Lesson Two with My Teacher

With the car problems I experienced last month and a previously scheduled craft show on another Saturday, yesterday was my second lesson with my teacher after the first one six weeks ago. A long time…

I made the sixty-plus mile trip down to Blandon, PA on a gorgeous, but a bit warm and humid, morning listening to a few of my favorite fiddle tune CDs. The last three miles of the trip were the worst as the traffic slowed to a crawl as the 27th Annual World War II Weekend was being held at the Reading Regional Airport just down the road from Meadowood Music where I have my lessons. As I sweated out this delay, both figuratively (hate being late) and literally (my air conditioner died the day before), I arrived in the nick of time and hurried into the old 18th century building known as Meadowood Music.

Meadowood Music in Blandon, PA

After catching my teacher up on what I have been working on the past few weeks, along with what was going well and what was not going so well, she suggested we play Angeline the Baker together, the song she left me with at the end of my first lesson. I was pleasantly surprised and pleased when she told me I had done a good job on the tune, especially with the notes on the E string and that my intonation throughout the song was good, too. I did remind her I had six weeks of practice! LOL

She talked about how many Old Time songs are divided into two parts, an A part and a B part, and that most times the A part is played twice before moving to the B part which is also played twice. While there are exceptions, this pattern is quite common and is conducive to dancing, which is so common with Old Time fiddle music. She went on to say that it is not uncommon to keep playing this pattern for perhaps up to fifteen minutes at a dancing event.

She suggested we play the tune together in this “repeat” pattern from Part A to Part B a number of times, both to get the feel for what it is like to play a tune continuously, and because it would be good practice. She warned me before hand that I shouldn’t be surprised if I had difficulty when starting to repeat a part, and she was right! The first time through Part A I was fine, but when I had to repeat Part A I started to have some difficulty, and the same was true when I had to repeat Part B. Betty explained that it would take a short time to re-train my brain since it was used to going straight from Part A to Part B without any repeating, and she was right again. After a few more tries, I was making the transition to repeating parts more smoothly.

Next, she began teaching me a new tune, Julianne Johnson. This tune is attributed to Emmett Lundy of Grayson County, VA. Emmett started fiddling in his late teens, and his primary influence was “Old man Green Leonard.” Greenberry Leonard (1810-1892) lived in Old Town, just a few miles north of the Lundy home place. Although he was never recorded, Emmett and others declared Leonard as the best fiddler in the region. The older musician didn’t like to share his tunes but Lundy “caught” them anyway by hanging around Greenberry Leonard as much as he could. Emmett was recorded playing Julianna Johnson in August 1941 when Elizabeth Lomax interviewed and recorded Lundy for the Archive of Folk Song, Library of Congress. You can hear the original recording at Slippery Hill, a fantastic site for rare fiddle tunes and information.

Emmett Lundy 1864-1953

I immediately liked this tune. I did reach overload trying to learn more than the first few phrases, but by then my lesson was quickly coming to an end. Betty played the entire tune through while I recorded it on my phone. After the trip back home, I worked at writing the song in tab format which you can see and download in my Fiddle Tune Tabs section. And, also on that page is great rendition of this tune played by Larry Hadsall which I am posting here in case you don’t make it over to that page.

With a craft show scheduled for our home business on June 22nd, my next lesson won’t be for four weeks on July 6th. I’m already looking forward to it! I better get started on learning Julianne Johnson.

  6 comments for “Lesson Two with My Teacher

  1. cooperlove
    June 30, 2019 at 5:39 pm

    Just joined and loving this blog site. RE: accumulated rosin: it is damaging if left on the instrument. Can penetrate the finish, can dry the wood leading to surface damage to grain separation of the Fiddle wood A swipe with a soft cloth before putting away your fiddle is recommended. Also, a wine cork is GREAT for cleaning rosin from strings. The bow should also be wiped clean AND STORED OUTSIDE your fiddle case as mites love nibbling on the hair in a dark/moist atmosphere of a closed case.

    • July 1, 2019 at 6:51 am

      Welcome cooperlove and I am so glad you like this blog! Thanks for that tip about a wine cork for cleaning rosin from the strings. I recently bought “The String Cleaner” (https://fiddlershop.com/products/the-string-cleaner) from the Fiddlershop. It costs about as much as a bottle of good wine, but you can’t drink the contents before cleaning your strings! 🙂 Never knew about mites either; this is the first time I have heard this.

  2. old cowboy
    June 10, 2019 at 4:29 pm

    I cannot help but notice that some of these old time fiddle players have rosin laying all over their fiddles! I could not stand to see my fiddle looking like this! Don’t they care anything about their fiddles?

    • June 12, 2019 at 6:13 am

      I think some fiddlers enjoy “breaking the rules” of conventional violin thought.

  3. old cowboy
    June 10, 2019 at 4:20 pm

    thanks for sharing your fiddle lessons with us. I am a self learner and I try to pick up every bit of info I can. Found this very interesting.

    • June 12, 2019 at 6:12 am

      Glad you found this interesting, and I always appreciate your comments!

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