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JSArts Music Workshops have been running for over 25 years, set up and managed by Jo & Jimmy Smith to bring folk music education to a wide range of participants. Recently JSArts courses have been held at Jo & Jimmy’s bespoke venue in Grantham, but the time has come for them to step back and hand over the reins. From July 2019, JSArts Music Workshops will by run by Stewart Hardy Music and will be held in different venues around the country.
JSArts courses are friendly residential weekend workshops which embrace intensive study, where the combination of good humour and the highest standards of tuition provide ample opportunity to extract the very most from the course. The workshops typically take between 8 and 12 people.
The courses run from Friday evening until Sunday afternoon and cost £325 per person. The cost covers all tuition, food, daytime refreshments and overnight accommodation, allowing the focus to be on the music and the learning experience. Beautiful venues enhance the sense of retreat, and allow you to immerse yourself fully into the course. Non-residential rates may be available – please enquire.
For all courses, sheet music and mp3 files of the candidate tunes are provided in advance and are included in the price. Recordings of exercises and notes from the course are sent on to you afterwards.
Current course offerings include Fiddle Technique workshops at Standard and Advanced Level, Arrangement Techniques for Mixed Instruments and Advanced Style & Repertoire workshops for Mixed Instruments.

All JSArts Music Workshop Events

 

Fiddle Technique Workshops

These courses are centered around the technical issues that come with playing fiddle music, with as much emphasis on how we play as there is on what we play. The workshops delve deep into the tunes, extracting exercises to improve technique and allow its application to a wider repertoire. We focus on left-hand and bowing technique, with the stylistic interpretation of the music a key feature. Tunes are carefully selected for their technical and stylistic content whilst also bearing in mind practical considerations such as their usefulness in folk music sessions or as dance repertoire. The tunes are taught ‘as if by ear’, meaning they are taught phrase by phrase at a tempo and with sufficient repetition to enable learning without the need to read the notation. This encourages the development of aural pattern recognition and general musicality, enhancing musicianship and the enjoyment of playing music in social settings. Nevertheless we gladly make notation available at any point should that be desired or necessary recognising that participants come from a variety of backgrounds with a wide range of preferred learning methods.

Which level is suitable for me?

The essential element that any prospective participant needs to enjoy these courses is a willingness to learn. We welcome fiddlers who are curious about their instrument and the music that is played on it, enjoy learning in a group environment and appreciate the needs of their course colleagues. We recognise that many musicians like to be challenged in their playing and learning. By providing good resources we hope to facilitate aspirational players who are content to grasp the idea of the course content without necessarily having acquired the technical skills being taught by the end of the course, but to take the material away to incorporate into their own practice.
However, where the gap in ability and/or experience is too great there is the danger that the attendee will become discouraged and frustrated. In a worst case scenario this can disrupt workshops and prevent others attendees from enjoying the full benefits of the course. We would be pleased to advise anybody with concerns and would ask them to contact us to discuss the best way forward.

Standard Level

Courses are aimed at fiddle players with a broad range of experience and ability, from competent beginner to upper intermediate, but please note they are not suitable for absolute or early beginners. We would expect players to have most of the following skills:
  • – playing simple dance tunes at steady to mid tempo (e.g. reels and jigs at 50-80 beats per minute)
  • – able to clap in time to a tune
  • – have basic control of the bow on the string
  • – able to slur notes together
  • – comfortable in the keys of G,D and A major and familiar with their note names
  • – familiarity with C major
  • – able to play basic scales without notation
  • – able to play at least 2 tunes without notation
In addition fiddlers who attend these courses often have some of the following experience:
  • – attend other fiddle workshops
  • – play with a community folk music group
  • – join in folk music sessions
  • – receive tuition on the fiddle/violin

Standard Fiddle Technique Events

 

Advanced Level

These courses are for proficient players with good to high technical competence, who are comfortable with their instruments and repertoire, and who may have some of the following experience and skills:
  • – playing folk tunes at dance tempo
  • – comfortable in key signatures of up to 3 sharps and 1 flat
  • – familiarity with key signatures of up to 4 sharps and 3 flats
  • – attending folk music sessions and joining in with tunes by ear
  • – leading sets of tunes in sessions
  • – playing for dancing and/or in concert bands
  • – teaching violin and/or fiddle
  • – attending advanced tutorials/workshops in other genres of music
  • – aware of the application of bowing patterns and ornamentation in fiddle music

Advanced Fiddle Technique Events

 

Mixed Instrument Workshops

Arrangement Techniques

Courses are open to players of any instrument (including transposing instruments) and are aimed at a broad range of abilities from intermediate to advanced. Workshops focus on techniques for arranging tunes for the combination of instruments to hand, using tools such as tempo, texture, dynamics and harmonic structure to create a musical narrative. To enjoy the full benefits of these courses, participants should be able to read notation or confidently and quickly pick up tunes and musical ideas by ear. We will do our best to help create viable groups by monitoring the instrumentation as participants sign up for the course.
Arrangement Techniques (Mixed Instrument) Events

 

Advanced Style and Repertoire

Courses are open to proficient players of any instrument (including transposing instruments) who possess good to high technical competence. Workshops focus on regional styles and repertoire or compositions by a particular folk musician. Participants may have some of the following experience and skills:
  • – playing folk tunes at dance tempo
  • – attending folk music sessions and joining in or leading sets of tunes
  • – playing for dancing and/or in concert bands
  • – teaching music
  • – attending other advanced tutorials/workshops

Advanced Style & Repertoire (Mixed Instruments) Events

 

Ushaw College, Durham