Welcome to Peter Rolland's website
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About Camp, History

ABOUT CAMP INSTRUCTION

Our goal is to help you to significantly improve your fiddling and to have a great time at camp.  We will do this by:

  • Teaching a variety of tunes in multiple styles. 
  • Honoring tradition by teaching some gems from early recorded fiddle history true to the recordings.  "To see farther than other people, stand on the shoulders of giants."
  • Teaching tunes thoroughly so that you really know them.  This means not only learning the notes, but also learning how to duplicate the sound and feel of the tunes.  
  • Teaching some material by ear but also providing transcriptions and recordings to help you learn and retain new material.  The same method does not work for all students and all tunes, so we will be flexible in approach in order to meet the needs of the participants.
  • Teaching specialized bowing techniques for fiddling, including slurring patterns, pressure dynamics appropriate to specific tunes and styles, and rhythmic bow patterns that help create a dance-able groove, and rhythmic accompaniments such as "chopping".
  • Teaching a variety of left-hand techniques, including double stops, drones, slides, embellishing melodies with chords, playing harmony, playing backup chords, transposing finger patterns to different keys, and playing in 2nd and 3rd position.
  • Teaching fiddling skills specific to old-time, country, bluegrass, western swing, blues, contest fiddling and other musical styles (depending on students' interests).
  • Providing instruction in cross-tuned fiddling, music theory for fiddling, and improvising.
  • Addressing your playing issues and improving tone, intonation, fundamentals of bow movement, bow grip, violin hold, stance, economy and freedom of movement, playing relaxed, and eliminating unnecessary tension.
  • Providing group instruction, 1-on-1 coaching and the "master-class" approach to teaching.
  • Providing training for string teachers attending camp in how to incorporate fiddling into their classrooms and teaching studios and in how to convey the real sound of fiddling.
  • Providing training for string teachers attending camp in Paul Rolland string pedagogy methods taught by his students.
  • Devoting time each day to playing in groups, including the camp "folk orchestra" in which the teachers and students of all skill levels play together.  Players will learn parts appropriate to their skill level.  Music and recordings for the camp "folk orchestra" will be sent to students prior to camp.  Students who bring other instruments (for example, guitar or mandolin) to camp can choose to play them in the camp "folk orchestra".
  • Assigning you to a core teacher for morning lessons according to your playing level and interests.
  • Providing a curriculum appropriate to your playing level and interests.

FUN STUFF

  • Free time following afternoon workshops; walk about the charming historical mining towns of Westcliffe & Silver Cliff, take a drive in the mountains, fish, swim, billiards, bowling, basketball, etc.......and practice!......and jamming!
  • Singing workshop; learn lyrics to fiddle tunes, cool songs and vocal harmony
  • In the evening there will be performances by teachers, students, and dancing to live music....and more jamming.

HISTORY

Peter caught fiddle fever while pursuing a doctorate in mathematics in New York City in the late 1960s.  In the 1970s Peter moved to Arizona and settled in Tucson to write his PhD dissertation.  He joined a professional bluegrass band and began studying fiddling in earnest.  In addition to giving private lessons, he developed a classroom approach to teaching by following the example of his father Paul Rolland, a renowned violin pedagogue, chairman of the string department at the University of Illinois, and a founder and president of the American String Teacher's Association.  The University of Arizona Department of Music sponsored Peter's classes in fiddling, bluegrass and folk orchestra.  His friends and band mates helped him produce a book and recording on fiddling to use in conjunction with lessons.  A director of a chamber orchestra asked Peter to write music for a performance with the orchestra, so Peter learned the basics of orchestration and eventually produced scores and parts for the event.  This proved to be a great learning experience and laid the foundation for Peter's published written arrangements of fiddle music for school orchestra in the following decades.  In the late '70s, a great opportunity for research into fiddling came in the form of a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to study fiddling with traditional fiddling masters Leslie Keith (he was the composer of many tunes including what's now known as The Black Mountain Rag, as well as the original fiddler for Ralph and Carter Stanley) and New Brunswick fiddler Clarence Langen.  This wonderful opportunity to learn extensively from these two elderly master fiddlers made such an impression on Peter that he obtained further grants from the Arizona Commission on the Arts to collect repertoires and musical biographies of a dozen more elderly Arizona fiddlers.  He organized some of the collected music into a weeklong summer course for music teachers entitled "What Every Music Educator Needs To Know About Fiddle Music".  He taught this course at the University of New Mexico, San Jose State, the University of Arizona, and the University of Oregon. 

This is where the story takes an unexpected turn.  Peter fell in love with Gail Bergstrom, one of the string teachers attending his course at the University of Arizona, and 10 months later in April 1979 they got married.  The two teachers started thinking about holding a summer fiddle camp and scouted locations in Arizona and Colorado.  Peter's father Paul was the organizer of the very successful International String Workshop which met at different locations in America and Europe each summer, so holding a fiddle camp seemed like a natural extension of that idea into the fiddling genre.  But their plans to host a camp were moved to the back burner while they raised children and held down multiple jobs to pay the bills.  Eden, Michael, Matthew and Grace grew up with mom and dad performing music frequently, so as they grew older they naturally gravitated toward fiddle and folk music.  When the kids developed sufficient skill to perform in public, the family formed a band and performed for years at concert venues around Arizona.  The boys wanted to compete at Weiser, Idaho, home of the national fiddling championships, so for several years the family made the long trek from their Arizona home to attend the fiddling competitions in Weiser.  That event is certainly one of the biggest, if not the biggest, fiddle parties in the world.  Peter judged several years at Weiser and often gave fiddle workshops up there.  One of those workshops led to an invitation to teach at the original Shasta Fiddle Camp near Redding, California.  For three years members of the family attended the fiddle camp while Peter taught there.  The kids liked the camp experience and over the years attended several different fiddle camps around the country.  By the time the kids graduated from college, they had distinguished themselves in state and national music competitions and became professional entertainers, bandleaders and songwriters.  We have all embraced the notion that we will hold a fiddle camp in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains near Westcliffe, Colorado where Peter spent all his summers as a boy. We are excited about holding camp, and we very much look forward to sharing our knowledge and the joy of fiddling.

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