Fiddle Workshop Weekend
With Gina Le Faux
11th – 13th October 2013
Ripponden, West Yorkshire
Looking at English dance tunes from manuscripts and early published sources and some music
from the Gow family of Dunkeld
Friday evening: an informal presentation by Gina on the history and development of the violin,
illustrating the changes in the construction of violins and how they affected
the way they were played. There will also be an opportunity to look at some
period instruments in original condition. Followed by a fiddle-led session.
Saturday: Workshop 10 – 1 and 2.30 – 4.30 evening session from 8.00
Sunday: Workshop 10 – 1 and 2.30 – 4.00
Music will be supplied in advance on CD/MP3 and with written music
The workshop will use English and Scottish tunes to explore bowing, rhythm, bowing and
finger patterns for reels, jigs and hornpipes plus a look at how to play a slow air
As there will be limited places available for the workshop advanced booking is essential
For more information or to
book a place, use the Contact Form
£75 tuition (include tea and
Well, I’ve finally got round to another blog. Here we are in midsummer already – not that you’d know it!
On the playing side I’ve been booked for quite a few ceilidhs, parties and dances over the past few weeks, working with fellow musicians Liam Robinson, Tim Walker, Nina Zagorski, Eoin Teather, James Raynard and callers Sue Coe and Ron Darnbrough. I’ve been all over the place: Hertfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Yorkshire, Bedfordshire and Lincoln. I’ve been playing at dances since I was a teenager and I never tire of it. I’m also looking forward to getting together with Tim van Eyken in the not too distant future, to start rehearsing for the Tim Van Eyken Band pre-Christmas tour (more details about that soon!). At home, I’ve been playing a lot of Bach on the mandolin, as well as mandolin music written by various 18th century Italian composers. Purely for my own enjoyment, you understand! I’ve also been playing guitar and getting some ideas for new songs.
Down in my workshop, I’m busy with various luthier jobs. I’m working on a couple of mandolins and fiddles for customers, as well as major restoration work on a 19th century French violin. I’ve also done a lot of work on a badly damaged guitar and now it’s almost ready to set up. Do get in touch if you have a stringed instrument that needs repairs or restoration, or if you just need a set-up or a bow rehair.
On the teaching front, a couple of new mandolin students have started taking lessons with me recently, which is great as I have mostly fiddle students. I think that the mandolin must be getting more popular. I hope so because it’s a great instrument. Mandolins are also a great aid for fiddle players and they improve your intonation and general precision. Every fiddle player should have one!
I’m looking into offering Skype lessons in the near future, and just need to make sure I have the technology all sorted out before promoting that option here on my website. So even if you live on distant shores (or just the other side of the country) you’ll be able to come to me for fiddle or mandolin lessons online. In the meantime, I still have space for a couple more “real world” students! So if you’re looking for a fiddle or mandolin teacher and you’re in or near West Yorkshire, drop me a line through the contact form here or via my Facebook page at Gina Le Faux Music.
Well, things have been busy in the workshop already this year. I’ve been working on a couple of mandolins – one is an Eastman F5 copy, in for a re-fret, and the other is an Embergher 5 bis copy circa 1920, a round-backed roman mandolin with fluted maple ribs. It needed a new fingerboard and a general tidy up. I also started work on a neck graft on an 18th century Bohemian violin; the old neck had been broken in an accident. I’ve also done some bow rehairs and repaired a belly crack in a German violin c1870. I’m currently finishing off some repairs to Mike Harding‘s fiddle.
As well as my luthier work, I give private lessons and I have a few spaces available for new students on fiddle or mandolin. If you’re interested in lessons or need a repair to your fiddle or mandolin, please get in touch here.
If you haven’t heard my fiddle playing (or even if you have!), try this link.
You can also check out my mandolin playing here.
I’m planning to record an instrumental CD in the spring and hope to include some Bach, Vivaldi and Corelli, along with traditional tunes and some swing. I’ll be playing arrangements on fiddle, mandolin, viola, mandola, mandocello and guitar! I’ll also be teaching at a fiddle workshop in Grantham in May 2012. More details on that to follow soon. No live dates planned at the moment other than private functions, but watch this space . . .
It all began with an email that I never received ….
A couple of weeks ago, Ira Bernstein and Riley Baugus were on their way over from the USA for their annual tour. Their popular Appalachian Roots show combines Riley’s old time banjo playing with Ira’s traditional Appalachian clogging and flatfooting, and they both play fiddle too. Just before they left the States, Ira discovered that he had problems with his fiddle: the centre joint of the back was coming apart. There was no time to get it fixed before he left, so Ira sent me an email asking if I could fix it. I never got this email, but luckily he had also emailed Sue Coe, who got in touch and filled me in with the details.
When a very jet-lagged Ira turned up at my house shortly afterwards, I had a good look at the fiddle. There was no way of repairing it without taking off the belly and this work would take some time to do. Ira and Riley were off on tour the following day, so I decided to loan Ira my Bridge “Woodstock” fiddle whilst I worked on his. The show must go on! To make things easier for him, I set this fiddle up with the same string heights as his own instrument. I also copied the curve of the bridge on Ira’s fiddle on to a new bridge, which I fitted on the Woodstock fiddle.
Back to the main job of repairing Ira’s fiddle. I re-glued and studded the back joint and I noticed that some previous repairs had not been done properly. The fiddle had a sound post crack to the belly but there was no patch fitted. I fitted a sound post patch and a new sound post. I tidied up the instrument and set it up with Ira’s original bridge.
Ira and Riley had a few gigs followed by a couple of days off. So they headed back up north and stayed with Pete and Sue Coe in Ripponden, just a few miles from my house (Pete and Sue help to run the brilliant Ryburn 3 Step organisation which promotes traditional music, song and dance of all kinds). Ira came over and picked up his fiddle and we played some music together. As well as being good fun, I needed him to play the instrument so that I could make some final adjustments. Ira was very pleased with the work I did on his fiddle. I went to see the Appalachian Roots show at The Square Chapel in Halifax, West Yorks and thoroughly enjoyed it – especially the bit where Ira advertised my skills as a luthier!
I’ve been busy with lots of musical ventures this autumn so I’ve got a bit behind on updating my blog….must try harder!
On the playing front, I’ve been working on various projects, including one where I got to play my old Telecaster a lot. More news on that still to come! I’ve also played at dances all over the place and I’ve been working on an 18th century English music project which has involved a lot of research and a fair bit of detective work. Back in September, one of my more unusual bookings was playing for a ceilidh at an ostrich farm in Oxfordshire, along with James Raynard (fiddle) and Heather Horsley (piano). A grand time was had by all and no ostriches were harmed in the making of this blog.
Teaching fiddle and mandolin is a nice change from performance and I have a good mix of students on my books at the moment. My youngest student is just eight years old and the eldest a gentleman in his eighties. They’re both learning a range of traditional English and Scottish music while another student is learning American bluegrass and old-time tunes. I really get a kick out of teaching and seeing my students improve and develop.
Meanwhile down in the workshop, my latest projects include my recently-acquired 94-year-old Gibson K2 mandocello. It’s a fabulous beast as you can see from the photo! I’m working on a 19th Century French violin too, which will be for sale after I’ve completed the restoration, and I’ve also been doing some bow rehairs and general instrument set-up as well as repairs and restoration.
Phew! I think I need a bit of a lie-down after all that. More soon!