Fiddle Camp – Start to Finish

We escaped to the Washington Old Time Fiddler camp in Moses Lake, Washington. I wasn’t sure we’d make it this year with Clairesse, our main family fiddler, up at Stonewater Ranch and Jeff’s hand, head and shoulder injuries. I came home from our family reunion longing for people to play with me without it being a performance based situation. I believe music is meant to be participatory rather than just observational. I also have seen the value of music in treating various injuries and have observed its value in playing with kids and families as well with Jeff’s mom, my parents and others at nursing facilities. I figured playing the mandolin for Jeff would help him exercise his left hand as he reached for the notes and runs and would help his brain have to work and help the Post Concussion issues. If nothing else, we’d have a good time in our classes and catching up with friends as well as dancing. Most of the old time tunes are dance tunes anyway.

We did stop and see Clairesse at Youth Dynamics Stonewater Ranch. We enjoyed dinner and catching up with her camp adventures as well as good hug.

We pulled into the Moses Lake Christian Academy parking lot greeting fiddle friends as we made our way to chose our camp site.

We moved into the shade the next morning as Moses Lake is known for hot summer days.

Sunday we saw everyone else starting to come in and set up for the week. The Washington Old Time Fiddlers Camp is one of the best deals around for music instruction for people of all ages. Adults and youth, as young as 4 years old, can take fiddle, mandolin guitar, banjo or string bass. There is even a music and movement class for little people and their parents to enjoy together. The price is kept down by the various district fundraisers for scholarships for kids to come. Free camping on the school grounds with showers next door at the athletic center make it a good place to sleep. The jam sessions lull everyone to sleep while there is always a fiddlers or two who starts jamming around 7:30 or so.

Almost my favorite thing is seeing the children and families coming in for the classes to start. It is fun to see the love of music bringing people of all ages together and overcoming the generational barriers for at least the week. Monday morning is the one day that everyone has to meet together to go over the plan for the week and meet all the teachers. This year Corrine Agnew asked for a show of hands for how many years people have been coming. There were a few that had been coming since the start.

I started my week in the Lower Intermediate Fiddle class while Jeff went into the Intermediate Mandolin class. Part of the choice was due to just registering on the Thursday before camp started. My class was a bit to easy for me so I switched to Roberta Pearce’s Intermediate Fiddle while Jeff finished the day in his mandolin class going over applied mandolin theory. The next day, he moved back to the Advanced Beginner class as he discovered with his Post Concussion Syndrome, he had difficulty with the runs and such. Time to review the basics and feel successful. It’s camp after all and camp is supposed to be fun. In my class, I was overwhelmed with the challenges of double stops, slides and slurs. But Roberta Pearce took the measures apart and made each section make sense. Plus in a class of 31 all playing at the same time, I felt like I sounded pretty good!

Lunch is al fresco while we listen to a serenade by a fellow student.

We signed up for a ukulele workshop that was a lot of fun! Jeff has experience because he played in junior high in Hawaii. Particularly appropriate is Jeff’s Hawaiian shirt for the class!

Two nights this week there were square and folk dancing with a few opportunities to waltz. Jeff and I took full advantage of this opportunity. Dancing to live music is the best! [wpvideo 4AlcsUFL ]Other opportunities for music this week include a band scramble in which participants put their name and instrument in a hat and then they are picked out and a band is created. The participants have about 20 minutes to decide on what they are going to play. Then there is a show. Another night “bands” made up of families or friends or whatever, play and the audience votes for the “best band” with one dollar bills. The last night of camp, the teachers give a concert to showcase their skills. This show is a hard one for us to sit still and listen. Several teachers took National at the Fiddle contest in Weezer, Idaho this year. The Clarinet polka was impossible to sit still for!

Friday we had one more day to review our tunes, say our goodbyes to our new and old friends and pack up our camp site to head home and practice in preparation for next years camp. A highlight of the morning was the beginning fiddle class who came in to show us how they could make animal noises with their fiddles. A delightful way to end the week.