Fiddle Bowing: Rhythm, Drive & Feeling: A Workshop with Betty Vornbrock
March 2 @ 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm
The Handmade Music School presents Fiddle Bowing: Rhythm, Drive & Feeling: A Workshop with Betty Vornbrock at the Floyd Country Store on Saturday, March 2nd, 2024 from 3:00-5:00pm. Cost is $25.
Have you heard a fiddle tune that made you smile, tap your foot, dance, or warmed your heart, maybe brought a tear to your eye? Are you hoping that your own fiddling will hit others that way? It’s all in the bowing, and what you put into it!
In this workshop, we will explore the sounds the bow can make, and how you can add rhythm, volume dynamics, and even emotion to your playing. How a phrase is voiced, how the rhythm is accented, and the freedom to “change it up” takes a tune from a string of notes to a foot-stomper, or a tear-jerker. We will determine an Old-Time tune we all know to work with, as well as learn two or three that have some chops you can use in your own repertoire. Please think of a tune or two you know and like, but are not satisfied with. My hope is that you will go home with some helpful ways to approach that tune. This workshop is aimed for a broad intermediate level. It will help if you already learn tunes by ear (I will not offer written music), and basically know how to play the instrument. That said, an advanced beginner, as well as a beyond intermediate, will find useful ideas, exercises, and bowing tips in this workshop. And, while we will use Old Time style tunes, these bowing fundamentals can be useful in all fiddle styles. Please bring a recording device, and your fiddle!
Betty Vornbrock is an accomplished fiddler in several different traditional styles. Her first love is that of the Appalachian Mountains, and has focused on the tunes of West Virginia, Kentucky, and the Blue Ridge since the late ’70’s. For the most part her Old-Time influences include West Virginia fiddlers Wilson Douglas, Melvin Wine, Sarah Singleton, and Burl and Edn Hammons; Kentucky fiddlers JP Fraley, Ed Haley, Clyde Davenport, and Snake Chapman; and, more locally to the Blue Ridge, Ralph Blizard, Tommy Jarrell, Emmett Lundy, and Henry Reed.
Currently a fiddle teacher for private lessons and occasional workshops, she taught and sat on the board of the Galax, VA JAM program (Junior Appalachian Musicians) for 7 years. Betty enjoys passing on our musical heritage to the school children of our area, as well as teaching at music camps such as Mars Hill, Cowan Creek, and the Augusta Heritage Workshops. In 2018 she was a featured fiddle master at the Festival Of American Fiddle Tunes, in Port Townsend, WA.
Betty and her band, the Reed Island Rounders, hit the festival circuit each summer, and have taken honors at Galax, Mount Airy, Clifftop, Glenville, Fiddler’s Grove, Ed Haley Contest, and many of the other fiddlers’ conventions. She took first place in the senior fiddle division at Clifftop 2018, and the band enjoyed their third participation in the FOAOTMAD Festival in England, followed by a concert tour in Scotland in 2019. Twice a featured band at the Chicago Folk Festival, the Rounders love to play for square dances and contras, festivals, and house concerts. They have produced 4 CDs as a band, and have collaborations with others, such as Betty’s twin-fiddle album, “Side by Side”, with Kentucky fiddler J.P. Fraley, capturing the pair’s love of harmony.