October 25 to 27, 2016
Grades 3 and 4
Pre-show Information for Teachers
A Canadian and international fiddle champion, Shane Cook captivates audiences with technically thrilling and adventurous performances. Noted as one of the “finest fiddlers in the world today,” Cook has distinguished himself as a master of the Canadian old-time fiddle tradition. He also excels at styles ranging from Irish and Scottish to French-Canadian and Bluegrass.
Shane retired from competitive fiddling in 2006 as one of Canada’s most highly awarded fiddlers. He is a three-time Canadian Open National Champion, a three-time Canadian Grand Masters Champion, a Grand North American Champion and the only foreign fiddler to win the US Grand National Championship (at just 17 years of age!).
Questions/ Suggested Discussion Points
1. Shane Cook is a master of the Canadian “old-time” style, as well as Irish, Scottish, Texan, French-Canadian and Bluegrass. Other fiddle styles include Appalachian, Metis, Cajun, Mexican and various European styles. This video by April Verch demonstrates some Canadian fiddle styles.
2. What is the difference between a fiddle and a violin?
“Fiddle” is a generic term for any stringed instrument played with a bow. This instrument group includes the violin and many other instruments.
The main thing that makes a fiddle a fiddle and a violin a violin is the type of music that is played on it. Generally, fiddles are used to play folk or traditional genres which often include an impromptu element (e.g., Cajun , Bluegrass, and traditional Irish and Scottish music), and were originally intended to get the audience dancing and toe-tapping along. Violins are used in composition-based genres (e.g., Western classical music, Indian classical music and jazz).
There are some minor differences in the set-up of fiddles and violins:
- Fiddles tend to have flatter bridges (the bridge is a small piece of wood that lifts the strings off the instrument body), which allows the player to play two and even three notes at a time… a desirable thing in many fiddle genres.
- Fiddles often have steel strings while violins have catgut strings (traditionally made from sheep intestines but which now commonly are synthetic), wrapped (“wound”) with very fine metal.
School Program Coordinator
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This presentation is made possible in part by a grant from the Ontario Arts Council’s Ontario Touring program.