It is that time! That time when we do a quick and informal Q&A with a guest musician. These are always fun, and our audience has come to expect them because we throw all manner of questions at them, and they always answer. Sometimes with the most fun facts and responses.
This Q&A with Stacey Sinclair, who will fiddle with us this weekend at ‘TIL THE SPIRIT MOVES, is no different.
WHY THE FIDDLE?
When I was two years old, I saw Ithzak Perlman on Sesame Street. From that point on, I began begging my parents for violin lessons. I always loved hearing fiddle tunes as well; my first violin teacher introduced me to a group called the Calgary Fiddlers, who I just loved! After studying classical violin through the Suzuki Method for many years, I actually put the violin aside for a while, mainly because I didn’t know anyone to play music with. About 7 years ago, I saw the guys in my bluegrass band, Split String Soup, performing bluegrass at a farmer’s market. I asked them why they didn’t have a fiddler, and their answer was, “Do you know somebody?” The rest is history! I joined the group, and they taught me all about bluegrass music. The connections I have made through the bluegrass community have brought me some great friendships and have kept me learning. Now, I can’t imagine not playing fiddle or violin!
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A FIDDLE AND A VIOLIN?
Well, as the old joke goes, a violin has strings and a fiddle has straaaangs. Really, the instruments are the same, and you can play classical violin on a fiddle and fiddle music on a violin.
IT SEEMS LIKE YOU’RE JUST MAKING IT UP! ARE YOU JUST MAKING IT UP?!
In my bands, we joke that if you have heard one fiddle tune, you have heard every fiddle tune, but of course if you love fiddle music that’s not true at all! I like to use the analogy of a frame for a picture. Every song has a basic chord structure and melody. That’s like the frame. Then, the fiddler will improvise within that framework to paint a musical picture. Fiddlers have the creative opportunity to make something up, but must adhere to the framework of chords, key, and melody in order for the song to sound good.
I don’t even remember. I was 7 years old when I started learning violin. We did annual recitals, so it was probably a song from Suzuki Book 1. I remember a lot more about my first performances as a bluegrass musician. I learned many of my first songs by watching Rich, the lead singer from Split String Soup, play them on the mandolin. Mandolins have the same notes and tuning as violins. I don’t know what the first song we played in public was, but I know I wanted to stand where I could see him playing, so I could copy his fingers if I got lost!
Not enough! I teach music lessons three nights a week, and even though I am teaching others, it allows me to focus on my technique as I model what to do. I also have band practice with a couple local bands, which takes up another evening or two each week. A lot of my practicing also comes from long car rides and traffic! Even though I am not literally playing my instrument, I will put a song I am learning on repeat and listen carefully, sing along, etc. Of course, if I have a performance coming up, I grab every extra minute I can to practice. A few minutes here and there throughout a day really add up over time.