Saturday, December 29, 2012

First line done! (update #2)


In these last few days of the year, you can help us finish this next line of Hop, Skip & Jump.  Thanks for all of the support thus far, and Happy New Year!!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Giving progress: first update

We're 13 notes (donations) into the A part of our tune: Hop, Skip & Jump!  Thanks so much to everyone who's given so far.   Our goal is to finish the first half of the tune (with note 36) by the last day of 2012.  If you know someone who might be interested in helping RI Fiddle Project, thanks in advance for helping us spread the word!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Parlez-vous Francais? (and more from Genticorum's concert)

We go to see different bands where there is usually a fiddler or the music is similar to what we learn.  These concerts have been great.  I especially enjoyed going to see Genticorum, a French-Canadian band.  The musicians were fantastic!  I loved the fiddler, Pascal.  He was extremely talented, playing the fiddle, tapping his feet, and singing at the same time!  It's fun to hear different styles of fiddle music, and to learn from these musicians. -Jessie, RIFP student, 12/10/12

"I can't wait to see my daughter playing like that!"-RIFP parent, 12/1/12

Here's some of what we got to see at Lily Pads' Genticorum concert last weekend - and we had the honor of sitting right up front (28 of us, students and parents alike!).

"Everything was great, and the most important part for me was I didn't know they spoke French.  I'm so happy that I came!" - Fiddle Project parent, 12/1/12

The band, realizing they were getting some responses to their initial French greetings to the audience, began bantering back and forth almost immediately from the stage with some of our students' Haitian family members.  It was a really a beautiful and surprising connection to see, and these families (students included) were able to understand even more of what was going on during the French songs.  Later on, these parents were the ones who helped lead two standing ovations for the band.  -Rachel

Thank you to David Floyd and everyone who made this memorable trip possible.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

November dance photos

Thanks to Bobbie Hunger for her photography!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Genticorum trip coming up

On Saturday, RI Fiddle Project students and parents will head down to Music at Lily Pads in Peace Dale, RI to see Genticorum!  What a treat that these guys are coming to Rhode Island and that we'll get to see them. 

We'd like to second the thank yous to the following businesses and organizations who have helped to support this concert and made it possible for our students and parents to attend!
Steve Beekman at Beekman Violins
Alternative Food Co-op 
South County Hospital
RI State Council on the Arts
More about the concert is here!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Checking out the cello...

Adrienne Taylor came to visit RI Fiddle Project's group class last week for a workshop with her cello.  Students took turns playing duets with the cello and Adrienne talked about how she figures out what to play for songs she's never heard before!  These are skills we're working on all the time.  The photos are from our final tune together.  
(Dance photos coming soon...)

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Today's the day!

Today's the day for our Community Dance  at Everett!  Come join us at our all-ages dance from 2-4pm.  All dances will be called by Sue Rosen. Our dance band includes all piano, cello, fiddles, percussion & didgeridoo! 

9 Duncan Ave, by Action Auto Parts, off North Main Street, Providence, RI.

Monday, October 29, 2012

My visit to Rhode Island Fiddle Project

Jessie Berne, a multi-instrumentalist and Sistema Fellow at New England Conservatory, spent some time with us this month getting to know RI Fiddle Project, and sharing her love of music and dance, as well.  Here she is joining in on guitar -- and here are her thoughts on her visits!

After spending several days at Woodlawn Community Center meeting all the members of Rhode Island Fiddle Project, the teachers, the kids, and a few of the center's staff, I am filled to the brim with enthusiasm and inspiration to enter this same field of work!

Since September, I have been attending New England Conservatory as a Sistema Fellow, part of a post graduate program that is designed to teach us (there are 10 of us total) the ins and outs of developing non-profit programs that provide free after school music education specifically in regions where it's lacking.

Because of my background in folk music, I was especially drawn to Rachel's program and eager to see first hand how she has been so successful in maintaining her members (with the intent of growing the program to include the 35 students already on the waiting list), and inspiring youth to love playing the fiddle.

My first day in Pawtucket, I met Fiddler-in-Residence and teacher, Michelle Kaminsky, and had the pleasure of sitting in on her lessons with the kids. This was a real treat. I got to see her encouraging the more experienced kids in helping the newer ones, and noticed they were already comfortable with peer teaching. This was evident throughout my entire time there, and is an approach to teaching that we all believe is incredibly valuable for building leadership skills.

Because that day was unique with another Fellow visiting from Community MusicWorks in Providence, we were able to spontaneously form a real jam circle where the kids had the chance to play a critical role in the band setting, complete with guitar accompaniment and two other lead fiddle parts. There were smiles and excitement going around as we threw a couple new upbeat tunes at them. After hearing a particular melody and rhythm, these two astute young girls picked out the part they wanted to learn, and in just a blink of an eye, they were playing along and not wanting to stop! What fun we had!

I then saw Rachel lead a group class where she taught the beginning of a fiddle tune. They all were focused and able to pick up the tune with ease. The more time I spent with the kids, the more I was impressed by the amount and variety of tunes they knew. They were learning classical, pop, old-time, and Cajun melodies, and were quick to learn new ones.

I quickly realized that because the teachers have such passion for sharing their love of music, and folk music specifically, the students are engaged, determined, excited, and always wanting to come back for more. The Fiddle Project provides a supportive environment with teachers who have a true love of the kids.

I felt a very warm welcome from everyone there, and that they are open to meeting new people, learning from them, and flexible in trying new things. I can't wait to come back and visit again, hopefully for the next big dance event!

Thank you to the Fiddle Project for having me as your guest and teaching me so much. We will see each other soon!

With love,

Jessie Rose Berne

NEC Sistema Fellow

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


"Inspired" was a word we heard a lot from students as we were getting ready to leave Common Fence Music after a fabulous concert by April Verch and her band. 

That, along with:
 "I liked everything! The dancing, the playing, the singing..."
"How does she remember all those things?"

We had a packed afternoon which started with a workshop with April, a walk down to the water at Common Fence Point, lots of group games, and concluding with the best seats in the house for her concert (front row on the floor!)

Thanks to April and her Band, to everyone at Common Fence who helped to make this happen, and to those who helped us get to Portsmouth and back again!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Didgeridoo Day

Registration day was filled with more than paperwork once again...this time it was a chance to hear how the didgeridoo and the fiddle could work together!
We got to see how Stuart's Australian didgeridoo worked...
And the PVC Pipe one he brought, too!
-Thanks to Stu W. for working with us, and to Stew S. for sharing some photos from the afternoon-

Monday, September 10, 2012

Today we begin

Today our 4th Year of RI Fiddle Project begins!

Last year's registration day was filled with harmonicas.  This year we'll be introduced to the didgeridoo in between filling out our contracts and forms.  Our guest, Stuart (not in this video), will be sharing with us how a didgeridoo can be created from PVC pipe, and we'll have a chance to try it this guy, perhaps? 

Friday, August 31, 2012

I'm pleased to announce:

Rhode Island State Council on the Arts is generously supporting RI Fiddle Project this year with a $5000 grant.  Through Woodlawn CDC, this grant will help the project continue to offer high-quality lessons and group classes with our Fiddlers-in-Residence as well as visits by great guest musicians.

RISCA also facilitated a RISCAfolk Gathering this year: gathering musicians, festival coordinators, venue managers, arts writers, and project managers in one place.  Here's to more gathering!

Funding provided in part by a grant from the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts, through an appropriation by the Rhode Island General Assembly, a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and private funders.

And that's not all!!  Rhode Island Fiddle Project will continue to receive generous funding this year from the Carter Fund at The Rhode Island Foundation.

And now that we are ready to roll for 2012-13, our goal this year is to meet and get to know more people like you so that we can continue our fiddling and leadership work with kids and community beyond this year!  Why do you think supporting this work is important?  And how can we best share what we're doing so that more people find out about it?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

This calls for some "foot stomping!"

Funding support: Great News, part 1 of 3!

We are pleased to announce that Rhode Island Fiddle Project is the recipient of a grant of more than $9,000 from the Jubilation Foundation Fund of the Tides Foundation towards our 2012-2013 season.

Here are some of the reasons why RI Fiddle Project is a great fit with the Jubilation Foundation's work.

The Jubilation Foundation values organizations committed to:
  • on-going skill building
  •  overcoming barriers related to race and class
  • building community
  • creating a ripple effect
  • creating foot stomping public performances in a party-like atmosphere
  • engendering flat out joy

Friday, August 10, 2012

Summer Camp's Day 1 Performance

For most of our performance, the audience at New Urban Farmers' "Garden of Life" in Pawtucket's Galego Court sat and listened.  

But for our final tune, they decided it was time dance along!   
The dancers helped bring the musical energy up right away.

Afterwards, Liz gave us a tour through the garden.  

Thanks to Bobbie Hunger for photographing the afternoon!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Views of June's Fiddling Celebration

Nya's whiteboard design for the Fiddling Celebration

Ashley plays the Tennessee Waltz

The proud crowd
Playing for the dance!

Photography by Bobbie Hunger

Friday, June 29, 2012

The big boat trip

We had 2 glorious days of summer camp.  Many video clips, photos and fun moments to share.  But first, as promised: photos of the big canoe!  

Taken by Captain Bob -- here we all are at the Pawtucket Boat Launch site on the Blackstone River.

We saw lots of wildlife on our short trip: ducklings, jumping fish, and a great blue heron Eating a fish!

After the successful voyage with some well-deserved frozen treats

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Summer Camp is here!

Tomorrow is the first day of RI Fiddle Project's Summer Camp.

Here are 4 reasons I'm really looking forward to it!

1. Dave Davignon will be leading a drum circle/bucket band experiment

2. Josh Rodriguez will be guest teaching along with Michelle and Rachel, working with students on improvisation and composition

3. We'll be giving informal performances in 2 settings that are new to us:

New Urban Farmers' "Garden of Life" at Galego Court, 483 Weeden St, Pawtucket
1:30-2 PM Wednesday, June 27th

and Leon Mathieu Senior Center, 420 Main St, Pawtucket
1-1:30 PM Thursday, June 28th

Feel free to stop by if you're in the neighborhood for either of these!

4. Two words: Giant Canoe.  We'll be sure to share photos after Thursday...

Many thanks to NEC's Entrepreneurial Musicianship Grants for their support of this camp.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

RI Fiddle Project Summer Fiddling Intensive

RI Fiddle Project will have a 2-Day Summer Fiddling Intensive for current students at the end of June (otherwise known as summer camp!).  We are very happy to have the support of one of New England Conservatory's Musical Entrepreneurship Grants to help fund this endeavor.

Our public Pawtucket performances (say that 3 times fast) are planned for the Leon Mathieu Senior Center and New Urban Farmers' Garden of Life at Galego Court.  More details to follow!

senior center

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Our return to Magnolia's Cajun Dance

On May 5th, RIFP students performed 3 fiddle tunes at Pawtucket's German Hall to start the night off at Magnolia's Cajun Dance.  We even had a back-up band on the stage behind us, triangle and all.

During Michelle's dance lesson for beginning dancers, students worked on their own set of moves!

Woodlawn CDC Community Meeting

The night before our Fiddling Celebration is a very important evening at Woodlawn CDC.

On Tuesday, June 5th at 6pm, the center hosts a Community Meeting with members of the Pawtucket city government.

Woodlawn is in danger of having to drastically reduce services in the coming year, and this is a chance for community members to speak up about the center's value to the neighborhood.

Woodlawn has been our community partner and home for three years of RI Fiddle Project and serves many crucial needs of the neighborhood.

210 West Ave, Pawtucket, All are welcome.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Join us June 6th!

Here we are in Payne Park, across from Woodlawn Community Center during a May group fiddle class.  
Spring time at RI Fiddle Project has brought some of our fiddling out of doors!
Students are also taking stock of their current fiddling repertoires: making lists of tunes they know and getting ready for year-end performances.

Please join us on Wednesday evening

June 6th at 6:30 PM

@ Woodlawn CDC (210 West Ave, Pawtucket)

for our year-end FIDDLING CELEBRATION!

(stay tuned for our E-news in the next couple of days)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Cape Verdean Music @ Woodlawn

On the last Sunday in March, RI Fiddle Project was visited by John Miranda's Cape Verdean band, made up of John and two of his brothers, Napoleon and Ney.   

We heard stories of how John Miranda came to play the fiddle (and how he ended up playing it on the opposite side of his body!), we heard performances of great, traditional Cape Verdean tunes, then we joined with the band to back them up.  

And we got to see some great dancing to go along with the music!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Performance at Magnolia Cajun Dance in Pawtucket tomorrow night!

RI Fiddle Project's blog has suffered as I've been finishing my spring semester of graduate work, but that doesn't mean the Fiddle Project has been any less active!  Over the next few weeks, we'll have some catch-up posts re: new supporters of our work, student and teacher performances, and recent visits by guest artists (including a Cape Verdean band!).

This week's post is about our upcoming performance at Magnolia's Cajun Dance tomorrow night.  After the dance lesson at 7:30pm, our students will perform four favorite fiddle tunes at 8 PM.  Come cheer the group on, then stay to dance!  Above is a photo from last year's dance when one of our students joined the band on triangle.

Saturday, May 5th
8 PM: RI Fiddle Project students perform
Cajun Dance follows from 8:15-11pm
@ the German Hall, 78 Carter Ave, Pawtucket, RI
$15 admission to the dance, free for RIFP families

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Playing with the Erhu

Cathy Clasper-Torch came to visit our group class yesterday to complete our "Things with Strings" trilogy.  Cathy studied the erhu while living in Hong Kong, and she brought 2 erhus with her to share with students.  After listening to the differences in sound and seeing differences in construction, each student got to play in an erhu ensemble with Cathy: adding a particular beat with one of the percussion instruments, or keeping everyone together as the conductor.
We also got to check out what music for the erhu looks like, and finished the day with a dress rehearsal for our Pawtucket Farmer's Market performance.  Next Wednesday (3/21) we'll be performing two tunes sometime between 6 & 7 pm at Hope Artiste Village (1005 Main St, Pawtucket, RI).

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

"Things with Strings" final installment tomorrow

On Wednesday, April 14th, RI Fiddle Project will be visited by Cathy Clasper-Torch and her erhu!  This will conclude our series which included a visit by a string quartet, a kemanche player, and now a player of the Chinese fiddle/violin.  Want to see it for yourself?  Contact for details, and stay tuned for what's next...Cape Verdean fiddler John Miranda and his band will be at RI Fiddle Project on Sunday, March 25th at 4 PM!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

An inspiring night at Common Fence Music

 Our students were invited to attend a performance of Martin Hayes & Dennis Cahill's at Common Fence Music on March 3rd.  It was a beautiful setting inside the Channing Memorial Church in Newport, RI.  It sounded to me (Rachel) like Martin Hayes was weaving with golden thread as he played the fiddle.
Thanks so much to Tom Perrotti and everyone at Common Fence for providing such wonderful music and a welcoming environment for young fiddlers !
 On the bus ride home, I asked students,

"How did they communicate? How did the guitarist and the fiddler know what to do at the same time?"

Here are some of the answers I got:
  • "They practiced a lot.  They remembered a lot."  -HC
  • "They waited for the moment - they started at the same time - they were paying attention." -SP
  • "They practiced and they practiced and they planned everything.  They said, 'if I do this, then you do that.'"  -AM
  • "Instead of counting off, they just looked at each other." -AC
  • "The guitarist was following - he kept looking up at him.  The guitarist was playing notes that could relate to the notes that the violinist was playing." -MB

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Dancing at Community MusicWorks

Here's a post from EmmaLee Holmes-Hicks at Community MusicWorks - direct from their blog, here.  Thanks to EmmaLee for inviting all of us at RI Fiddle Project to come and dance at this workshop a couple of weeks ago!

February 23, 2012

Promenade, around you go, one foot high and one foot low!

The string players of CMW and the fiddlers of the RI Fiddle Project came together on Friday, February 3 to join hands and kick up their heels in a traditional American barn dance. Outside the D’Abate School cafeteria, the imaginary snow was swirling and drifting and, underneath the virtual barn loft, the cattle were lowing and the horses were chomping down their nightly rations. But in the make-believe lantern light of the hayloft, spirits were high and the music of the Hickorynuts String Band was lively.


CMW students discovered that old-time dances were an important event in rural America. These get-togethers, with their circle mixers, reels and other “hoedowns,” helped form a bond between neighbors that was essential for survival in the old days.


Laughter rang as all ages came together in that traditional blend of music and dance. As Oriana commented afterwards, “We were getting lots of exercise, but it just felt like we were having fun.”


Two of CMW's Fiddle Lab students, Roma and Frankie of the now famous Red Wigglers String Band, joined us to play a set of three lively tunes. They discovered that the fiddler’s bow dances across the strings as fast as the dancers whirl and twirl.


I want to thank my parents, caller Jim Hicks and backup chorder Peggy Holmes, for joining me in bringing an old-time barn dance to CMW. I also tip my hat to Alan Bradbury for setting up his sound system and for joining in with his doghouse bass. It was fun to have Alan’s wife, fiddler Michelle Kaminsky, join me in the marathon final eight-tune set. My special praise extends to the CMW students who added the most important ingredient—their enthusiastic participation. Hee Haw!                                
-EmmaLee Holmes-Hicks, Fellow