NOVEMBER: The excellent instructors and amazing sessions are now posted, and registration is open!
Early registration enters you in great giveaways, including a fine fiddle, books, lessons - plus free workshops for all.
Click to see the latest email with updates on giveaways & early-bird registration.
Thanks to Joni Lohr for all our wonderful Fiddle Hell photography!
To keep us safe, we reimagined Fiddle Hell as an online festival and music camp in November, 2020. It was an exciting new way for our music community to reconnect during the pandemic. 35 concerts, 35 jams and 165 workshops were all live, with video replays for the next 3 months. Although we missed seeing our musical friends face-to-face, and jamming with them in the hallways, we had front-row seats for every virtual session, and were joined by new attendees and instructors from around the world!
We had such a good time that we ran a second Fiddle Hell Online on April 15-18, 2021!
And now Fiddle Hell Online is happening for the third time on November 4-7, 2021! We have many new instructors and almost all new sessions. The November FHO will have 175 live workshops to learn from, 35 live concerts to enjoy, and 35 live jam sessions to join on Zoom, for fiddle, mandolin, cello, guitar, old-time banjo, & singing. Other instruments and listeners are welcome, too. All sessions can be replayed (and slowed down) for the next FOUR months (until March 8, 2022). Fiddle Hell instructors -- experienced & supportive teachers, and wonderful & inspiring players -- will cover Bluegrass, Blues, Cajun, Cape Breton, East European, Electric, Irish, Jazz, Jazz Manouche, Klezmer, Latin, Mexican, New Acoustic, New England, Old-Time Southern, Québécois, Scottish, Swedish, and Swing styles.
Historical and technical workshops are on the program in addition to tune and style learning -- "Songs from Black History," "Using Roots Music to Confront Racism," "Play Your Fiddle In Tune! - Improving Intonation and Tone," "What Chords Go With a Tune," "Working the Seven Dimensions of the Bow," "Taming Performance Anxiety," "Combining Speed & Clarity on the Mandolin," and many more. Workshops and jams are designed for Beginners, Low Intermediates, High Intermediates, and Advanced players, although you can attend any sessions you like.
These inspiring and incredible sessions are a great value for players and listeners. Attending FHO is not only an amazing experience, it’s a way for you to support and connect with these wonderful instructors and performers. Attendees have said that their broad opportunities for learning (tunes, styles, instruments, techniques), gains in musical inspiration, and renewed connections with the community were priceless! Discounts are always provided for seniors and young musicians, and there are further discounts and many giveaways (books, lessons, CDs, a beautiful fiddle, and free workshops) for early bird signups. Scholarships based on financial need are available.
Attendance and participation at FHO are from your laptop, desktop, tablet, phone, or other device. You'll be joining Zoom sessions conveniently reached (through our event software called "Whova") from a web browser or mobile app. At face-to-face Fiddle Hell, you had to make a difficult choice of where to go in each time slot; for FHO, you'll be able to replay videos of prior sessions for the next 4 months, so you won't miss your favorite instructors, workshop topics, jams, and performers. Optionally, you can access the FHO online community once you register for discussions, messaging, virtual exhibitors, and technical help if you need it.
What about 2022?
Fiddle Hell Online, April 7-10, 2022. Schedule, instructors, and registration will be posted right here in January, 2022.
Fiddle Hell Massachusetts, Westford, MA, Nov 3-6, 2022.
On behalf of Fiddle Hell and my family, we hope you are doing ok, staying healthy, and coping with the difficult changes to everyday life. We had a great time jamming, learning, and having fun with you in April! It was a time for friendship and reconnection, and for awesome learning and listening. We'll see you in November!
Fiddle Hell strives to be an actively inclusive and welcoming place for people of all racial groups, ethnicities, abilities, gender identities and/or expressions, sexual orientations, incomes, religions, and other identities. We value and embrace all forms of diversity among our staff and participants. In August 2020, we identified a number of areas where Fiddle Hell could improve with respect to racial justice, and we took taking steps to put these ideas into action. We were excited to offer workshops (in November 2020 and April 2021, and continuing in November 2021 and beyond) that provide opportunities to learn about the contributions and roles of people of color in the origins and evolution of the instruments, tunes, and styles we play. Please click here to read about these steps in our full Statement about Fiddle Hell and Racial Justice.
Click the links on the left or use the menus suggested on the right
For 16 years, the Fiddle Hell Massachusetts Festival has been a yearly gathering of fiddlers, cellists, mandolin/guitar/old-time banjo players, and singers to meet, jam, learn, listen, and have fun. It's both friendly and diverse, crossing all ages and including many traditional musical styles. To keep ourselves safe during the pandemic, we re-imagined Fiddle Hell as an online festival and music camp. We have enjoyed two Fiddle Hell Onlines, with the third happening in November, 2021. Typically, there are about 8% beginners, 25% low intermediates, 37% high intermediates, and 30% advanced players, with many workshop and jam session choices at each level. When FH is in-person in Westford, MA, roughly 15% of the attendees are kids, and we have some sessions just for them.
The invention of the late, great fiddler Dale Hopkins from Missouri, "Fiddle Hell" events have occurred in fun locations worldwide. Prior Fiddle Hells have been held in the US, the UK, the Netherlands, and Germany. Dale used the term "Fiddle Hell" to refer to the unique sound of many fiddlers playing a tune together. While Dale's two Fiddle Hell gatherings involved performances for the public as well as some informal sharing of tunes and techniques, Dave Reiner extended the concept to make the Fiddle Hell Massachusetts Festival more of a hands-on festival for all ages, with hundreds of scheduled workshops and jam sessions led by a wonderful group of experienced and supportive instructors, as well as many amazing concerts. The Fiddle Hell Massachusetts Festival and Fiddle Hell Online are now run by the Fiddle Hell Massachusetts LLC.
In 2019, we had 800+ musicians at the fifteenth Fiddle Hell Massachusetts, held at the Westford Regency Inn & Conference Center in Westford, MA. Participants came from as far away as Scotland, Germany, Canada, California, Alabama, Michigan, Texas and Florida, and from as near as Westford, MA, itself. They played and learned in many styles - New England, Irish, Scottish, Cape Breton, Southern Old-TIme, Bluegrass, French Canadian, Jazz, Swing, Scandinavian, Klezmer, Blues, Electric, World, and more. Many tunes were taught, along with the stylistic details of the different traditions. In-depth workshops on techniques covered jamming, learning by ear, backing up singers, music theory, bowing patterns, improvisation, looping, and much more. Informal hallway jams in 9 "jam spots" were active through most of the day and night. For attendees, instructors, and staff, 2019 was a Fiddle Hell to remember!
In November, 2020, we held our first Fiddle Hell Online, with over 800 attendees. Without physical space limitations, we increased the number of concerts to 35, along with 35 jams and 170 workshops. While there were no hallway jams or in-person hugs with musical friends, attendees really appreciated "front-row" seats for all sessions, and the ability to replay all sessions (and even slow them down) for the next 3 months. We were excited to offer many more workshops that provided opportunities to learn about the contributions and roles of people of color in the origins and evolution of the instruments, tunes, and styles we play. In April, 2021, we held our second Fiddle Hell Online, with even more workshops and over 900 attendees. The third FHO is coming up on November 4-7, 2021.
To help with jams, to give players some common repertoire, and to encourage all to try out new styles, we introduced the "original" set of 52 common tunes in 2010, and added the "new" set of 52 more tunes in 2016. The New 52 were chosen based on your suggestions from the prior 4 years of FH surveys. Some of these 104 common tunes will be taught in workshops in November, and will likely show up in jams. These tunes are all listed here. We just call them the "Common Tune List" or "CTL" these days, without distinguishing which of the two lists tunes come from.
You can order an instructional 2-CD set of the 52 original Fiddle Hell common tunes, played both up-to-speed and slowly by the Reiner Family Band. Volume 1 is only $15 postpaid (within the US) in our online Store.
In 2017, the Reiner Family Band (and several talented friends) recorded a 2-CD set of the 52 new common tunes, played fast and slow. Volume 2 is also only $15 postpaid (within the US) in our online Store.
Fiddle Hell Online and the Fiddle Hell Massachusetts Festival are run by the Fiddle Hell Massachusetts LLC. Our events are loosely sponsored online by the Fiddle and Alternative Strings Forum and the Fiddle Hangout. At these websites, you'll find discussions, event listings, and other resources; you can join for free and read about past and future Fiddle Hell meetings.
Our usual sponsors, D'Addario and CodaBow, have not been doing giveaways at the Online Fiddle Hells. You can read more about other sponsors in the Exhibitor Gallery once you're registered, or earlier by clicking here.
We're working closely with Maine Fiddle Camp, Ashokan Camps, Northeast Heritage Music Camp, Creative Strings Workshop, Strings Without Boundaries, New England Folk Festival (NEFFA), Fiddleheads, and Rustic Roots Camp on cross-promotion and best practices for online teaching.
Thanks to Jenna Moynihan, Fiddle Hell Instructor, for the photo!