Mike Block String Camp 2019

The 2019 Edition of MBSC

The week of the Mike Block String Camp is July 8 to 13, at Vero Beach, Florida, just where it was held last year. And I was there then. I hope to go again. Now that I have some understanding of what it is like, the stress factors may be different. Maybe it will be even more enjoyable than before.

Darol Anger leads his students in Dragon Ship #13

Many of the faculty are returning. Darol Anger is featured as the prominent fiddler and coach that he is. Kimber Ludiker, bluegrass wizard is returning for intense fiddle moments. Hanneke Cassel, Scottish fiddler will be doing more of her extraordinary presentations to learners. Taylor Morris and Lauren who shared their enormous insight into playing the fiddle with me on a one on one session will there. Also Zach Brock, jazz violinist, who did a one man concert on solo fiddle that was over the top. Colin Cotter is a fiddler I’m less acquainted with, although I did join in a session that he led in a masterful way. Trina Basu and Arun Ramamurthy have an unique approach to playing, and are returning. Mazz Swift is a new instructor for the camp. On other instruments Joe Walsh, mandolinist and arranger, will be back. Of course Mike Block is there to play cello and do many other things. Also on cello is Mellissa Brun, from last year, and Natalie Haas, who has been there before, but not last year.

Learning to Be an Attendee

Last year when I applied, I did not know enough about what I wanted to request any particular teachers. So I left it to the discretion of the organizers. That paid off well for me, as I was leaning towards a certain aspect of back up fiddling that I wanted to ask Lauren Rioux about, and Taylor Morris shared with me his genius way of perfecting his intonation. It was all good. This year I will request particular teachers. Since I have finally accepted the Scottish element of living next to Dunedin, I started playing strathspeys. And, likewise, tunes from Hanneke Cassell. The second and third choices are still being sifted.

I had the opportunity to perform onstage four times during the week. I had the best experience when I played in Darol Anger’s group. I’m including the video of that piece in my post. He had a way of making each musician feel confident about what they were doing. He brought out the best from all of us in the improv part. He has been such a significant part of the development of fiddle music over the past recent decades. And what he does now shows the high level of musicianship he has reached.

Learning By Ear and by Arrangement

Just a reminder, the stated intention of the Mike Block String Camp is to develop learning by ear. The unstated intention is to share solid ideas about arranging for playing in a band. I suspect that’s what we all want to do, play in a band. Preferably a band that has harmonious relationships on the emotional and social level, too. 

If you think, even for a moment, that you would like to take your interest in these skill elements further, here is the link to the enrollment form. Of course I recommend it. I’m talking it up locally with my students and colleagues. For some the investment may be an issue. But, where there is a will there’s a way.

I believe that I routinely watch many fiddle videos on YouTube. Many styles, many bands, many fiddlers. It has slowly come to my notice that the only performers that are creating that magnetic sound of stringed instruments playing together and finding new ways of expression, are the faculty and students from the Mike Block String Camp. There’s something happening there. I don’t know if it’s happening anywhere else, but I certainly hope so.

Getting to Eat in Between Playing

By the way, meals are provided. They were much better than I expected. Especially going as a vegetarian, (I go everywhere that way), and my spouse Alison being vegan. We were treated very well by the kitchen staff. As it happens, this year I still like to eat, so I’m looking forward to that, too.

Last year I did not stay at the Holiday Inn Oceanside, the recommended lodging. I found a Bed and Breakfast that seemed like a good choice. It turned out not to be such a good choice. First, there was no breakfast. No great loss. I ate at the venue with everyone else. Second, I was told not to play my fiddle in the room. This was a penalty for me doing my home work to work on and prepare the new tunes. Well, that won’t happen again. Hope to see you there.

The page to start the enrollment process is here.

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