Friday Fiddle Jams
During the school year, the Aurora Fiddle Society hosts a bi-weekly Friday Fiddle Jam in Yellowknife. Fiddlers of all ages and skill levels, accompanists, and friends & family are invited to the Holy Trinity Anglican Church basement to play their favourite fiddle tunes with the rest of the community, as well as learn and pick up some new tunes.
Starting at 7:00pm, all players, especially first-timers and beginners, have a chance to warm up and try out the tunes they’re learning. Then, at 7:30pm, intermediate players bring out their favourites and, at 8:00pm, the intermediate/advanced players kick it up even more with tried-and-true tunes.
Learning with an instructor is one thing; playing in a public setting is a whole different, not to mention vital, experience. Jams have always been a way to not only play favourites and hang out with other musicians, but to learn from the more experienced players and get a feel for the “vibe” of fiddling. To this day, new fiddlers around the world watch, listen and play along with the more advanced players, trying to keep up and learn the tunes.
This very important tradition is sometimes seen as a tough-love method of learning. Beginners frequently miss cues and easily get lost in tunes that are seemingly played too fast, too hard and with too many notes. However, paired with proper home instruction and musical discipline, the jam experience greatly improves any fiddlers skill set. It cultivates courage and strength in playing the fiddle, tunes the ear to pick up patterns and familiar riffs, and fosters a tight fiddling community that shares and grows. Beginners may fall hard and often, but it’s the getting-back-up that’s integral to any fiddler.
Yellowknife is blessed to have a very young, welcoming and forgiving fiddling environment. Even among the advanced players, tunes are treated with care and played at a slower-than-normal rate. It is a wonderful learning community that, like a fine wine, will only get better with age.