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Fiddleheads with Brian Perkins

17 November 2018
9:30 am - 12:00 pm
Burlington Violin Shop

Brian Perkins leads Fiddleheads for an extended fall/early winter residency on 11/17/18, teaching and rehearsing tunes that Fiddleheads will perform at the annual Deck the Halls celebration at Shelburne Museum on 12/2/18.  More info here.

Brian is a performing musician and music educator. As the beneficiary of a strong public school music education program he is determined to return the favor by helping youth and adults express themselves and their shared culture though music. He has recorded and performed with countless brass and traditional string bands. As a founding member of the Vermont’s Atlantic Crossing he developed, performed and recorded repertoire highlighting the immigrant traditions of our region. He has been involved with the Champlain Valley Folk Festival (Board Member, Site Coordinator), the Last Elm Cafe Collective, the Celtic College (Director) and also with various other groups fostering traditional music and dance in Vermont.

Along with his daughter Ella, he became involved in the Burlington Public School District music programs including the musical theater productions of Burlington’s Very Merry Theater. In recent years he has been on teaching staff at Trad Camp and has also taught classes through Burlington Parks and Recreation, FlynnArts and Edmunds Middle School were he directed the 6th Grade Jazz Band for 3 years.  He is founder and leader of ONE (Old North End) Band.


Pick the Fiddleheads group that matches you and your instrument…..

  • 9:30am to 10am for beginners: you’ve got an instrument and you’re taking lessons from someone, but you’re fairly new to playing tunes, Fiddleheads or learning in a group, you are just learning to play by ear, you are beginning to be able to hear and play a short sequence of notes you hear someone else plays slowly
  • 10:15am to 11am for advanced beginners: you’ve learned to play some simple tunes by ear either at Fiddleheads or from someone else, you can hear a short sequence of notes played slowly by someone else and reproduce them on your instrument after a few attempts, you haven’t had a lot of experience learning in a group setting
  • 11:15am to 12 noon for intermediates: you’re able to learn and remember tunes by ear, you are able to play tunes you have learned for others who are listening, you’ve had experience learning in a group setting, you can hear a bar or 2 of music played slowly and reproduce them on your instrument after one or two attempts

More info about Fiddleheads

The primary goal of Fiddleheads is the enjoyment of traditional music and playing that music with others. Regular participation is welcome but not required. Other than a $5 donation for rehearsal sessions there is no cost associated with being part of the group.

When do sessions start and end? Full sessions are about 2 1/2 hours. See above for the segments.  Players who feel confident in an early segment can stay for the next one if they feel they are learning easily and can keep up the pace.

What will you learn? One or two tunes are typically taught in each session. If the session is part of series by the same instructor, they may re-visit/re-teach tunes that have been taught previously. Sessions are also used to prepare repertoire for public appearances. The type of tunes learned depends on who the group leader is. Sometimes its music from Quebec, sometimes Ireland, sometimes Scotland….. typically from places and sources with an active fiddling tradition. Tunes are taught by ear. Sometimes sheet music is provided by the group leader, but not always. If provided, sheet music and recordings are most often sent via e-mail after the session is over.  If you’re new to the group and want those things, make sure we have your e-mail address before you leave.

All melody instruments welcome, not just fiddles. Fiddlers are in the majority at the sessions, but those who play harp, cello, banjo, mandolin, whistle, pipes and others have also been involved. Guitar, keyboard and other accompaniment-oriented players are welcome, but the teaching is mostly melody/tune-oriented.  Players of other instruments have participated and are most welcome, but they should be fairly comfortable with listening and being able to transfer notes they hear to their own instrument.  There won’t likely be anything like ‘put your 1st finger on the 2nd string’ as it applies to instruments other than the instructor’s instrument.

Where? The Burlington Violin Shop in Burlington

When? Most often there is a Fiddleheads session one Saturday a month, usually mid to late morning. E-mail notices sent in advance of each session. Write to mark.sustic@gmail.com to be put on that mailing list.

What to bring? Bring your instrument, a tuning device (if you use one) and a recording device as needed. Recordings of all tunes taught at each session are e-mailed after the session to those who attend.

What playing level? See the description of each section above.

What does it cost? $5 donation is suggested. First timers are welcome to observe without contributing. Checks should be made out to Young Tradition Vermont (or ‘YTV’). If that’s a hardship or you forget to bring money, no one is refused.

You can just show up if you want to, but there’s room for only a limited number of participants. It is helpful if you can RSVP with an e-mail to mark.sustic@gmail.com. We also send messages about canceling if there’s not more than 4 or 5 confirmed for a session. Best to let us know if you’re planning on attending.

Additional information is available on the Fiddleheads Facebook page.

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