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Marla Fibish Interview

Those of us fortunate enough to have had mandolin class with Marla (aka a Marla-holic) know what a fabulous teacher and player she is. Well, she’s all over the news today, so if you’re a mandolin player, do yourself a favor and check these links out just in time for St. Paddy’s. Be sure to watch the videos in the interview. I’ve also posted a link to her new course offered at Peghead Nation. If it is anything like her live classes, it will be well worth your time! Enjoy!

Marla Fibish Article

Marla’s Mandolin course at Peghead Nation

Session II Class – Spring 2016

Week 4

Greetings from the left coast. In my mad rush to get projects finished before leaving the house, I forgot that I hadn’t recorded Doyle’s Castle, but remembered literally 20 minutes before walking out the door to catch my plane. So here is me playing it (I believe) pretty much as written with the music I passed out last class.

Doyle’s Castle (2 part jig in G major or Ionian mode)

For those of you on whistle and/or flute, here are two alternatives for the A part where it goes below D. The first one is fairly simple, just play it an octave higher in the first phrase and then switch for the second phrase. The second alternative is to harmonize on several notes in the first phrase (basically playing the 3rd above the melody note). Try out both and see which you prefer.

Doyle’s Castle (1st Alternative for A phrase)
Doyle’s Castle (2nd Alternative for A phrase)

Remember to also practice the G scale exercises! A little trickier than the first set, but also a little more interesting to play!

I’m not sure we’ll have time to do the next tune, but here’s the one I’m considering – Have a Drink with Me. Another G jig. I think it is also known as the first of the Harry Potter Jigs from one of the movies. The version below is part of a set with several other common jigs that would make sense to learn if you don’t yet know them as they are played locally fairly often.

Extra credit – if you search the youtube videos, you may find Joe Basconi who used to live in Charlottesville playing the full “Harry Potter Set”. You’ll note his version is slightly different from what I posted. Actually, if you listen to several of the videos of the tune, you’ll find quite a few variations on how to play it. The way I’ve heard it is more similar to the first set, but good to listen to all the versions! Folk music, not set in stone!

Week 3

We seem to have a revolving student list – which keeps things interesting! So, over this weekend work on the following:

  • Practice Cup of Tea – Play it before and after some of your favorite reels and work on smooth transitions.
  • Learn Virginia Reel – We’ll focus on this one next week and perhaps I won’t get it confused with the tune that shall not be named!
  • Work on the D scale exercise I passed out in class. Keep it smooth and when you feel confident, increase the speed by 10% or so. Repeat, but always make sure you are confident in your playing. When it starts to break down, take note of where and perhaps practice that part a bit more. Try playing the same exercise in a D mixolydian scale if you are feeling really confident!
  • As I mentioned in class, next up will be a jig in G major (ionian). I was lucky enough to see Sheila and Elaine in Ennis last November at their CD release of Shores of Lough Breda. Loved their playing as well. As it turned out, almost all the tunes were written by Paddy O’Donoghue from Tulla in East Clare and Sheila and Elaine have made it their mission to spread these tunes “all over the world”. I promised to do my part and teach one of the tunes in my next session class. So here it is – Doyle’s Castle. Flutes and whistles will need to play one of the phrases in the A part high (or, perhaps create a nice 3rd note harmony with the melody). Anyway, for now, just listen and get the tune in your head (stage 1 of learning a tune!!).

    Hope to see some of you at tonight’s Dervish / Kevin Burke concert. How lucky can we be??

    P.S. For extra credit, see if you can figure out the root / tonic and the mode / modes for the 2nd tune in the set.

    Week 2

    Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Great to play with everyone this week. Fun to have some new faces and thanks to Augie for sitting in and offering some flutish hints (like how to play Bb on the flute!)

    So, our tune for next week will be the Virginia Reel. Here’s a group playing it – how can one resist a group named “Ferrets of the Mall”. Anyway, some very nice guitar chords and a little old timey, especially with the clawhammer banjo, but a nice rendition and enjoyable to listen to in order to get the tune in your head.

    Here’s me playing the Virginia Reel more slowly. It’s not quite the same as the notation in the, but closer to how I’ve heard it played in our group over the years.

    Virginia Reel (2 part reel in D major or Ionian mode)

    Speaking of modes, here is a recording of the D Scale in the 4 modes used in Irish music (Ionian, Mixolydian, Dorian, and Aeolian). For now, practice the two major scales – Ionian and Mixolydian, but understand how the 4 scales are created for a key (major scale, then drop the 7th for Mixolydian, then drop the 3rd for Dorian, then drop the 6th for Aeolian). We’ll keep building on this theory stuff each week so you’ll be confused at a higher level by the end of 6 weeks!

    D Scales – 4 Modes

    Week 1

    We had a small, but dedicated, group last night and I look forward to working with all of you for these 6 weeks. We’ll continue to learn new tunes in Session II, but we’ll also explore some additional topics each week.

    Top Tunes (and count) from the Tuesday Tin Whistle Session in Charlottesville
    Top 200 Session Tunes from as of March 2016

    New tune for next week – Cup of Tea (not to be confused with Ladies Cup of Tea which is a completely different tune). Here are a few recordings to listen to. First one is me. Second one (youtube video) is quite a bit zippier. I’ve added in a few triplets that you may use or ignore as you wish.

    Cup of Tea (3 part reel in Em/D)

    Just for fun reading

    How do you play that tune, anyway?

    I’ve noticed that people have various reactions to what constitutes the “right” way to play a tune and I always struggle with handing out a piece of written music to my session class (or particular chords to my guitar class for that matter) for fear the tune becomes “fixed” in someone’s mind. Traditional tunes are malleable and we should be open to (or dare I say welcome?) interesting variations on how a tune is played. Here’s a quick take on the subject from Martin Hayes.

    Also, here is a link to a somewhat related article and video from the Irish Times about The Gloaming, an on-going experiment in music, whose new CD will soon be released (featuring Martin among others).

    Summer Tunes and Songs

    Just back from Alex Caton’s Fiddle Camp, my last stop on a summer tour filled with lots of new musical inspiration, new friends, and, of course, new tunes! So much to catch up on before Fall’s courses start up in… oh my, just over a week. I still haven’t had the time to download all the music from Swannanoa off my iPhone and organize that yet as I’m just back from basically 3 straight weeks away from home (sadly, only 2 days of music).

    Going back to June, I had the opportunity to back Sara Read (fiddle) and Monika Fallon (singing/flute) on the forthcoming BRIMS CD. That was the highlight of a lovely week of music. Great to see Sara with a fiddle in her hands again these days. Backing her reminded me what a joy it is to play with melody players who have a really solid internal rhythm. Something I need to remember to talk about in session class. So often it is perceived that accompaniment players set the rhythm, but really, our job is to enhance/support the rhythm that is already created by the melody player. It was also a delight to recreate a bit of our last BRIMS trip to Ireland with Monika as we recorded “The Orchard”, a song we learned from Mairead Curran around the piano at the Ballyroe Hotel. Thanks to Dave C., finally got to hear some of the cuts off the CD over the weekend, including hearing Marina’s dance steps on Sara’s track. I think folks will be pleased with the results on the CD! Bobby Read has a fantastic new recording studio set-up in Charlottesville, so if you’re looking for studio time / engineering, check out Bobby. Really enjoyed working with him.

    Next up was Swannanoa in mid-July. It is honestly THE week I look forward to most all year and this year was the best yet, perhaps because Katherine was able to come, or perhaps just because each year I return I meet new friends and get to know returning friends better. Plus, the music rocked! I took three classes this year – Mandolin I with Marla Fibish, who was new to me. Really enjoyed her class and have also been enjoying her CD. Hoping that she’ll make her way to Charlottesville on an upcoming East Coast tour. Her “potluck” with Martin Hayes was certainly one of the highlights of my week. 2nd class of the day was Bouzouki with Robbin Bullock. I’ve been looking forward to taking a class with him since the first SwannyG concert I saw. What he does with O’Carolan pieces is mesmerizing and his Rosewood Castle CD remains one of my favorites. My last class was banjo with Eamon O’Leary. I’ve taken 3 classes with Eamon over the years, and I’ve always appreciated his approach to teaching. He always meets you where you are, encourages you to reach a little farther, and is very thorough. While I don’t play banjo much (why? b/c it is heavier than my octave mandolin? questions to ponder early in the morning), this was a terrific class for me.

    Late night sessions / slow jams / breakfast chats about picks were all wonderful as always. Great to catch up with some of the folks from Asheville I’ve met in years past who come by for an evening or two of tunes. I did miss being in a singing class, however. I think this was the first year I didn’t sign up for one. They always kind of center me, so I’ll get back to that next year for sure. Some of the tunes I heard and want to learn include: Brenda Stubbert’s, Pipe on the Hob (the 2 pt in D), Julia Delaney’s, Geese in the Bog, Faraway Waltz, Miss McLeod’s, Islay Rantor Reel, Christy Barry’s #1, Boy in the Bush, Donnybrook Fair, Rose in the Heather, Humours of Glendart, Hunter’s House, Monaghan Jig, and one of the Paddy Fahey’s (cripe… who knows now which one). Many standards that I just haven’t learned yet, but some lesser known ones too. Along with the tunes I learned in class, that should keep me busy for awhile. Are any of these on your list as well? Let’s learn them together!

    And finally, last weekend, I wrapped up my summer at Alex’s Fiddle Camp. Along with getting to hang out and play tunes with good friends from C’ville, I also took a couple of classes with Patrick Ourceau who came with his family and is such a great guy (and musician). Really enjoyed getting to know him a bit and their twins are a total hoot. My fiddle playing, however, left much to be desired. Not sure what to do about that! Though he does give Skype lessons now apparently 🙂 Also took one singing class with Pat Egan who long ago taught me a few key DADGAD runs when I was first getting started on guitar. And yes, he teaches guitar in standard tuning. Someone to check out if you’d prefer to build on playing in that tuning rather than trying to figure out drop D or DADGAD. So great to catch up with folks who are in Alex’s circle… many years, her camp is the one place I get to play tunes with them. It was fun to see the crew from NOVA who were there last year. Hope we’re able to get together one Sunday evening in Warrenton (or Culpeper… I forget now the session locale). Even try to dust off a few old-time tunes with somewhat limited success – many cobwebs there. Also a quick plug for Sara(h), a young fiddler who’s been a student of Alex’s for years. She made a huge jump in playing this past year. Just so cool to see these young players hit their stride!

    What I have missed with all the travel is playing with my bandmates in KGB. Fortunately, we’re playing tonight – Sunday (Aug 25th) at 6pm at Fellini’s. So, with that and BRIMS classes starting on Sept 3rd, sounds like we’ll be back on track. Look forward to see you all soon!

    Susan Fletcher Tansey Scholarship Recipients Announced for Swannanoa

    BRIMS is pleased to announce that fiddle student Leah Marshall and dance student Chloe Hellerman are recipients of the 2013 youth scholarships to the Swannanoa Gathering Celtic Week. The Susan Fletcher Tansey youth scholarship is made possible by a generous donation from Interpretive Simulations.

    Congrats Leah and Chloe!! Have a great week and bring back some new tunes and steps to our community! Sue would be so happy for you.