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Fiddling continues to grow in Deh Cho

Roxanna Thompson
Northern News Services
Published Thursday, February 3, 2011

LIIDLII KUE/FORT SIMPSON - Seventy-two bows swept over 288 strings as fiddlers from six Deh Cho communities gathered for what's becoming a mid-winter tradition.

NNSL photo/graphic

Alinda Edda, left, of Fort Liard and Leanna Vital of Nahanni Butte focus on a song during one of the orchestra practices at the fifth annual Kole Crook Fiddle Association's January Jamboree. - Roxanna Thompson/NNSL photo

The Kole Crook Fiddle Association held its fifth annual January Jamboree in Fort Simpson from Jan. 28 to 30. The event drew more fiddlers than expected.

After 106 fiddlers participated in last year's jamboree the association decided to split the event. This year Hay River held a jamboree on Jan. 21 to 23 followed a weekend later by Fort Simpson.

"We thought we'd have two groups of 60," said Gerda Hazenberg, a member of the association's board.

Instead 85 fiddlers, including some from Fort Providence and Kakisa went to Hay River and 72 from all of the other Deh Cho communities congregated in the village for a total of 157.

The increase is primarily coming from the smaller communities, Hazenberg said.

The association has met its goal of establishing a Kole Crook fiddle group in every Deh Cho community and they are growing. This school year the association placed an additional eight fiddles in Nahanni Butte, one of the newest additions, for a total of 11 instruments.

One of the keys to the success is creating community leaders, young people who know how to tune fiddles and replace strings so fiddling can continue on a weekly basis, Hazenberg said. The jamboree is also crucial.

"It's inspiration," she said. "To have people go back and to have these tunes in their heads."

Five fiddle teachers taught participants ranging in age from seven to adults.

The students were broken into groups according to their skill level to learn new songs and techniques but were also brought together for whole group orchestra sessions.

Calvin Cairns, an instructor from Victoria, has been to all five jamborees.

"It's just really special to have people travel from all the communities and meet together at mid-winter," Cairns said about what draws him back.

This year Cairns taught the 10 beginner youth fiddlers focusing mainly on bowing techniques.

"They're motivated and interested and focused," he said.

Deanna Jumbo, 11, of Trout Lake was in an intermediate class.

Jumbo, who went to her first jamboree last year, said she likes coming and learning new songs.

"It's fun and I get to see new friends and old friends," she said.

Having spread to all the Deh Cho communities, the association will now be focusing on building strong community fiddle groups, said Hazenberg.

The association is planning a tour for the end of March so instructors can make sure the fiddles are in good repair and build on the interest sparked at the jamboree.

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