Fiddle, bluegrass

Blaine Sprouse

We’ll explore the rich and exciting genre of “traditional bluegrass fiddling,” and also review some great old-timey traditional Appalachian Mountain tunes.  Expect to learn how to improve tone and rhythmically drive a fiddle tune. We’ll learn classic Bill Monroe fiddle tunes, a few more obscure ones, and lush, beautiful waltzes and tunes from Kenny Baker and others. We’ll also look at techniques for backup in a band, supporting a vocalist or other instruments taking the lead. We’ll spend some time learning “double stops” and how to play in different keys. We’ll also discuss and examine different styles of bluegrass fiddling.  Our class objective will be to have fun and learn some new tunes and techniques we can use in the “real world,” playing in jam sessions and band situations.  Blaine is hoping to broaden your horizons and provide inspiration to continue to learn, grow and develop musically.  

Prerequisites: This is an intermediate class. Students should have a very good command of the instrument and should have four or more years of playing experience, including some experience playing music with others in jam sessions or in informal bands. Students should be able to play 10-20 fiddle tunes at a moderate and steady pace and have some ability to play simple melodies by ear. Familiarity with some classic bluegrass songs is highly recommended, especially those by Bill Monroe and Flatt and Scruggs. 

Bring: A recording device is strongly encouraged, although not required, either video or audio.  A tuning fork or a tuner is a great idea, as well as a notebook and pen or pencil.  Please come ready to play one or two tunes representative of your playing. 

Blaine Sprouse was born and reared in Berkeley County, West Virginia. He started playing guitar at age six with his father, a claw-hammer style banjoist, and then took-up fiddling at age nine. Influenced by Kenny Baker, Vassar Clements, Chubby Wise, Howdy Forrester and Benny Martin, Blaine left home at 17 for Nashville, TN, where his fiddling allowed him to perform regularly at the legendary Grand Ole Opry, tour extensively nationally and internationally and record with such country artists as Alabama, Randy Travis, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Glen Campbell and roots artists such as Hazel Dickens and Robin and Linda Williams. Blaine studied with the legendary bluegrass fiddler, Kenny Baker, whom he later joined in composing tunes and making numerous twin fiddle recordings, including the Rounder recording Indian Springs. He has spent a great deal of his life performing and recording with first-generation bluegrass artists Bill Monroe (known as the Father of Bluegrass), Jimmy Martin, The Osborne Brothers, Jim and Jesse, and legendary country artist Charlie Louvin of the Louvin Brothers.  No stranger to more contemporary bluegrass, Blaine joined with Jerry Douglas, Bela Fleck, Roland White, Mark Hembree and Pat Enright as the Dreadful Snakes to record Snakes Alive, and was a co-founding member of The Bluegrass Band with banjoist Butch Robins, Alan O’Bryant, Ed Dye and David Sebring. Blaine is currently a member of The Peter Rowan Bluegrass Band, and makes appearances both solo and with The Roland White Band, Tim Weed, and other ensembles. Playing fiddle now for over 45 years, he has four solo recordings on the Rounder Records and Cumberland Record labels.
   Blaine now lives in California, and has presented workshops and taught at various bluegrass festivals throughout the United States and internationally, as well as music camps such as The Festival of American Fiddle Tunes, California Bluegrass Music Camp, the Texas JAAM Camp, Walker Creek Music Camp, StringsFest, and Lark Camp. His students always love his classes at our camps, and we’re delighted to bring him back.