Interview with Trish Horrocks


Trish Horrocks was my first fiddle teacher.  I wouldn’t be where I am today without her inspiration and guidance!

She co-runs Fiddelium with her husband Geoff Horrocks.  Together they run Cross Canada Fiddle in Nanaimo and teach individuals as well as a wide range of groups.  


Q:  What’s your favorite type of music to play?

A:  That depends on what day you ask me, because I’m most excited to play the music that I’ve listened to that day. I organize my iTunes playlists by style, so if I listen to the Quebec Pur Laine playlist then I’m totally stoked to play classic french Canadian tunes. If the Scandinavian list comes up then I want to grab my fiddle and go through some Frigg or Vasen tunes. But my desert-island fiddle music is definitely Quebecois or American Old-Time.

Q:  Is anyone in your family a musician?

A:  Not in my immediate family, although all 7 kids in my family had music lessons as children. However I do have second cousins in County Clare (Ireland) who are professional touring musicians. Hopefully I will get to meet them some day to play a few tunes.

Q:  What inspired you to pick up the fiddle?

A:  Not a story I’m proud of, I’m afraid…. my elementary school was part of a pilot project studying the effect of music education on the development of math skills, and I was given a choice between math or violin class. That was an easy choice for me because I hated math! It was a Suzuki program, and our teacher encouraged us to explore many styles of music, so I go to learn a few fiddle tunes early on. Perhaps because of my father’s Irish background, it was a style of music I was drawn to right away. By the way, violin lessons did not help my math skills.

Q:  Do you prefer to teach, perform or write music?

A:  The idea of performing is exciting, but it’s not something I’ve ever learned to enjoy. I really do enjoy teaching, and I think it’s something I’m meant to do. During the school year I’m too busy to devote time to writing original tunes, which takes time and requires that I have access to lots of silence. I love the challenge of creating ensemble arrangements of my favourite tunes, and it’a always thrilling to hear those arrangements played by our student groups.

Q:  Do you have any tips for new fiddle players?Trish

A:  Be patient and careful while learning essential skills like bow grip, left hand position, tone production and accurate intonation. Building those foundations correctly from the start will save you months of frustration (and possible injury) down the road. Also, listen to as much music as possible (and not just fiddle music or classical violin repertoire).

Q:  What other instruments do you play besides fiddle?

A:  It depends what you mean by “play!” I studied both violin and viola in university; I have some training on piano; I play cello a little bit; I can play acoustic and electric bass enough to get myself in trouble.

Q:  How long have you been  playing fiddle?

A:  37 years


Trish will be one of the instructors at the Nanaimo Fiddle Society Camp in August 2016.  For more information or to register

Interview with Tyler Carson

I recently went to a house concert; house concerts are great because you can really connect with the performer considering you’re in a small room and can talk much easier than i
f you were in a theatre.  This concert was put on by a performer named Tyler Carson.  He also did a fiddle workshop where we did a lot of improvising.  We all got to take a turn while people were droning in the background.  It was great because Tyler was very calm about everything and it wasn’t pressuring at all.  Tyler shared some of his fiddle history and experiences with me.  If he has a concert near you I definitely recommend it.

How long have you been playing the fiddle?
27 years! (I’m 32)

Do you play any other instruments besides the fiddle?
Piano, guitar, mandolin.

Do you have any tips for new musicians or fiddle players?
Practice every day (or at least 5 times a week) with some serious focus on technical work. Otherwise seek teachers and genres of music that you find fun. Keep in mind that t3405851he right teacher can make classical very exciting and fun, while the opposite is equally true. And classical music is a very important help in our development.

What’s your favorite music to play?
Living music – any music that is connected to the spontaneous expression of your heart (rather than your thinking or trying!) this is why beginner students are often so wonderful to listen to because they LOVE what they are doing.

How long do you spend trying to write another tune on the loop pedal?
Writing on the loop pedal is great because it allows me to create a complete piece based on spontaneous heart expression very quickly. Every piece is different though in terms of how long it takes to finish.

Is anyone in your family a musician?
My sister is a fiddle player too! And she’s super cool and a wonderful musician – Kendel Carson

What caused you to start playing the fiddle?
My mom told me to!

Do you like to teach, write music books or perform?
I love all of these things because it’s another way of expressing my passion for music and how it can help people to find more happiness in life. I have a blog about this on my website:

Thank you, Tyler, for answering my questions. Check out his website for his blog and some great music videos!!

Cross Tuning

FiddleCross tuning is a different way of tuning the fiddle.  It gives you a break from the standard tuning GDAE.  There are many different cross tunings which include…
FCGD – Cajun tuning
GDGB – open G tuning
GDGD – saw mill tuning
GDAD – gee dad tuning
ADAE – high bass tuning
DDAD – dead man’s tuning
AEAC# – devil’s tuning
If you want to cross tune your fiddle I would suggest using a different fiddle from your regular fiddle, because if you tune your fiddle back and forth, you will have to change the strings a lot more and they will go out of tune a lot easier.  Cross tuning is a good way of getting a big sound out of your fiddle.  For example, when the strings are all tuned in a chord they will all drone together to make a big organ type sound.
There is a word you may or may not have heard and it is fiddlesticks.  Fiddlesticks is actually when someone is playing a cross tuning tune and another person uses thin drumsticks on the neck of the fiddle (on the strings) to make a cool bouncy sound.
After the fiddle was invented people would mess around with it and try new things.  They would tune it differently to play in new and intriguing ways.  The classical players settled on the standard tuning GDAE, so they could play in all keys.  Some people would tune their fiddle every time they wanted to play in a different key.  Sometimes banjos would cross tune to the same notes as the fiddle, because the banjo’s tuning wasn’t settled on at the time either.
Cross tuning is great for barn dances because of its great big sound.  When you’re up on stage the dancers are mostly relying on you, so you have to keep the beat going.
I cross tuned my fiddle because I thought it would give me a cooler sound and more options.  I really like to experiment with my music.  I choose the tuning AEAC# as there are lots of tunes to choose from in that tuning.  The first tune I learned was called Drunken Hiccups.  I am now trying to decide on a second tune so that I can experiment with fiddlesticks.