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March 2021

Sunny Greetings to Our Friends & Fiddlers 🎻,

Spring is in the air, and we will soon delight in flowers, balmy breezes, and outdoor music! I’m sensing a lighter spirit in folks as each day passes. We’ll have plenty to do this summer here at Full Circle, including all of our group classes ongoing, a new drum circle class(es), and possibly some workshops on basic ear training and music theory.

We kicked off Spring resuming our UpLevel and Tunes & Technique classes; everyone is learning loads, playing for the joy of music, and basically having a great (but not wild) party night on top of it all!  For our Slow Traditional Music Session class, I am hoping that we will resume around the first of May.

And just for an FYI, we are continuing our Covid protocols at Full Circle just as we have maintained since the beginning. This means distancing, and masks except when in our spots (private lessons individual choice, but we distance at about 10 feet). We have our air purifiers running for all lessons & groups, windows now open (YAY!!!!), and all stands, stools, etc. are continually happily sanitized. Also the French Connection option (separate rooms with clear divider in the French door space) is available and ready anytime.

Private lesson program students occasionally want to take a look at their progress, musical/technical needs and desires from an objective view aside from their own experience and the weekly lesson interchange between student and instructor. During the 2nd week of April, I’ll be offering optional in-depth evaluations, for any students who would like one. This is a 4-page assessment which can be quite useful and provide detailed guidance.

If you would like to do an evaluation, I will have a sign-up sheet the first week of April. Once you've signed up, I will prepare/complete each individual assessment and make a copy for the student. The evaluation conference, where we will work through your assessment, will be during your private lesson time the following week – giving you three lessons and a conference in April, instead of the usual four lessons. Your choice!  (Evaluation Conferences will be available only during the 2nd week of April.)

Yours in Harmony!


Memorizing a Trad Tune using Music

Last month we shared tips for memorizing a traditional tune by ear. This month, we’ll lay out a plan for memorizing using sheet music.

#1. Choose a tune at your skill level. Pick something in a key you’re familiar with, that’s fun and not overly long or challenging.

#2. Learn the tune slowlyusing your music. Once the notes are familiar, be sure to choose the fingerings and bowing which are best for you, and stick with them. Learning to play your tune with music can take from a week to a month. (Optional: Listen to/view your tune being played – if you can find the same version and key; it’s too confusing if it’s different.)

#3. Memorize 4 bars at a time. Beginning with a ​different starting place ​at each practice, and ​playing just 4 bars ​at a time, use the following approach:
a. With eyes firmly on the notes, loop the section 6-8X.
b. Without the music (out of sight completely!) play the section 2X. ONLY 2X!
c. Repeat that sequence 4X, then move to the next section.

#4. Combine sections, bit by bit. When the shorter sections are sinking into your memory, combine two of them to make 8-bar sections, and use the same learning sequence of playing with music 6-8X followed by without music 2X.

#5. Play all the way through. Finally, play the whole tune 2X with music and 2X by memory.

I have always had great success with both the “by ear” approach we shared last month and with this one for using sheet music. There are lots of ways to work on memorizing, however, so feel free to branch out to whatever works for you. FYI, a classical music piece, unless very simple, would require a very different approach, mainly because there are so many layers to classical music.

Fanny Power Duet
This month's sheet music is the well-known Turlock O'Carolan tune Fanny Power – with a lovely harmony added by Cayt. Click here to download a PDF of the sheet music for this duet.
According to the site Traditional Tune Archive, Fanny Power was composed sometime before 1728 in praise of Frances (Fanny), the daughter of his rich patrons David and Elizabeth Power of Coorheen, Loughrea, County Galway. Take a look at the country around Loughrea, where O'Carolan was inspired to write Fanny Power. (The cellist who searched for Power's house plays her own frenetic version of Fanny Power. Our violin duet is much calmer and nicer!) 
Celebrate St. Patrick's Day x 2
Two great ways to enjoy traditional fiddle music for St. Patrick's Day!
  1. Natalie McMaster & Donnell Leahy, 7 p.m. on March 17
    Natalie and Donnell invite you into their home for a night of music and fun that will also include other friends and family in Donegal, Ireland and Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. This amazing duo has seven kids; some or all of them usually participate in their concerts. Tickets cost C$15 plus tax and service fee, coming to just under US$16. A real bargain for this quality. On Homeplay Live. (They'll send you a link after you buy your ticket.) For more information and to register, click here.
  2. A Celtic Equinox, 11 a.m. March 19 - 11 p.m. March 21
    This collaboration between Celtic musicians from New England, Canada and Ireland gives you access to pre-recorded performance videos produced in the musicians' homes and home studios on both sides of the Atlantic. The program also includes 15 recorded and livestream workshops, from basic to advanced level, on various instruments. On Zoom; suggested donation of $20. You can get more information here and here, and register here
Thanks to Martha Bonneau for sharing both these concerts for the newsletter!
Cartoon of the Month
Inspiring Quote
Practice not for the purpose of memorizing, but for the purpose of knowing the piece. If, at the end of the day, you find that you can't perform music by memory, then use the music. Imagine yourself in the audience, and think about what would be more important to you: a performer playing from memory with a bit of trepidation, or a performer confidently playing off sheet music. Most audiences will readily choose the latter. 
Itzhak Perlman
Fiddle AND Dance? Why not!
Think you're finally getting the hang of playing the fiddle? Why not try dancing at the same time, like Hillary Klug – shown here with her mentor Thomas Maupin. If you're curious to learn how Hillary developed her trademark style of dancing while she fiddles, here's her story.
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