Fiddlers and guitarists interested in bluegrass, Celtic and Romanian Gypsy tunes should take out their string instruments. Beginning on Wednesday, the Davis Waldorf School will be hosting their guitar and fiddle workshop. All else that is needed is a tape recorder because the music will be taught solely by ear.
Following age-old tradition, the workshops will be taught without sheet music. Students listen to the instructors play a tune and will be challenged to mimic what they hear.
“It‘s kind of like storytelling,“ said Christina Gruhn, a teacher at the Davis Waldorf School. “The instructors play a couple of measures and you copy and learn it by ear. It‘s funnier and it’s been done for centuries.“
The three-day guitar and fiddle workshop is $150 and will culminate on Friday with a concert composed of teachers and students. Students are expected to have at least two years of experience with their instrument, and the workshops are broken down with beginning, intermediate and advanced classes available.
Gruhn and Angela Kost both work at the Davis Waldorf School and organized the event. The school was founded in 1986 and like other Waldorf schools around the world, emphasizes a teaching methodology that nurtures artistry and creativity in adolescent education.
The school offers several music classes in its curriculum. Gruhn and Kost decided to host the guitar and fiddle workshop because it parallels their string program at the school. In addition, they wanted to give Davis residents the opportunity to learn about these different genres of music.
“Romanian Gypsy music is not common in Davis,” Kost said. “We will have Fabrice [Martinez] teaching it.“
Kost said Martinez is the big draw and is currently on tour in Colorado with his band, the Fishtank Ensemble. The French native learned to play Romanian Gypsy tunes on the fiddle during his time traveling in Europe on a mule-driven caravan with the band Croque Mule.
Davis resident Florie Brown will be teaching Celtic tunes on her fiddle at the workshop. Describing Celtic tunes as “haunting sounds, but still beautiful uplifting melody,“ she has played in front of big crowds. She has toured in the United States, Europe, Scandinavia and the Caribbean playing in the Celtic band Golden Bough. She will follow tradition and get her students comfortable with learning Celtic music by ear.
“People have different ability,” Brown said. “I might show them three notes to get them comfortable. Fiddling has a lot of repetition, so they will have to know where to put the notes and then they can plug it into four or five different tunes.“
Andy Lentz, a graduate student at the Institute of Transportation Studies, will also take time off to teach at the workshop because he wanted to share his passion for bluegrass. A fiddler since the age of six, Lentz currently splits his time as a fiddler between the Mad Cow String Band and The West Nile Ramblers.
“Students my age or someone [who is] 50 can try because it’s learnable,“ Lentz said. “It is really cool to pass on my knowledge and what I know. I can get people interested and show them something that they might want to pursue.“
The Davis Waldorf School is located at 3100 Sycamore Lane. For more information, call 756-1716 or e-mail the school at firstname.lastname@example.org.
JACKSON YAN can be reached at email@example.com.