Over spring break Golden was fortunate enough to be able to participate in a fiddle camp, supported by members of the Metis Nations Columbia River Society (MNCRS).
“Many of those participating were students of its (MNCRS) Fiddle School where lessons are taught by the amazing talented fiddle teacher and player, Leah Gardner,” said MNCRS member Davene Dunn.
Gardner has been playing fiddle since she was seven years old, after asking about the instrument for two years before that.
“I had seen a street performer in Edmonton playing when I was little and just thought it was the most beautiful sound,” she said. “That was the first time I was drawn to the instrument.”
Not only does she enjoy playing, but teaching has become another passion of Gardner’s.
“It’s fun to see people having success with music, especially the adult learners,” she said. “I’m also really driven by the idea of preserving music in the home. There is something magical about getting together with your friends and family and making music. I want everyone to be able to feel that magic.”
Gardner has 24 students in the fiddle school who now know what that feels like. And thanks to grants from the Ministry of Finance Gaming Policy Branch, and the Columbia Valley Credit Union, the Metis Society is able to subsidize the fiddle school.
And the fiddle camp, well that was just icing on the cake.
“Gordon Stobbe and J.J. Guy have come through Golden a few times to run fiddle camps and they always do such a great job. The organization of everything is usually spearheaded by Davene Dunn and Caren Nagao. We just put it out to the community to see if there is enough interest and then see if we can swing it with Gordon and J.J.’s schedule. This has been our largest camp to date,” said Gardner.
She has received very positive feedback since the camp, and is always thrilled to be able to play with grand masters who have been honing their craft for years.
It is also a great opportunity to keep the art of fiddle playing alive in Golden.
“It’s music that we’ve been playing for centuries and it strikes a chord in people that it’s quite universal,” said Gardner of fiddle playing. “The fiddle in Canadian history is also quite pervasive – it plays heavily in the East Coast tradition, Metis, Old-time, Irish-Canadian, French-Canadian, Acadian, Ontario Valley etc. – wherever you go the regional style will be a little different – which is quite lovely. It was great to have the opportunity to learn from Gordon and J.J. and hope they can swing through our little town next time they are out west.”