Fiddle Classes at Cascadia

Please read the following carefully before registering. If you have questions about these classes or how to place yourself, email Randal Bays.

Fiddlers, let me be frank... there are a lot of us! :-)  While I'm very happy about that, our sheer numbers require some special attention so everyone can get the most possible out of the Cascadia experience. We've always made it our policy to keep class sizes small and we try to limit the classes to about 20 people. When you examine this year's schedule you'll notice that most of the fiddle classes are in Sessions 1 and 2. In fact we are rich in fiddle teachers this year and each of those sessions will offer three fiddle classes, so we should be able to accommodate everyone up to around 60 fiddlers.

My hope is that you'll decide what your level is and register for classes with different teachers in each session. Getting multiple perspectives on something you're learning is a wonderful way to deepen your understanding, and having several fiddle teachers at Cascadia is invaluable if you're serious about Irish fiddle music.

By the way, you may also notice that in Session 3 there are no fiddle classes. When we changed from three to four sessions per day, the hope was that people would leave one session open for practicing, playing tunes with friends, walking, etc. But we recognize that some of you will want some class activity during that session, so this year we're planning a variety of "Special Classes" during Session 3. Those will be announced at camp and you don't need to register for them ahead of time. Some of the ideas for those classes include "Fiddle Maintenance and Adjustment", "The Biomechanics of Fiddling", etc.

None of the classes in Sessions 1 and 2 are meant for beginning players. Although we honor and welcome those just starting, we hope you'll take advantage of our excellent "Intro" classes in Session 4. The classes in Sessions 1 and 2 are labeled "Advanced", "Intermediate", or "Intermediate/Advanced", and we expect students to try and put themselves in the right levels so we've offered some guidance below.

Advanced - The actual content of the advanced classes is left up to the individual instructor, but you can expect to learn some good tunes, get into the bowing and ornamentation of various kinds of dance tunes, etc. Remember that in the advanced classes you'll be expected to play on your own in front of the class and work on a tune with the instructor. If you're uneasy about that you will do well to go for the intermediate classes instead.

Intermediate - Similar to the advanced classes, but you won't have to worry about playing in front of the class. Also the pace of the tune learning as well as the tempos of the tunes themselves will be slower.

Introductory - If you're new to the instrument and want to get a good start with an excellent teacher, here is your golden opportunity. The class will also be a good choice if you already play the instrument a bit but want to learn about Irish traditional music.

Fiddle Technique - Cascadia founder and Artistic Director Randal Bays will be teaching one class daily called "Fiddle Technique". This is open to all intermediate to advanced fiddlers and will focus on the nuts and bolts of playing Irish fiddle music... bowing, fingering, ornaments, etc., and especially how to play the reels up to speed with good style.

Guidelines for placement in fiddle classes

Advanced - You should be able to play an Irish reel solo, at a good clip (at least 92 on the metronome), also a jig and a hornpipe, without pauses or stumbling and with good ornamentation. As this is the advanced class you should be comfortable playing in front of the class, master class style.

Intermediate - You should have mastered beginning skills, be able to tune your instrument to play with others, keep steady time, play the principal scales (D, G and A major) cleanly, and know how to play a few tunes with confidence.

Introductory - This class is for students who seek an introduction to the instrument and/or to Irish music played on the fiddle. You'll learn how to hold the fiddle and bow, how to finger the notes in the left hand and play in tune, etc. 

Fiddle Teachers at Cascadia

Randal Bays 
Fiddle Technique (Intermediate/Advanced)

Antoin MacGabhann
Advanced Fiddle
Intermediate Fiddle

Nathan Gourley
Advanced Fiddle
Intermediate Fiddle

Eimear Coughlan
Intermediate/Advanced Fiddle