Ingrid Johnston (left)

Ingrid Johnston (left)

Family fiddle dance Saturday at the 150 Mile Fire Hall

Fiddle music has been building community across Canada since the first settlers arrived in the country.

Fiddle music has been building community across Canada since the first settlers arrived in the country.

And fiddle music is now doing its bit to build a greater sense of community in Williams Lake.

A fiddle workshop taking place in the lakecity this week with top Canadian fiddlers Gordon Stobbe from Halifax and J.J. Guy from Saskatoon will wrap up Saturday evening Sept. 15 with a community family dance at the 150 Mile House Fire Hall starting at 7 p.m. Admission is by donation.

Stobbe and Guy and lakecity violin/fiddle teacher Ingrid Johnston are instructing 34 students ages five to 18 in five days of workshop sessions this week designed to teach the students songs for a show about the history of fiddle music in Canada.

Many of the students who have learned the songs will join the instructors in performing at the dance that will include old time Canadian dances and music such as the Black Velvet Waltz, Heel Toe Polka, Schottisches, Fox Trots, and the Virginia Reel.

In efforts to raise awareness about fiddle music in Canada and give fiddle students a goal to strive for, Stobbe developed the Fiddle History of Canada show with input from other fiddlers such as Leslie-Jean MacMillan who leads the Smithers fiddle group that performed in Williams Lake this spring.

Stobbe says songs for the show trace the history of fiddle music in Canada starting in 1604/05 when the Acadians from France settled in Nova Scotia and created songs such as Evangeline which talks about their expulsion from Nova Scotia.

The show includes songs by Irish settlers in Newfoundland such as Sean Ryan’s Polka, Scottish settlers in Nova Scotia, Quebecois fiddle songs such as Reel de St. Antoine, Ottawa Valley/Ontario style songs such as the Old Red Barn and Chinese Breakdown, along with songs from the First Nations and Metis fiddle traditions such as chief Big Bear.

Songs with historical reference make up the first part of the show which the students are now learning.

The second half of the show, which may come later, traces the history of fiddle music since the early days of recordings by masters such as Don Messer, Rufus Guinchard, Emile Beloit and Graham Townsend.

The students are learning the songs all by ear, not by reading music, Stobbe says.

He says each song has parts for beginner, intermediate and advanced students.

In a fully developed show, there would be a narrator to talk about the history of each of the songs presented.

“In some ways the narrator is the star of the show,” Stobbe says.

As the show develops, Stobbe says there will be places for other musicians such as drummers, guitarists, and cello players. He says there should be at least two of the other musicians to spell each other off for performances.

While the local fiddlers may not have a narrator yet, Cariboo Chilcotin Youth Fiddle Society spokesperson Candice Magnowski says the songs the students learn will become part of future performances at community events held in the area.

Separate from their regular lessons, Magnowski says students participating in the program will work on the show songs once a month in their beginner, intermediate and advanced groups and once a month when all of the groups come together to practice.

Stobbe and Guy will also be back in the spring to help the students polish the songs for their show.

Magnowski says the club couldn’t have started the program without the help of numerous local sponsors including Thompson Rivers University, which is providing rehearsal space for the workshops free of charge.

Stobbe and Guy are travelling the country helping fiddlers in many communities develop their own shows. Next they are heading to Yellow Knife.

“The projects are all different. That’s the exciting part of it,” Guy says.

Stobbe says the program teaches students how to play together, how to focus, how to mentor younger players, and some of the history of Canada through its music.

In the end, Magnowski says the program is all about the kids and all about building community and activities families can do together.


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A dose of COVID-19 vaccine is prepared at a vaccination clinic in Montreal’s Olympic Stadium on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
39 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health region

The total number of cases in the region since the pandemic began is now at 7,334

Members of the Tl’etinqox First Nations are awaiting word of when they will receive their second dose. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
‘We need the second round’: Tl’etinqox Chief Joe Alphonse questions vaccine roll-out

It’s been 42 days since Tl’etinqox First Nation members received their first dose of Moderna

A drive-thru restaurant and beer and wine store is being proposed by Broadway Landco Management Ltd. for the former Chemo RV site at 1704 Broadway Ave. South. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Drive-thru restaurant, beer and wine store proposed for Williams Lake

Owners of property at 1704 Broadway Ave. South have applied for a zoning amendment

Avalanche Canada has issued a special avalanche warning for the Cariboo Mountains effective through the weekend. (Wes Gregg photo)
The city of Williams Lake has received provincial funding for a proposed boardwalk connecting the RC Cotton Trail to the River Valley Recreational Trail. (City of Williams Lake rough visualization of the proposal)
$550,000 provincial funding announced for Williams Lake boardwalk trail

The boardwalk will connect the new RC Cotton Trail to the river valley

Dr. Bonnie Henry leaves the podium after talking about the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
COVID: 589 new cases in B.C., and 7 new deaths

No new outbreaks being reported Feb. 26

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

Gina Adams as she works on her latest piece titled ‘Undying Love’. (Submitted photo)
‘Toothless’ the kitty inspires B.C. wood carver to break out the chainsaw

Inspired by plight of a toothless cat, Gina Adams offers proceeds from her artwork to help animals

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents bill to delay B.C.’s budget as late as April 30, and allow further spending before that, B.C. legislature, Dec. 8, 2020. (Hansard TV)
How big is B.C.’s COVID-19 deficit? We’ll find out April 20

More borrowing expected as pandemic enters second year

The first of 11 Dash 8 Q400 aircraft's have arrived in Abbotsford. Conair Group Inc. will soon transform them into firefighting airtankers. (Submitted)
Abbotsford’s Conair begins airtanker transformation

Aerial firefighting company creating Q400AT airtanker in advance of local forest fire season

The Canada Revenue Agency says there were 32 tax fraud convictions across the country between April 2019 and March 2020. (Pixabay)
Vancouver man sentenced to 29 months, fined $645K for tax evasion, forgery

Michael Sholz reportedly forged documents to support ineligible tax credits linked to homeownership

Then-Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson looks on as MLA Shirley Bond answers questions during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria. (Chad Hipolito / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
B.C. Liberal party to choose next leader in February 2022

Candidates have until Nov. 30 to declare whether they are running

After nearly 10 months of investigations, Mounties have made an arrest in the tripping of an elderly woman in Burnaby this past April. (RCMP handout)
VIDEO: Mounties charge suspect for tripping elderly woman near Metrotown in April

32-year-old Hayun Song is accused of causing bodily harm to an 84-year-old using her walker

Most Read