Wednesday, December 21, 2011

MusiConnects dance clip

Here's a clip of MusiConnects' first ever "Family Fiddle Food Fest" in Boston: Rachel was playing with the awesome calling of Susan Reed and great dancing by lots of violin, viola and cello fiddlers and their families and teachers!

Family Fiddle Food Fest 2011 from musiConnects on Vimeo.

Photos from our December fiddling celebration

Friday, December 16, 2011

Things with Strings

Early next week, some photos should be appearing here from our December Fiddling Celebration...
in the meantime, here's a preview of our Things with Strings series, where our fiddlers (and guests) interact with players of other bowed stringed instruments.  These will include the viola, cello, kemanche & erhu!

On Wednesday, January 4th, we'll be visited by our first guest musicians in this series: the Nelson String Quartet.  The members of the quartet are all current college students and are graduates of Community MusicWorks in Providence.  We'll get a taste of both the Classical playing and fiddling of the quartet members.  If you would like to attend this event, email for details.

Monday, November 28, 2011

New tricks from our workshop

David Kaynor teaches us new ways to play our tune!  This is from last weekend's workshop "on the map" in the Visitors' Center.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Shortnin' Bread/Mizoudio

Everyone is singing and playing this tune at their lessons: preparing to play it on Sunday for our visiting caller.  It's Shortnin' Bread, which is the tune to play for a dance called Mizoudio that we all danced to last year, and probably will dance to again.  
You don't want to miss the last 3 seconds of this clip!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Community Dance: right in the center of Pawtucket!

Please join us here on Sunday, November 20th at 2pm!
RI Fiddle Project's fall Community Dance will be in a new location this year: we'll be dancing on the giant map of the area on the floor of the Blackstone Valley Visitor Center.  With the tunes of French Roast and the calling of guest fiddler and caller David Kaynor, this is a unique afternoon for foot-tappers of all ages.  The Visitor Center is located at 175 Main Street right in downtown Pawtucket - with plenty of parking and the hub to many bus lines. 
We hope you'll join us!

Community Dance
175 Main St, Pawtucket
Sunday, November 20th
2-4 PM


Wednesday, October 12, 2011


Enthusiasm and warmth filled the space at our 'Welcome Back' dance!  We spent lots of time dancing, a little bit of time eating, and also got a chance to interact with some of the dance instruments up close.  Lots of fiddle students held the guitar, cello or bass for the first time, and we all got to check out Dave's drumming box and dance to that beat. 

Thanks to Christine Stewart and Jennifer Spofford for taking these photos!


Monday, September 26, 2011

'Welcome Back' dance to ring in year three

Join the RI Fiddle Project as we start our third year out right: 
it's a Community Dance 
at Woodlawn CDC (210 West Ave, Pawtucket) 
at 2:30 PM on Sunday, October 2nd.  
The full band will include Fiddlers-in-Residence Michelle and Rachel, along with special guests Mike Fischman, Alan Bradbury, and Dave Davignon.  (that's fiddle, guitar, bass, and drums!)
Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A Harmonica-Filled Registration

Special thanks to Ned Boyer for ensuring our 2011 RI Fiddle Project registration day was harmonica-filled!  Every student (and some siblings and friends) got to go home with a new harmonica, new inspiration, and some handy instructions on how to get started exploring this new instrument.   It was a really nice treat on the first day back! 

(photo from

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Today at L'il Rhody Rib Fest

Lots of good fiddling at the L'il Rhody Rib Fest today at Slater Mill.  Michelle performs with Magnolia Cajun Band from 1-2PM, and RI Fiddle Project will be at the "Fiddling Zone" from 2:15-3:15PM, where you can hold and try a fiddle.  All this is part of the giant Pawtucket Arts Festival happening throughout September.  More details are here.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Grant Support for RIFP: Parts 2 & 3

We are pleased to share that RI Fiddle Project will have the support of the Sparkplug Foundation and the Carter Family Charitable Trust in our 2011-2012 year. 

The Sparkplug Foundation will be "sparking" support for the administrative work of the program for the first time.  The foundation supports start-up organizations and new projects of established groups in the areas of music, education and community organizing.

The Carter Family Charitable Trust, in its focus on cultural and educational needs for children, will be supporting the work of Fiddler-in-Residence at the RI Fiddle Project.  We are very grateful for the support!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Fiddle and Neighborhood happenings in August

1.   Everyone's talking about the Fiddle n' Folk Fest on Friday, August 13th! 
We aren't able to represent RIFP there this year, but hopefully it's a great success and it'll all happen again soon! It's in Haines Park in Barrington from 3-7PM.

2.  The Nonviolence Awareness Block Party at Payne Park (right across the street from Woodlawn CDC!) is Sunday, August 28th from 2-8PM.  It's the place to be that day, with entertainment and great community resources.  We had a table last year there and hope to be a part of the festivities again in the future. 

3.  And finally, I've been asked to spread the word about Rustic Roots camp, just over the border in CT.  Workshops by fabulous Rhode Island (and other) musicians, in a very rustic setting. 

Monday, August 1, 2011

Grant Support for RIFP: Part 1

It's been too long!  But rest assured: lots of thinking, planning, fundraising and music-playing is going on to get ready for the fall at the RI Fiddle Project.  Here is the first part in a series reporting on some of the support the project has recently received:

Woodlawn CDC has been named the recipient of a $3000 project grant in education to support the work of the RI Fiddle Project from the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts, through an appropriation by the Rhode Island General Assembly and a grant from the National Endowment for the Art.  This is the 3rd time the RI Fiddle Project has benefited from the support of RISCA and we are so grateful for RISCA's commitment to long-term education programs in the arts. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Twist on a "house concert"...

It's a Farm Concert to benefit RI Fiddle Project
with Michelle Kaminsky, Rachel Panitch, Alan Bradbury and Mark Wholley.
Sunday, June 26th
3 PM
Tiverton, RI
Email for details & directions.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Photos from our year-end Fiddling Celebration

It was great to see how far everyone has come since December: in being comfortable on the instrument, in enjoying the performance process, in yelling "hey!" extra loudly while dancing...what a wonderfully celebratory celebration!

Monday, June 6, 2011

A glimpse of the Portland Megaband in Seattle

There are more than 70 members of the all-volunteer Portland Megaband.   Here they are playing for a contradance at the Northwest Folklife Festival in Seattle a couple of weeks ago.  You don't get to see a band like this everyday!

This is just one of many many types of music at this festival - the festival is "folk" in its broadest, widest, most culturally-diverse sense.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

What a violin is made of...

At our Tuesday night class, we got to see some spruce and maple wood and many of the pieces and tools that go into the violin-making process.  Fiddler-in-residence Michelle Kaminsky is also a luthier and shared with us what and how you study at violin-making school!

More photos from our visit with Jay and Molly

Fiddler-in-residence CD complete

You can check it out and hear clips here.


Monday, May 16, 2011

Jay Ungar and Molly Mason at the Rhode Island Fiddle Project

A day after performing at the RI Folk Festival, Jay Ungar and Molly Mason led a two hour workshop yesterday for students of the RI Fiddle Project!  They performed tunes of many styles, talked about their experiences playing for more than one President of the United States, and taught Duke Ellington's C Jam Blues (in G).  Here's a clip of what we learned in an impromptu performance for parents.  It was an exciting and memorable afternoon for all involved!  Many thanks to Jay and Molly for their visit.    More photos to follow...

Friday, May 6, 2011

She Shines article

While it feels funny to post publicity about myself, this article is very much about the RI Fiddle Project.  You can see all of the She Shines articles by RI Foundation mentees and RI women holding office by downloading the most recent issue here.   The questions we were asked to write about were: "what is your concept of leadership? how are you enacting your power in the world?"
My favorite part was posing with the "Welcome to Pawtucket" sign in 30 degree weather in short sleeves with the violin (my idea)!  People driving by were wondering what was going on...

Friday, April 29, 2011

Yoga Fiddling Experience

Nearly 30 people set up yoga mats Saturday night and experienced a beautiful class complete with the mellow sounds of 4 xylophones and 2 fiddles!  We played almost continually for the full hour, moving from one instrument combination to the next and one improvisation to the next...from what we heard, it was a new and positive experience for all participants.  Afterwards, attendees sat on their mats on the floor while we played a brief fiddling concert.  Kate Hawley, who led the yoga class, described our collaboration beautifully, emphasizing the intention of strengthening community that both Shri Studio and the RI Fiddle Project share. 
*photos coming soon -- next week I hope!*

What else has been happening...students have been dancing and learning new tunes in preparation for our June 7th fiddling celebration.  We're all getting psyched about a visit to the program by Jay Ungar and Molly Mason on May 15th.  And as for me (Rachel), I played a thrilling contra dance in Concord, MA, last night!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Join us for a "Yoga | Fiddle Project" event this Saturday

This exciting experiment is 2 days away!
6-7pm live music with your beginner/gentle yoga class.
7-8pm concert with Michelle and Rachel
(followed by snacks!)  
@Shri Studio, 21 Broad St, Pawtucket, RI
Here's more info:
Event on facebook
Event on Shri Studio's website

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Blogging again: our performance at Magnolia's Cajun Dance

It's been a little while since the last blog entry, but we're back with the intention of a once-a-week blogging schedule! Here are some photos from Pawtucket's German Hall, where RI Fiddle Project students danced and performed two fiddle tunes on Saturday night, April 2nd.  It was a night that was filled with more smiling and laughing by students than I had ever seen before at one of our events!

Students started by participating, along with all the adults who were there, in a basic Cajun dance lesson taught by Michelle.  Then we got our fiddles and performed "Quo Faire" and "Hop, Skip & Jump", accompanied by Martin on the electric guitar.  We got a great response, and then, everyone started dancing again (students included)! 

Later on in the evening, two of our students were invited to join in with the band on the triangle!  They each did a stellar job and got an instant fan club cheering them on!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

More from the Carolina Chocolate Drops concert

The performers signing posters at our visit

Students and parents spending time with the band
In the audience
Photos by Pam Murray

Friday, March 25, 2011

Our visit with the Carolina Chocolate Drops!

Carolina Chocolate Drops performing - the view from where we were
 Last Thursday night, Bryant University invited RI Fiddle Project students and Fiddle Lab students from Community MusicWorks to come see a performance of the grammy-award-winning Carolina Chocolate Drops.  The university didn't stop there...they set up a pre-concert Q&A session for our students with "The Drops", a walk back-stage, and reserved seats right up front!  Many thanks to the gracious performers for answering our questions and to Tracie, Carol and the whole Public Relations office at Bryant.  

Lilyanna, Ashley & Maria with "The Drops"! Photo: Pamela Murray
Here were some of our students' favorite parts of the night:
  • I liked when we met them - they were funny.
  • When they played Snowden's Jig
  • The kazoo -- I want to learn to do that!
  • I especially liked when Rhiannon was singing Irish [mouth music] and Adam was beat-boxing.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Mardi Gras masks, fiddling, dance & cupcakes

Mardi Gras at RI Fiddle Project was a small but spirited celebration, complete with handmade masks, sparkly decorations, and cupcakes with bright purple, green & gold frosting.
 Michelle's Magnolia band members Martin Grosswendt, Alan Bradbury performed for and with Fiddle Project students.  Then we danced some two-steps and waltzes, along with some improvisatory 'freeze dance', too!   

On April 2nd, we'll visit and perform at one of Magnolia's dances.  
And tonight, it's the trip we've all been waiting for: we're taking a bus to Bryant University to hear the Carolina Chocolate Drops!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

what if Culture Stops?

What if fiddling, community dance, sharing tunes, performance,  jamming, improvisation, and musical traditions STOPPED?

What is "Culture Stops"? (see much more at this link to the site!)

On Thursday, March 10th, 2011, Culture Stops! will ask you to imagine a world where writers put down their pens and artists put down their paints. Where architects stop designing our cities and poets, dancers and sculptors stop teaching our children. Where our national landmarks fall into decay. Where debate is no longer fostered in our universities, or on our radio dials. Where our symphony halls fall silent and our libraries go dark. Where our collective history is left unmade and unwritten.

'artsmarts': why cutting arts funding is not a good idea (article)

Monday, February 28, 2011

Visit to Learning Community Charter School in Central Falls

Michelle and Rachel got to play for the first "Chew & Swallow LIVE" at the Learning Community Charter School (that's the time during lunch when students typically stop talking, listen to recorded music, and eat their food! this time it was a little different...)

Monday, February 21, 2011

house concert video clip

Fiddle Project is on

You can sigh, you can cheer,
but in either case, if You're also on Facebook,
you can be one of the first to like the RI Fiddle Project here. 

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


In 2010, RI Fiddle Project programming was made possible in part by a grant from the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts, through an appropriation by the Rhode Island General Assembly and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.  Now there are serious challenges to future NEA funding.  Below there's a link where you can send an automated or personalized email to your elected representative about this.
02/15/11 Amendments Introduced to Reduce/Eliminate NEA Funding
Two amendments have been introduced relating to the funding bill for FY 2011 currently being debated on the House floor that would further cut/eliminate funding for the National Endowment for the Arts.  The first amendment offered by Rep. Garrett (R-NJ) would zero out funding for the NEA completely;  the second amendment of concern is offered by Rep. Walberg (R-MI) and would reduce funding for the NEA by a further $20.5 million. Write your Representative and tell him/her to vote against these amendments. 
Click here to respond to this Arts Action Alert   (through Americans for the Arts)

Monday, January 31, 2011

Wheel fiddles (hurdy-gurdy / vielle a roue) at the Fiddle Project

 Our group class was visited by composer/musician/hurdy-gurdy designer Steve Jobe last Tuesday -- we got a taste of the sound of the hurdy-gurdy and the ways in which it's similar to our fiddles. 
 Steve showed us "the shrieker" -- the newest mini-hurdy-gurdy which will be debuted en mass in the next performance of his opera, The Legend of the Fairy Melusine.  Everyone (who was brave enough) got a chance to try it.
And we finished with our favorite Drone Game from here -- perfectly for playing with an instrument that has its own drone strings!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


  • Last Tuesday (our 2nd week of Fiddle Group Class for all our students!), we learned the word "hurdy-gurdy"  -- everyone is super excited for Steve Jobe's visit later today to the class.  More on that after it happens!

  • Michelle, Alan Bradbury and I performed the other night at Common Fence Music's 12th annual Gathering of Fiddlers & Fishermen.  We also got to play a tune with the host/organizer/master-mind behind the event, Tom Perrotti. Thanks for the invitation to take part and to share a little about RI Fiddle Project with the wonderful, friendly audience.

  • And we didn't stop there!  On Sunday afternoon, Michelle, Alan, Mark Wholley and I played and sang a great set of some of our favorite tunes (including Cajun, French Canadian, Old time) at a loft concert to benefit the project.  We also talked a little and snacked a little and hope to do it all again before too long. 

Friday, January 21, 2011

Fiddler-in-Residence dances part 1

You can dance to tunes played by Rachel tonight at
St Stephen's Church at the Brown University Contra Dance, 7:30-10:30.
114 Brown St, Providence, $8.  It is on (despite some snow earlier today)!
More music:
February 12th, Stamford Contra Dance, CT
March 5th, Contra dance, East Hanover, NJ
March 26th, Bourbon Boys, Stone Church Coffeehouse, Bristol, RI
April 3rd, Mostly Waltz RI, JCC, Providence
April 8th, Contra dance, Albany, NY
April 16th, evening Contra dance at NEFFA with "Pizzazz"
April 28th, Contra dance, Scout house, Concorde, NH

Monday, January 10, 2011

Starting back up

We start classes and lessons tomorrow, but already it's been a busy start to the year:  on Monday, Jan 3rd, three RI Fiddle Project students joined Rachel and Cathy Clasper-Torch to play at the post-inauguration celebration for Mayor Grebien at the Pawtucket Armory.  Certainly the biggest room and biggest audience yet, and it was a real honor to be a part of such an exciting Pawtucket moment. 
(I've been looking all week for photos of the evening, so if anyone can point me in the right direction, let me know!)

The next night, I led a workshop in Willimantic, CT with the Quiet Corner Fiddlers (see photo).  A really welcoming group to chat with and play with - we spent time with Taggert's Reel #3, Bill Monroe's Scotland & jig accompanying. 

Monday, January 3, 2011


Fun-A-Day has begun in cities all around the country, including Providence (see link above).  Rachel is participating by writing a "Tune-a-Day".  So far so good: 3 days, 3 tunes and really looking forward to seeing what comes out of a whole month of tune-writing.  It puts me in a great state of mind -- always on the look-out for a good tune inspiration.