Hilde Kirkebøen began learning hardingfele from the renowned Jens
Myro when she was 10 years old. She’s also learned much from other traditional
fiddlers. Hilde specializes in playing for dance. She’s a regular kappleik
participant. This will be her third US visit.
Flyers are available at SF area Scand. dance classes. Out of area folks and those currently not attending classes may contact any of the following people for info: Brooke Babcock: <forbrooke@ juno.com>, (415) 334-3455; Nobi Kurotori: <firstname.lastname@example.org>, (650) 851-7077; Jane & Frank Tripi: <fjtripi@ juno.com>, (510) 654-3636; or Mary Korn & Mark Wegner: <email@example.com>, (510) 527-9209. Information and applications are also available on the NCS website at <members.aol.com/jglittle/ncs.html>. The full package for both dancers and fiddlers costs $80. Checks should be made to “Scandia Festival” and sent with a completed application to Mary Korn, 16 Eldridge Ct., Kensington, CA 94707. Fiddlers should mail theirs to Fred Bialy, 1925 Hudson St., El Cerrito, CA 94530. Part time registration is available for fiddlers. Contact Fred B. for informationat <FredBialy@aol.com> or (510) 215-5974. Fiddle teaching will be at sonic and supersonic levels. Email contacts are preferred; if you phone, please remember that all live in the Pacific Standard Time zone.
Björn Ståbi, whose family is from Orsa in Dalarna, is one of the top folk fiddlers and teachers in Sweden today. He first learned to play fiddle from his father Erik, who had moved to Stockholm from Orsa. Also among his early fiddle teachers, and a great source of inspiration for him, was the great Orsa fiddler Gössa Anders Andersson (1878 - 1963). Björn has made many recordings with other noted fiddlers, as well as a solo recording, "Orsalåtar," released in 1997. In 1986 he received the most prestigious award of Swedish folk music, the Zorn Gold Medal - for "his awareness of tradition and his masterly performance of Swedish folk music, in particular the heritage from Orsa." He is both artist and musician by profession. He made a previous visit to Scandia Festival in February 1993 with Roger Tallroth.
Our other music teacher will be Rättvik fiddler Anders Bjernulf. Many of us remember him from his San Francisco sojourn in 1996. He has studied with two of the greatest of Rättvik area fiddlers, Påhl Olle, who died in 1987, and Pers Hans Olsson, who was our guest teacher last February. He plays music from eastern Dalarna, and has specialized in the music of Bingsjö, a village in eastern Rättvik near its border with Hälsingland. He learned many of his Bingsjö tunes from Påhl Olle. He's also studied with Bingsjö fiddler Pekkos Gustaf. Anders became Riksspelman in 1987 on Bingsjö tunes. He's become a respected fiddle teacher in Sweden, and has a newly released CD entitled “Bingsjö.” §
Yes, it’s that time of year again, when thoughts turn to gifts and taxes. And memberships in various organizations. Please look over the Questionaire inside the back cover to make sure your address information is up to date. While you’re at it, think about what you’d like to see the organization do for you, and what you might do for us. Sometimes it takes awhile to organize events, but your suggestions are all considered, and often acted upon.
Last but not least - don’t forget to donate. We still have not reached our goal of paying for the newsletter by donations; we’d like to keep it free to all who’d like to receive one. §
The Northern California Spelmanslag’s Annual Report , which has, in the past, been published in the hard copy of this newsletter, will instead be posted on the spelmanslag webpage at: <members.aol.com/jglittle/ncs.html>. This report includes the organization’s statement of purpose, a description of our member groups, a list of officers and how to contact them, the year’s financial statement, and a list of the year’s activities. The Northern California Spelmanslag was founded in 1990. This newsletter goes nationwide; the spelmanslag itself serves primarily those in the San Francisco Bay Area and northern California who are interested in Scandinavian Music and Dance. §
Next summer’s Scandia Camp Mendocino, June 15 - 22, 2002, will feature Inger and Göran Karlholm from Jämtland, Sweden. The Karlholms are the foremost researchers and teachers of dance from Jämtland, Härjedalen, Medelpad, Ångermanland, Hälsingland and Östergötland, having researched a total of 80 different dances from these regions. Göran, born in Östergötland, moved to Oviken to teach school, where he eventually became headmaster. Inger, born in Ragunda, met Göran when she went to a folk dance course to teach children in Östersund. The Karlholms are both active with Svenska Ungdomsringen, where they have earned gold medals for their dance research. They have published a number of books of dance descriptions and background information, including some that they bind themselves. This will be their 4th visit to Scandia Camp Mendocino.
Accompanying the Karlholms will be fiddlers Gunnar Jonsson and Ola Rörborn, who will play for the dance teaching and also give music lessons. Gunnar, born in 1959, has accompanied the Karlholms on most of their teaching trips to the US. He has learned much of his dance music in tradition from older fiddlers. Gunnar is also a classically trained violinist and professional violin teacher. He is very easy to learn tunes from. He’s been featured on several records which are widely used by folk dancers for dances of Jämtland and Härjedalen. He also played for 15 years for the annual Polska Medal testing in Sweden. Ola, born in 1964, has been involved with folk music, playing violin since 1975. Inspired by Alfred Rönnqvist, Ola also has a special interest in the music from the 1800's and the legendary Lapp Nils (1804-1870). Ola is working towards becoming a "riksspelman" and received a bronze medal in 2000. He is the 16th generation (the first generation born in 1460), to live on the farm Lillsved, about 60 km south of Östersund, and works for the Swedish Federation of Farmers. Ola has written 3 notebooks with tunes from local fiddlers, is a member of the Östersund Spelmanslag and plays on several CDs from Jämtland.
Nobi Kurotori and Roo Lester will teach dances from Telemark, and, as they have for many years, review dances taught previously at camp. Both have studied dance in Norway and Sweden and both teach regularly in the US. Roo and Nobi have a positive, clear teaching style with attention to detail and a fun, lighthearted manner.
Alf Tveit will be on hand to play for the Telemark dance teaching and to teach hardingfele to the inter-mediate and advanced players. Alf was born in Sauherad, Telemark. He began hardingfele lessons as a boy with the famous player Kristiane Lund in Bø, Telemark. He’s also studied with other East Telemark Fiddlers including Olav Evju. Alf won the Landskappleik (national competition) in 1992 and 1998. He teaches the fiddlers’ group Sullarguten in Dalen, where he resides.
Loretta Kelley will teach beginning hardingfele players and play for evening parties. As a result of her numerous trips to Norway to study with hardingfele masters, Loretta has become one of America's premiere hardingfele players. She brings understanding of Norwegian music to dancers and musicians alike. Loretta has taught and performed extensively through-out the US, including Scandinavian Week and at the HFAA. She has produced two excellent recordings of her playing, Amerikaspel in 1996 and Dansekveld in 1990.
Plans are being made to have a Swedish nyckelharpa teacher at Scandia Camp Mendocino in 2002. Arrangements are yet to be finalized.
Rounding out the music staff will be Sarah Kirton and Peter Michaelsen. Sarah will assist the newer musicians on Swedish fiddle and play at the evening dance parties. Sarah lives in the San Francisco Bay Area where she teaches both fiddle and hardingfele. She has a special interest in the music of Southern Sweden, Jämtland, and Valdres. She has spent over a year in Norway studying Valdres hardingfele tradition, and has also studied in Sweden. Peter is an accomplished folk musician and Scandinavian fiddler from Seattle who has studied extensively in Sweden. He will lead after-noon practice sessions and our nightly allspel. His powerful style, broad repertoire and dance experience inspires musicians and dancers alike.
Scandia Camp Mendocino takes place in a lovely redwood forest about 11 miles inland from the town of Mendocino, California. The days are filled with dance, music, and culture sessions; the evenings are party time. Accommodations are rustic wooden cabins in the forest and the food is delicious. Tentative fees are: $525 per Dancer, $525 per Musician, $300 per Work Scholarship (8 available). Deposits: Send $150.00 per person with the application form. All deposits received by January 5, 2002 will receive equal consideration. To avoid being placed on the waiting list, send your deposit early. Final payments will be due May 1, 2002. Include an additional $50.00 for payments postmarked after May 1st. Scandia Camp Mendocino offers five $50.00 registration discounts to participants attending for the first time. All registrations received by January 5th, 2002 will be put into a drawing for the discounts. Winners will be notified. For more information and to get on the mailing list for applications, write to: Scandia Camp Mendocino, 393 Gravatt Drive, Berkeley, CA 94705 or contact Roo Lester: <DancingRoo@ aol.com> or (630) 920-0159 [Central time zone]. An application form is also available on the NCS web page.§
by Sarah Kirton
This month I'd like to focus on some good playing and practice habits.
I've mentioned that I believe learning to play is in large part a matter
of building muscle memory and mental focus - exactly as an athlete does.
It's only after your muscles can perform their functions without much conscious
direction on your part that you can begin to concentrate on making music
instead of on the mechanics of making more (or less) musical noise.
So - always hold the fiddle and bow in the same way - and make sure it's the (or rather "a") right way. This is not to say that the way you hold your in-strument won't change over time, it will, and probably should. But each time you make a change you'll face the challenge of adjusting to the new position(s). What I'm talking about when I say to hold it the same way each day is - don't slouch sloppily just because nobody's watching or because you're tired. Keep your left wrist out away from the neck of the fiddle, make sure your left hand and thumb are always at the same place on the neck - don't let them creep up. Hold your bow with the thumb bent. Don't let your right elbow droop. Enough nagging - I think you get the picture.
Be aware of your posture and of muscle tension which may be developing in your arm(s), shoulders, neck, or back. Don't hunch your shoulders, tense your upper arms, twist your back around, etc. Bad habits of body tension can really haunt you down the line. Slouching because you're tired is actually more tiring than holding the fiddle properly. Try relaxing into or settling into good posture, rather than forcing yourself into it and then tensing to keep it.
NEVER play sloppily, even to remind yourself or someone else of how a tune goes. To do that, play softly, or perhaps quickly, but be just as aware of the tune's timing and the flow of the music as if you were playing it "for real."
This leads on to another subject - mental practice habits. I had a teacher once who said that if I played something five times wrong before I finally got something right, I should then play it at least six times correctly. Otherwise I'd practiced it more times wrong than right, and guess what I'd just trained my muscles and ears to do! I think this can be taken to extremes - it's only necessary to practice enough times correctly that the correct pattern is what your muscles and ears carry away from your practice session. Be careful not to practice something to the point of meaninglessness or beyond. If you don't understand quite what I'm talking about, try saying "toy boat" over and over quickly - it quickly becomes (at least for me) meaningless, as well as quite a tongue-twister. I've met bowing and finger patterns that become "muscle, finger-, and mind-twisters" if repeated too often or too quickly. It usually seems best to play the problem passage correctly enough times to get it into your mind and muscles, play it a few times in the larger context or the tune or the reprise, go on to something else for awhile, and then come back to it.
If you're having problems with an entire tune or with a large part of
a tune, (well, it might be too hard for your level - but that doesn't
mean that practice won't make it better) play the scale and arpeggios
of the key the tune is in. If you don't know what key it is, the last
note of the tune is usually the same as the key. Start on that note and
just go up the scale. Sometimes the different reprises of a tune are in
different keys - in this case, check the last note of each reprise. Once
in a while a tune/reprise doesn't end on the tonic (key-name) note. If
the scale you play starting on the ending note seems to have nothing to
do with the tune/reprise - this is probably the case. If that's so, try
playing the tune/reprise a few times, then sing or play the first scale
that comes into your head. Often this will be the right key. If this fails,
you'll need to figure out the key signature - how many sharps and flats the
tune has - and consult your memory of key signatures, or a book or cheat
sheet to figure out the key. Remember that tunes come in major and minor
keys, as well as a variety of modes. (Perhaps I should write about keys
and modes next time??)
While one usually has to practice a problem place by itself to get it right - or at least better, there are also times one can play it just fine without the rest of the tune. Then when you try to put it into place, the problem section puts you in your place instead! Sometimes one one can always play the place ok, but can't get it to fit easily into the rest of the tune. Other times one has to practice to get to this point. Either way, this usually means the transition or lead-in to the problem place is a part of the problem. I've found it's often a LARGE part of the problem. Start a few notes or measures before the problem place and play through the problem area. Notice a few things - what part of the bow are you in before the problem and where do you need to be during the problem passage? Up-bow or down? What about the left hand fingers - do they sud-denly start flailing? Maybe you need to prepare them ahead of time - this is where keeping your fingers hovering above the fingerboard all the times proves its value. What about your mind?? Is it lost or surprised when you get there? Are you prepared mentally for the turns the tune takes at that point? A large part of most playing problems are at least partially (if not wholly) mental in origin, and can be solved by mental tricks and focus. Maybe there's an awkward fingering or bowing at that point - prepare yourself for it both mentally and physically. Or perhaps it's not the lead-in to the passage, but what follows it ! I've not noticed this hap-pening often with people, but once in a while someone messes up because of "panic" about what comes just after the problem passage. The problem is that instead of paying (at least some) atten-tion to what you're doing "now," one places all one's attention on panicking about what's coming. Folks sometimes worry so much about what's coming next that they start rushing just to get there! Then they not only mess up the difficult passage, they also mess up the easy part just before. Again - practice the transition until it comes smoothly and you don't have to panic about it. The two most important keys for getting through any difficult place are making sure (1) your muscles know what to do when you get there, and (2) your mind is prepared for it. When your muscles and mind are both trained to the point that you can play through the passage to the best of your current technique level, you've done well. Work outward from the problem place, start farther and farther before the passage, play through it, and end farther and farther beyond it.
Loretta Kelley taught me (and many others, I know) a valuable practice trick in conquering any problem passage. Just follow this simple series of steps:
1) Identify the beginning of the problem area.
2) Start a bit before the problem and play.
3) Just before the 1st note of the problem, freeze motion a moment or two, think about what comes next.
4) Continue playing at a speed slow enough to get the problem area played.
5) Repeat steps 1 through 4 as many times as necessary - the pause before the problem (step 3) should become shorter and shorter until both the pause and the problem finally disappear.
This doesn't usually require any fancy analysis of what's causing the problem, and always seems to work. Thinking about what comes next during the pause can mean singing through the tune in your mind, mentally rehearsing the bow strokes, or preparing for that awkward fingering. It always means focusing your mind on the here and now. Often focusing is all that's necessary.
Lastly - play everything like you mean it - no matter how unsure you are. Sometimes just doing this solves a problem - probably because playing like you mean it focuses you on the music instead of on your worry.
Happy playing, and Happy Holidays! §
- by Fred Bialy
Many of you who have attended Scandia Camp Mendocino may remember past efforts to prevent logging of forest lands adjacent to the Mendocino Woodlands. The Mendocino Woodlands itself has been protected from logging since 1976 when it was transferred to the management of the California Department of State Parks and Recreation. At the same time, much of the land surrounding the Woodlands was designated a Special Treatment Area (STA) and placed under the management of the California Department of Forestry (CDF).
The hillsides looking down on the Mendocino Woodlands and many of the hiking trails used by visitors to the Woodlands are located in the STA. Although the STA has not been subjected to much logging over the years, the risk of logging activities up to the border of the Mendocino Woodlands is increasing. It has been a goal of the Mendocino Woodlands Camp Association (MWCA - which manages the Woodlands) to have the STA reintegrated into the Mendocino Woodlands, thereby protecting the STA from future logging and preserving the peace and beauty of the Woodlands. The Mendocino Woodlands Camp Association and all of us that use the camp and its grounds have a rare opportunity to be a part of something quite extraordinary that will help accomplish this goal.
For the first time in many years, the forested land immediately south of the Mendocino Woodlands (not part of the STA), comprising the Big River estuary and its watershed, is owned by a private timber company which is interested in selling the land in order to turn it into a State Park. The Little North Fork of Big River flows through the middle of the Mendocino Woodlands and provides for a multitude of recreation, education and wildlife uses. Over the years, through diligence and hard work, the Little North Fork has made a major recovery as a spawning ground for coho salmon and steelhead.
This land comprising the Big River estuary and its watershed is presently in escrow for a purchase price of $26 million. $20 million is to be secured in public funds from various state agencies ($13 million of that is already committed to the project). The remaining $6 million must be acquired from the private sector. So far, $3.4 million of this $6 million has been raised with a balance of only $2.6 million to go. The deadline for raising this money is December 31, 2001. The Save Big River Project is a fund raising campaign targeted at raising this last $2.6 million. The support and enthusiasm for this endeavor has been outstanding; virtually every person, agency and group that has seen the estuary agrees that this has to happen.
The Mendocino Woodlands Camp Association is organizing a fund raising drive through The Friends of Woodlands fund to contribute to the Save Big River Project. $12,000 from the Friends of the Woodlands fund has already been promised to this campaign. Additional money would be a great help. If we all pull together we can make this happen. Please give what you can to save and protect this natural treasure.
If making a donation by check, make it payable to “Friends of the Woodlands”
and specify "Big River Fund" in the check’s "for" area. Checks should be
sent to Friends of the Woodlands, PO Box 267, Mendocino, CA 95460. If
you wish to use a credit card, please call Don Taylor, Executive Director
of the Mendocino Woodlands Camp Association, at (707) 964-7944. All donations
must be received before December 31. More information can be obtained at
the MWCA web site: < www.Mendocino
The Northern California Spelmanslag:
Nordahl Grieg Leikarring & Spelemannslag
The American Nyckelharpa Association:
Bruce Sagan’s Scandinavian Web Site:
The Hardangar Fiddle Association of America
The Skandia Folkdance Society (Seattle):
We Americans like to plan our trips to Scandinavia in good time -
after all, we have to intermesh our vacation leave with our work calendars.
But arrangements for Scandinavian music and dance events are often not
finalized and posted until quite late in the spring. Sometimes details
are not posted until early or mid summer.
You can get a good idea, though, of what’s going on by looking at the NCS event calendar for the previous year. We don’t keep each newsletter’s version of the calendar on our webpage. Instead we update a single calendar as we receive information. But we leave the old information about recurring events up on our calendar until new information comes in. So, by looking at our calendar for Scandinavia, you can see what happened last year and use it as a basis for planning your trip. If something took place the 2nd weekend of July in 2001, you can be pretty sure it will be at the same time in 2002.
Usually the old webpage address is the place to keep checking for the 2002 information, the festival office address and email address will still be good. Information on accommodations is usually available from the tourist information office/webpages for the town or area hosting the event. Do a webpage search on the area, and select pages giving tourist information. On turist info pages in Norwegian, Swedish or Danish look for the word “Overnatting” (this is Norwegian) or some variation on this. More and more information is offered in English - one often must click on the British flag for an English translation of the page.
There are a few exceptions to this, however.
Often, the office for a particular festival is not manned until a week or so before the event, so the festival office phone number may or may not get you what you want. Also, phone numbers given are often the private numbers of whoever was in charge that particular year. It may be a different person this year. Be aware that, if you call, the person on the other end of the phone may not be the person you need to talk to, and that if the festival committee hasn't started meeting for the summer 2002 season, details other than dates may not yet be decided. If a “mobil fon” number is given, please be aware that the recipient of the call is charged a fee for any out of country call received on their mobile (cell) phone. (The last time I was there, calls from within the country were free to mobile phone users.)
Events which appear to be the 4th weekend of a month may actually be scheduled for the last weekend of a month, whether it starts on a 4th Sat. or a 5th Sat.
The Norwegian Landskappleik moves from place to place each year. Each year it has a different webpage address, email and snail mail addresses, and different phone numbers. The landskappleik is run by the dancers- and musicians organization of its host area, and they may get information out in January or not till late April. It really varies. The addresses for Landskappleik for the next summer are given on the Landslaget for Spelemenn’s webpage: <www.folkemusikk.no> when this info becomes available. §
If you haven't investigated the NCS webpage at <members.aol.com/jglittle/ncs.html>,
you really ought to check it out. We maintain it for our members and
others interested in Scandinavian dance and selected cultural activities
in Northern California. We also list information about events in other
areas of the US and Scandinavia which we feel will be of interest to our
community. On our webpage you can find:
(The "boring" stuff)
• current and past issues of this newsletter,
• Information about the NCS and its purpose,
• Annual Reports - required for all California non-profit organizations,
• a list of our Organizational Affiliations
(The practical stuff)
• list of NCS officers and board members, and how to contact them,
(How to get NCS sponsorship for an event)
• The NCS Board Guidelines for Discussions and Decisions,
• The NCS Board Guidelines for Proposals for Events,
• a Calendar of events for Northern California, the US, and Scandinavia - this calendar is updated as information arrives
• a list of web-links to webpages in the US and Scandinavia. These link-to pages are packed with useful information for planning trips, learning new music or dances, or finding out about Scandinavian culture and customs.
Scandia Festival, February 16 - 18, 2002
Hermann Sons Hall, 860 Western Avenue, Peteluma, CA
Teaching Hallingspringar Knut & Astrid Skrindo with hardingfele player Hilde Kirkebøen
Fiddlers Anders Bjernulf & Björn Ståbi teaching music of Dalarna, Sweden
Weekend includes: Dance workshops Sat. & Sun., Fiddle workshops Sat. & Sun., Dance Parties Fri., Sat. & Sun. (open to all), Sat. & Sun. lunch
Dance workshop participants must preregister.
Part time registration is available for fiddle workshops. Musicians: contact Fred Bialy for any special requests.
See article, page 1, for all those practical & boring registration details!
Scandiadans Christmas Party
Thursday, December 27, 2001. $3, 7 - 10 pm,
Oakland Nature Friends, 3115 Butters Dr., Oakland CA
Live & recorded music
Directions: take Hwy 13 to Joaquin Miller Rd, east 2 blks , rt onto Butters Dr., driveway is to rt after 0.4 mi
Contact: Jane or Frank Tripi (510) 654 - 3636 email: <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Scandia Camp Mendocino
June 15 - 22, 2002
Dance teachers Inger & Göran Karlholm from Jämtland, Sweden
with Jämtish fiddlers Gunnar Jonsson and Ola Rörborn
& Telemark, Norway’s Alf Tveit - hardingfele
American Staff includes dance teachers Nobi Kurotori & Roo Lester teaching Tele-dances
& musicians Loretta Kelley - hardingfele, Sarah Kirton - helping newer musicians, Peter Michaelsen - allspel leader
a Nyckelharpa teacher - to be announced
see article, page 2 for all those practical & boring registration details!
Northern California Spelmanslag has cooperated with visiting musicians in producing a series of cassette tapes of Swedish and Norwegian music.
* Låtar Från Dalabergslagen (melodies from Dalarna's Mining District) - Brodd Leif Andersson and Matses Eric Köpmans play traditional Swedish fiddle tues from the mining district of southeast Dalarna. $12 Sold Out
* Swedish Folk Fiddling - Hans Röjas and Gregor Siljebo play traditional Swedish fiddle tunes from Eastern Dalarna and Västerbotten plus some of their own compositions. $12 (2 left!)
* Kasseten - Låtta frå Hallingdal - Egil Syverbråten and Harold B. Knutsen play traditional Hallingdal tunes on Norwegian Hardanger fiddle. $11 (1 left!)
* I Västerled - Anders Rosén (fiddle) and Harald Pettersson (accordion, säckpipa, and hurdy-gurdy) play traditional Swedish tunes from Western Dalarna plus 2 compositions on hurdy-gurdy. This recording was also released in Sweden, where it won a prize. $12 (Plenty left)
* I Brekkentakt - Magne Haugom and Tron Westberg play traditional fiddle tunes from Brekken, a town near Røros in Norway. $11 (1 left!)
To order contact Fred Bialy, (510) 215-5974 or e-mail FredBialy@aol.com
Shipping and Handling:1 cassette $1.50, 2-4 cassettes $2.50, 5-9 cassettes $3.25, 10-29 cassettes $4.00, 30+ cassettes $5.00
A (somewhat) more detailed and up-to-date calendar can be found on the NCS Webpage at
Web and Newsletter calendar submissions should be sent to Jim Little at 321 McKendry, Menlo Park, CA, 94025, email: <email@example.com>, phone: (650) 323-2256 or Sarah Kirton at 330 Sierra Vista Ave. #1, Mt. View, CA, 94043, email: <firstname.lastname@example.org>, phone: (650) 968-3126.
The web page calendar is updated when new material is received. §