To keep us safe, we reimagined Fiddle Hell as an online festival and music camp in November, 2020. It was an exciting new way for our music community to reconnect during the pandemic. 35 concerts, 35 jams and 165 workshops were all live, with video replays for the next 3 months. Although we missed seeing our musical friends face-to-face, and jamming with them in the hallways, we had front-row seats for every virtual session, and were joined by new attendees and instructors from around the world!
We had such a good time that we ran a second Fiddle Hell Online on April 15-18, 2021! We enjoyed 35 live concerts, 35 live jam sessions, and 200 live workshops, for fiddle, mandolin, cello, guitar, old-time banjo, and singing. Other instruments and listeners were welcome, too.
Video replays of all 200 workshops, 35 jams, and 35 concerts from the April 2021 FHO are available for 3 months afterwards for attendees to enjoy. You can slow down the videos to half speed (without changing the pitch) for jams and workshops.
If you missed the April event, you can still sign up to view all the replays and download the handouts through July 18, 2021.
What will the future bring?
Fiddle Hell Online, Nov 4-7, 2021. Schedule, instructors, and registration will be posted right here in August, 2021.
Fiddle Hell Online, April 7-10, 2022. Schedule, instructors, and registration will be posted right here in January, 2022.
Fiddle Hell Massachusetts, Westford, MA, Nov 3-6, 2022.
Fiddle Hell instructors -- experienced & supportive teachers, and wonderful & inspiring players -- cover Bluegrass, Blues, Cajun, Cape Breton, East European, Electric, Irish, Jazz, Jazz Manouche, Klezmer, Latin, Mexican, New Acoustic, New England, Old-Time Southern, Québécois, Scandinavian, Scottish, Swing, Texas, and Western Swing styles. Historical and technical workshops are also on the program -- [April examples] "Songs from Black History," "Indigenous Fiddlers and Influences," "The Underground Railroad,""Efficient Practice Strategies," "Slay the Pain Dragon," "Looping Essentials," "Taking Your Music Online," "Electric Violin - How to Get There," "Five Ways to Learn a Fiddle Tune So You Never Forget It," and many more. As usual, workshops and jams are designed for Beginners, Low Intermediates, High Intermediates, or Advanced players, although you can attend any sessions you like. Attending FHO is not only an amazing experience, it’s a way for you to support and connect with these wonderful instructors and performers.
With 270 sessions + 100 different instructors + 3 months of video replays, Fiddle Hell Online is of great value to players and listeners alike. Attendees have said that their broad opportunities for learning (tunes, styles, instruments, techniques), gains in musical inspiration, and renewed connections with the community were priceless! Discounts are always provided for seniors and young musicians, and there are further discounts and giveaways for early bird signups. Scholarships based on financial need are available.
On behalf of Fiddle Hell and my family, we hope you are doing ok, staying healthy, and coping with the difficult changes to everyday life. We had a great time jamming, learning, and having fun with you in April! It was a time for friendship and reconnection, and for awesome learning and listening. We'll see you in November!
Fiddle Hell strives to be an actively inclusive and welcoming place for people of all racial groups, ethnicities, abilities, gender identities and/or expressions, sexual orientations, incomes, religions, and other identities. We value and embrace all forms of diversity among our staff and participants. In August 2020, we identified a number of areas where Fiddle Hell could improve with respect to racial justice, and we took taking steps to put these ideas into action. We were excited to offer workshops (in November 2020 and April 2021, and to continue beyond) that provide opportunities to learn about the contributions and roles of people of color in the origins and evolution of the instruments, tunes, and styles we play. Please click here to read about these steps in our full Statement about Fiddle Hell and Racial Justice.
Click the links on the left or use the menus suggested on the right
The Fiddle Hell Massachusetts Festival has been a yearly gathering of fiddlers, cellists, mandolin/guitar/old-time banjo players, and singers to meet, jam, learn, listen, and have fun. It's both friendly and diverse, crossing all ages and including many traditional musical styles. April, 2021, was our 17th Festival, and the second to be online (with session replays for 3 months). Typically, there are about 8% beginners, 25% low intermediates, 37% high intermediates, and 30% advanced players, with many workshop and jam session choices at each level. When FH is in-person in Westford, MA, roughly 15% of the attendees are kids, and we have some sessions just for them.
The invention of the late, great fiddler Dale Hopkins from Missouri, "Fiddle Hell" events have occurred in fun locations worldwide. Prior Fiddle Hells have been held in the US, the UK, the Netherlands, and Germany. Dale used the term "Fiddle Hell" to refer to the unique sound of many fiddlers playing a tune together. While Dale's two Fiddle Hell gatherings involved performances for the public as well as some informal sharing of tunes and techniques, Dave Reiner extended the concept to make the Fiddle Hell Massachusetts Festival more of a hands-on festival for all ages, with hundreds of scheduled workshops and jam sessions led by a wonderful group of experienced and supportive instructors, as well as many amazing concerts. The Fiddle Hell Massachusetts Festival and Fiddle Hell Online are now run by the Fiddle Hell Massachusetts LLC.
In 2019, we had 800+ musicians at the fifteenth Fiddle Hell Massachusetts, held at the Westford Regency Inn & Conference Center in Westford, MA. Participants came from as far away as Scotland, Germany, Canada, California, Alabama, Michigan, Texas and Florida, and from as near as Westford, MA, itself. They played and learned in many styles - New England, Irish, Scottish, Cape Breton, Southern Old-TIme, Bluegrass, French Canadian, Jazz, Swing, Scandinavian, Klezmer, Blues, Electric, World, and more. Many tunes were taught, along with the stylistic details of the different traditions. In-depth workshops on techniques covered jamming, learning by ear, backing up singers, music theory, bowing patterns, improvisation, looping, and much more. Informal hallway jams in 9 "jam spots" were active through most of the day and night. For attendees, instructors, and staff, 2019 was a Fiddle Hell to remember!
In November, 2020, we held our first Fiddle Hell Online, with over 800 attendees. Without physical space limitations, we increased the number of concerts to 35, along with 35 jams and 170 workshops. While there were no hallway jams or in-person hugs with musical friends, attendees really appreciated "front-row" seats for all sessions, and the ability to replay all sessions (and even slow them down) for the next 3 months. We were excited to offer many more workshops that provided opportunities to learn about the contributions and roles of people of color in the origins and evolution of the instruments, tunes, and styles we play. In April, 2021, we held our second Fiddle Hell Online, with even more workshops and over 900 attendees.
To help with jams, to give players some common repertoire, and to encourage all to try out new styles, we introduced the "original" set of 52 common tunes in 2010, and added the "new" set of 52 more tunes in 2016. The New 52 were chosen based on your suggestions from the prior 4 years of FH surveys. Some of these 104 common tunes will be taught in workshops in November, and will likely show up in jams. These tunes are all listed here. We just call them the "Common Tune List" or "CTL" these days, without distinguishing which of the two lists tunes come from.
You can order an instructional 2-CD set of the 52 original Fiddle Hell common tunes, played both up-to-speed and slowly by the Reiner Family Band. Volume 1 is only $15 postpaid (within the US) in our online Store.
In 2017, the Reiner Family Band (and several talented friends) recorded a 2-CD set of the 52 new common tunes, played fast and slow. Volume 2 is also only $15 postpaid (within the US) in our online Store.
Fiddle Hell Online and the Fiddle Hell Massachusetts Festival are run by the Fiddle Hell Massachusetts LLC. Our events are loosely sponsored online by the Fiddle and Alternative Strings Forum and the Fiddle Hangout. At these websites, you'll find discussions, event listings, and other resources; you can join for free and read about past and future Fiddle Hell meetings.
Our usual sponsors, D'Addario and CodaBow, will not be doing giveaways in April. You can read more about them in the Exhibitor Gallery once you're registered.
We're working closely with Maine Fiddle Camp, Ashokan Camps, Northeast Heritage Music Camp, Creative Strings Workshop, Strings Without Boundaries, New England Folk Festival (NEFFA), Fiddleheads, and Rustic Roots Camp on cross-promotion and best practices for online teaching.
Thanks to Jenna Moynihan, Fiddle Hell Instructor, for the photo!