Mike Block String Camp

Fiddle Faculty Questions at Mike Block String Camp

This July I will be driving over to Vero Beach to attend the Mike Block String Camp. It starts on the 9th and runs to the 14th, Bastille day! I am seriously pumped about this. The last string camp I attended was the Mark O’Connor event and also one in Texarkana the same month. And that was a seriously long time ago.

Just thinking about it makes me feel like summer is here already. Looking at the faculty, I’m thinking of good questions to ask them. My premise is that I have six days of string camp, and I may have the opportunity to talk with one faculty member a day. Here they are.

Darol Anger
Here is a quote from the MBSC web site: Fiddler, composer, producer and educator, Darol Anger is at home in a number of musical genres, some of which he helped to invent. Exceptional among modern fiddlers for his versatility and depth, Anger has helped drive the evolution of the contemporary string band through his involvement with

Darol Anger, fiddler, composer, raconteur
Darol Anger, fiddler, composer, raconteur

numerous pathbreaking ensembles such as his Republic Of Strings, the Turtle Island String Quartet, the David Grisman Quintet, Montreux, and his Duo with Mike Marshall.

This last one, the Duo with Mike Marshall was featured at the Florida Folk Festival a few years ago. They turned in a great set, very well received. And Darol Anger did a workshop in which he revealed a great teaching technique.

The Call and Response process is intuitive and easy to do with intermediate students, and even beginners who are far enough along to play a few tunes. Similarly, I have also picked up good teaching ideas from his free videos.

My questions for him are: 1. What are some other teaching ideas you like to use? 2. When you are working out new variations on tunes, how do you go about it? 3. You took a Liz Carroll tune, Lost in the Loop and made it sound uniquely like you. How did you do that?

Kimber Ludiker

Kimber Ludiker, fiddler in Della Mae bluegrass band
Kimber Ludiker, fiddler in Della Mae bluegrass band

One of my young students went to see Della Mae, Kimber Ludiker’s bluegrass band. She met the fiddle star and came back wanting to play Road to Columbus, a Bill Monroe tune. To help her with it I learned it and now play it with the Crystal Beach String Band. We will be playing it at White Springs at the end of this week.

I was already aware of Kimber from a YouTube video of East Tennessee Blues. She did a lick that scooped up a few notes from the G string where it was not expected. Very neat trick, and, yes, the notorious lick thief made off with it.

She has won the most prestigious fiddle contests in the country, including Grand National Fiddle Champion, Colorado State Championship, and many others. She plays with a wonderful tone and is very inventive.

My questions for her revolve around playing contest tunes and how to develop them.


Hanneke Cassel

Hanneke Cassel, superb Scottish fiddler
Hanneke Cassel, superb Scottish fiddler

Her fiddling is strongly influenced by Scottish style playing, having won Scottish fiddle contests and even studying with Alasdair Fraser and Buddy MacMaster at the Isle of Skye.

She plays on many YouTube videos. A while back I got a DVD of virtuoso fiddlers that includes her performances.

My question might seem trivial to you . And yet, it’s a hot button issue for me.

“Do you play hornpipes with a swing feel?” (The answer is going to be yes, I’m just about certain.) And the follow up, “How do you feel about hornpipes played as breakdowns, with straight eighths?” I have no idea what her answer might be.


Zach Brock

Zach Brock, amazing jazz violinist
Zach Brock, amazing jazz violinist

“One of the most virtuosic and emotive voices of contemporary jazz violin, Zach Brock has followed a path which embraces not only jazz, but also classical, world, and popular music. From critical acclaim as a bandleader to international exposure in collaborations with Stanley Clarke, Grazyna Auguscik, and Frank Vignola, Zach continues to gain admiration from both jazz purists and music enthusiasts alike.” Quoting the MBSC website again.
I am not so well acquainted with Zack Brock’s playing, aside from YouTube offerings. My questions would be. 1. what do you call the kind of music you prefer playing? Jazz is such a broad category, it has many sub-genres. It’s really a branding question.
And, 2. for students, how do you present the jazz paradigm for the first time?

Trina Basu

Trina Basu, touring fiddler and India trained violinist
Trina Basu, touring fiddler and India trained violinist

This violinist is new to me, but her music is magnetic. It’s strongly influenced by Indian music. Way back in the 60’s I attended a concert in St. Petersburg featuring Ali Akbar Khan. He played the sarod, a fretless stringed instrument and was a total virtuoso.
For a short time I was jamming with a Turkish sitar player who lived in the Greek dominated town of Tarpon Springs. Not the best match, and maybe that was a factor in his moving on. Point is, I love this music and would be playing more of it given the chance.

My question is, how do you present this music to a student for the first time, especially one who is coming from a western tradition?



Lauren Rioux

Lauren Rioux, professional fiddler, violinist and teacher
Lauren Rioux, professional fiddler, violinist and teacher

A great fiddler, she is probably the only fiddler on the faculty who is not touring too much to maintain a strong local teaching facility. “She maintains a very active private studio at her home in Scarborough, through which she teaches a delightfully rowdy group of over thirty violinists, violists, and fiddlers ranging in age from 5 to 70.”
She has toured with Darol Anger and the Republic of Strings, as well as Brittany Haas. I do’t know how mch touring she does, but maybe she’s staying at home.
I would ask about her teaching program, how she maintains it, what PR she publishes, stuff like that.

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