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Fiddle Playing for Morris – a workshop by Sarah Matthews

Review of the online workshop on Fiddle Playing for Morris, given by Sarah Matthews on 14th March 2021.

Pete Howarth writes:

“I first came across Sarah when she led a fiddle workshop at Whitby when I was a raw beginner to the fiddle, so when I saw this one advertised, I knew that I wouldn’t be disappointed.

Sarah Matthews“My own background is that I dance Border and play for a North West side. I actually only took up fiddle as a ‘plan B’ for when my knees give up dancing Border! I would now put my fiddle skills at ‘intermediate’ level. I play by ear, so I was hoping that the workshop wasn’t too dependent on reading the dots. I needn’t have worried.

“Sarah certainly comes across as enthusiastic. I knew that she was a talented player, but what also came across in her workshop was her deep knowledge of Morris styles from a musical perspective, and her enthusiasm for all styles of Morris.

“Two tunes were used, Orange in Bloom, predominantly for Cotswold, but demonstrated by modifying bowing pattern and speed to be adaptable for most other styles, and Cuckoo’s Nest, predominantly for Border. Musical scores were provided (by the Zoom “share screen” function, but as both tunes were familiar to “play by ear pub session” musicians (I guess most Morris musicians fall in both categories), the demonstration tunes were well selected.

“The length of the workshop was just right, but as an intermediate player, I was finding that I wanted more, and perhaps focussed on my own interests in North West and Border. Selfish, perhaps, but Sarah’s knowledge, playing skills and enthusiasm certainly made me wish I lived a little closer to her home area. But then, I’d probably be spending a small fortune on one to one lessons.

“When the world is back to ‘normal’ and we’re back at festivals, perhaps Sarah might consider a series of similar workshops, perhaps each focussed on a different style of Morris. I’m sure that they would be well subscribed.

review by Pete Howarth, a member of Rivington Morris and Stone the Crows Border Morris 

Donations from participants raised money for an educational bursary being set up in honour of Derbyshire’s Mick Peat for young folk musicians in the Derby area.

For more about Sarah Matthews, see:

– Sarah:

– Doug Eunson and Sarah as a duo:

– Intarsia with Jo May:

– CDs that Sarah has made:

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