio recorders that can fit in students’ violin cases. These recorders can be used to record fiddle tunes at lessons as well as students’ practice at home. "The purpose of the Foundation is to fund needs that contribute to the economic and social well-being of the people and institutions located in the greater Attleboro/Taunton and greater New Bedford, Massachusetts area and the Pawtucket, Rhode Island area."

Country Dance & Song Society
Lent support from the New Leaders, Good Leaders Fund to help to kick-start the additional Fiddler-in-Residence role. One of CDSS' value statements is to "Promote the traditions, while providing an environment where they can continue to grow and evolve for the enjoyment of future generations" www.cdss.org

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

New year, new fiddler, and more news to come

Day 1, Year 2! Here we are dancing to the music of Ex Pirata, a fiddle & accordion duo (typically a trio with 2 fiddles) from Canada and France, respectively -- who we were very lucky to hear while they were both in the area!

This was also the day that fiddler & educator Michelle Kaminsky joined the project as our second Fiddler-in-Residence -- so exciting for all of us involved! More news soon about Michelle and about other excitement that's in the works. Stay tuned...

Sunday, August 29, 2010

I've "guest-posted" on my friend Carole Ann's Connect the Dots blog She asks great questions about being creative.

And if you're in Pawtucket today, be sure to stop by the Labor & Ethnic Heritage Festival at Slater Mill. The Whatnots go on at 2 PM.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Best of Rhode Island: Community Music Program

Yes, it's true! If you pick up a copy of RI Monthly magazine this month and open to the Best of RI Editor's Pick 2010 for Community Music Program, the winner is Fiddle & Dance Project!

Looking forward to thanking everyone who's helped us get started over the past year: dancers, students, Woodlawn CDC, Community MusicWorks, RISCA, Pawtucket community members, fellow musicians, and YOU for checking in here on this blog!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Block Party Today

Rachel will have a program table today at the Knowledge is Power block party starting at 2pm -- right across from Woodlawn CDC at Payne Park.

Friday, July 9, 2010

CMW Fiddle Lab plays for a dance

Here is a one minute glance at Providence Youth Arts Collaborative's (PYAC) Youth Arts Day, called Roots and Rituals, on May 22, 2010. In this clip you see the moment after Fiddle Lab students from Community MusicWorks taught and demonstrated the Seven Step dance, then joined the group on stage to play while the audience members danced along. Check out the key change halfway through!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

June Fiddling Celebration & Community Dance: photos (& what's not in them)

Top 3 things I'd like to show in pictures, but I've only got in memory:

1. students passing a block of rosin down the front row where they were sitting right before the performances began, making sure everyone had some on his/her bow

2. high school students leading younger students through our bow games, then, without being asked, leading those students in improvisation

3. students coaxing their parents, siblings, and friends into dancing "just one more dance"

Thursday, June 3, 2010

dances of all shapes and sizes

May was happily a busy dance month for me, starting out with a surprise gig at the Brown Spring Fling:

the next week I took part in the 2nd annual South County open band dance -- now just imagine this number of people also on stage in the band!

Then there was a visit to Little Rhody Vasa Park in Foster with the Cicadas. There we saw a couple who are contra dancing their way through all 50 states!

Monday, May 17, 2010

A trip to Rehoboth (or the Ox Dance, revisited)

Last night, we traveled to Rehoboth, MA, to dance and play with the Rehoboth Jammers. The jammers meet each week to play, and once a month the jam turns into a potluck & dance. We had the chance to dance in many formations and experience a different caller for almost every dance. After an hour of all this moving around, we took out the fiddles and played along with the jammers to Keith Murphy's Evergreen waltz. Thanks to everyone who helped us keep that steady beat! Here we are dancing to the Ox Dance.

Favorite parts of the night, from students and parents:
"the ox dance, because it was funny and goofy"
"the dance where we kept changing partners"
"at first I was getting my rights and lefts confused, but it got easier after a while"
"playing our violins with them"
"they were good people"
"they helped us sound a lot better"

Thursday, April 29, 2010


On Friday, 4/16, Fiddle & Dance Project families and I hopped on a bus to visit with Community MusicWorks and experience a CMW workshop led by Elixir (these guys in the photo, plus Peter Barnes!). Nils (with the trombone) called and led us through some introductory dances with HUGE circles of students, parents, siblings, and teachers. We had a chance to hear Elixir's unique contradance sound and play along with them on the tune, "Reverend Brothers".
Here is what students had to say on the bus ride home:
"I liked the music because it made me happy"
"I liked the style of dancing -- it makes you comfortable with anybody."
"The piano was awesome."
And many more students "liked the dancing"! Looking forward to some more dancing next month.
I forgot to charge my camera battery for this one, but hopefully I'll get some other photos linked up here soon.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Tunes on Main St

The whole vibe was wonderfully positive throughout the evening of our Fiddle & Dance Project benefit night at the Village Restaurant. And musically, it was magical with the Gnomes (minus one),

French Roast (with a Cajun twist),

and the Bourbon Boys. Cathy and Michelle even stepped in for a 3-fiddle version of Red Haired Boy!

Over 40 people came over the course of the evening to support the work, listen (and dance) to the tunes, and enjoy delicious plantains! Thank you to everyone who participated and helped make the night a success.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Thursday, March 11, 2010

6 new students

The past couple of weeks have been busy. 6 new students have joined Fiddle & Dance Project, from a 2nd grade student to a 10th grade student and everywhere in between.

There are big moments: the first time holding the violin, the first bow games, the first sound on the instrument... and at the same time, students who have been learning to fiddle since October are feeling what it's like to be the ones with lots of knowledge to share.

I've also been playing for more and more contra dances with the Cicadas and with the Whatnots! Here I am with the Cicadas, checking the sound at the dance in Hampton, CT last Saturday.

Monday, March 1, 2010

A Room full of Spoons

I happened to pass by the room where Mark Rust was teaching the Play the Spoons workshop at this year's Dance Flurry in Saratoga, NY and it was packed. This is from the end of the workshop. Props to all the new spoons-players! Just goes to show that everyone wants to play the spoons when given the chance...

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Playing for dances this winter & spring

As a fiddling fiddler-in-residence, I thought I'd post some contra dances I'll be playing for, starting This Saturday, February 27th! Hope to see you dancing...

With the Whatnots (Seth Gruenwald, cello; Carole Bestvater, fiddle...a contra dancing string trio!):

Sat, Feb 27th, 8 PM, Mystic, CT "The pie dance" - serving cherry pie at the break!
At Frohsinn Hall, aka the German Club, across from Mystic Seaport, $8

With the Cicadas (Bill Shevin, guitar; Ed Dale, bass; Jennifer Cooke, flute; Tim St. Jean, mandolin):

Sat, March 6th, 8 PM, Quiet Corner Contra Dance, Hampton, CT
Hampton Congregational Church, 263 Main St (on Rt 97), $10

Sat, March 20th, 8 PM, New Haven Country Dancers, Branford, CT
Branford Community Center, 46 Church St, $10

Sun., April 18th, 7 PM, Shindig at the Barn, Enfield, CT
Powder Mill Barn, 32 South Maple St, Hazardville (Enfield), $8

Sat., May 1st, 8 PM, Quiet Corner Contra Dance, Hampton, CT
Hampton Congregational Church, 263 Main St (on Rt 97), $10

Fri., May 21st, 7 PM, Foster, RI
Little Rhody Vasa Park, 10 Boswell Trail, Foster

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Fiddling at Le Foyer

Today was filled to the brim with great music! I began by sitting in with the Yams at their Wintertime Farmer's Market gig in Pawtucket's Hope Artiste Village. Stopped by McCarten Violins to pick up some recently set-up instruments for new students.

Then it was off to the big event of the day: Donna Hébert, Max Cohen & Daniel Boucher's workshop at Le Foyer, the French club in Pawtucket. Le Foyer invited all Fiddle & Dance Project participants as well as Fiddle Lab from Community MusicWorks to participate in a day of French music workshops and dancing.

It was thrilling for me to see and hear my students learning from Donna Hébert's fiddling (and joyful attitude towards music learning in general) And to play along with her and Max Cohen for some of the dances. Plus, a bunch of students had the chance to learn a favorite fiddle tune (La Marionette) directly from its composer, Daniel Boucher.

And to top it all off, we were visited by Rhode Island's Lt. Governor, Elizabeth Roberts as a part of her statewide Arts & Culture Tour, in opposition to cuts to Arts & Culture small businesses.

Bonne nuit!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Fiddle & Dance @ BPQ

BPQ is the Boston Public Quartet, founded and led by Betsy Hinkle. It's an awesome, like-minded program to Community MusicWorks. BPQ uses a Chamber Music Model to provide instrumental music programming as a part of the daily life of public school, creating community around this music. I ran an interactive fiddling & dance workshop on Saturday in Dorchester with the help of musical guests Max, Sophia & Dave. We all jammed on a fiddle tune, learned a new tune by ear, and danced together (and just as importantly, enjoyed pizza together!). I look forward to coming back in the future to share more tunes & dances. Hope to have photos follow!

Monday, February 1, 2010

And the winner is...

Congratulations to Ned Boyer, the winner of our December appeal letter raffle! He won a house concert in his living room, but due to the fact that he lives across the country, he is sharing his prize with friends in Exeter, Rhode Island.
He was one of 7 generous donors who gave $250 each to support Fiddle & Dance Project.

the Pawtucket Red Sox hat with raffle entries

"dancing fiddle guy" looks on (a new mascot for Fiddle & Dance Project, created by Linda Daniels)

Our first appeal letter was a great success overall, collecting $2680 (as of Feb. 1) to support the work of Fiddle & Dance Project during the 2009-2010 school year. Thank you to everyone who has given. It's incredibly humbling and exciting to know how many people already believe in this project.

Monday, January 25, 2010

tunes together

On our first week back of 2010, 5 Fiddle Lab students from Community MusicWorks (CMW) visited Pawtucket to play tunes and dance with 5 Fiddle & Dance Project students. They each shared their names and their favorite strings, then proceeded to play tunes for each other that each group had recently performed. We also found ways to play together by accompanying each other on open strings. And finally, we danced to the music of Kirby (CMW student leader) and Carole (CMW teacher/fellow).

Over at Community MusicWorks, we asked fiddlers (some who have been in Fiddle Lab 2-3 years & counting!) what they wanted to do this year in Fiddle Lab. Here were some of their answers:
"play a fast jig," "play a waltz," "dance." How awesome is that? I am so proud of fiddlers who can appreciate both slow & fast, both jigs & reels, both playing the music & doing the dancing, themselves!

Students at Fiddle & Dance Project (who are in their 4th month on their instruments) were just as enthusiastic in their hopes for 2010. We had some requests for "more complicated tunes" and lots for "more music!"

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Photo highlights from Fiddling Celebration

Here are some of the highlights from our December 19th Fiddling Celebration. A big thank you to photographer Bobbie Hunger for capturing these! You can see even more in the slideshow at our website: www.fiddleanddance.org/see--hear.html

Monday, January 4, 2010

more good news!

Fiddle & Dance Project will be receiving support from the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts this winter/spring through an Individual Artist Grant. This grant will be used to support some of our core programming of fiddle lessons and monthly music & dance events for families.

Also, RISCA-related, Rachel has been accepted to the state's Arts-in-Education Roster.

Coming up: This Thursday, Community MusicWorks Fiddle Lab will be taking a field trip to Woodlawn Community Center to have a Fiddle Jam session with Fiddle & Dance Project fiddlers.