It’s taken me two-and-a-half months, but I finally found a dyed-in-the-wool Old Time Fiddle Teacher!
Her name is Betty Druckenmiller. Betty began playing fiddle as a direct result of hearing J.P. Fraley play “Margaret’s Waltz” on the Augusta stage one summer evening. In following years, she worked with Dave Bing, Bill Hicks, James Bryan and Mike Bryant. Luckily enough, she also spent two master class weeks with West Virginia fiddler Wilson Douglas before his passing in 1999. Betty has especially enjoyed learning unusual older tunes and those with great stories which may or may not be true. She enjoys playing for farmers’ markets and dances, as well as songs from the Carter Family.
Betty is a rock solid old-time fiddler. While Betty can teach beginning violinists with written notation, she strongly prefers to play and teach in the aural tradition of the Appalachian mountains. In that tradition, she plays tunes for and with her students and records lessons as her primary teaching methods. Betty emphasizes listening to traditional string band music of the past – especially styles that combine fiddle and clawhammer banjo. She employs and teaches older tunings characteristic of the old-time style.
With her family band, The Druckenmillers, she has recorded six CDs: The Road Home, ‘Til the Clouds Roll By, Harvest Time, Morning Star, Bound to Change and Back Home. The Druckenmiller family has shared the stage with Beausoleil, Byron Berline, Bill Hicks, Jones & Leva, Brad Leftwich, Cathy Fink & Marcy Marxer. Venues include the stage at Augusta Heritage Center in Elkins, West Virginia, Godfrey Daniels in Bethlehem and the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia.
Tom and Betty, with Norm Williams, Paula Taylor and Mike Andrews, are founders of the Maidencreek Old-time Music Festival, held in July every year in a lovely picnic grove in Berks County, Pennsylvania. It’s a hands-on learning and teaching event, one day only, with concerts, crafts and a great community of old-time musicians and fans in attendance.
I have my first lesson with Betty coming up on Saturday, April 27th, and will be working with her every other Saturday. The music center where she teaches on alternate Saturdays is a long 120 mile round trip for me, but I think the effort will be well worth it to learn from such an esteemed fiddle player and teacher. I am looking forward to the experience, and will keep you posted.