Fiddle, Swing, Levels 2/3

Paul Shelasky

This course in Swing/Jazz fiddle will explore the basics of improvisation with an emphasis on the rhythms and phrasing of Jazz. We will start with easy solos in the Western Swing style, including “Milk Cow Blues” and “Corinna.” All of these will be in the first position.

We’ll progress to authentic solos of legendary Jazz fiddlers including Stuff Smith, Eddie South, and Stephane Grappelli—some of these will go into third position. We will learn by the traditional way of learning complete solos. They will be taught by ear, slowly broken down into sections, and sheet music will be provided as well. 

Learning any solo, over the standard chord progressions, one can apply that solo, or parts of it, to any similar set of chord changes and you build technique and experience that way. In my opinion, this is the original and still the best way to learn jazz improvisation.

Prerequisites: All students are required to display basic skills such as: generally playing in tune, mastery of the basic fiddle tunes at a moderate pace, and the ability to learn the simplest melodies by ear (but the notation will also be there to help you). Good left/right hand coordination will help students keep up with the class. Familiarity with swing and jazz fiddle music will be helpful but is not required. 

Please bring your recording device!

About Paul Shelasky

Paul Shelasky started playing guitar at the age of fourteen, and began fiddle and mandolin at age eighteen. Although his parents were classically trained musicians, Paul taught himself to be fluent in bluegrass, jazz, Celtic and a smattering of other styles. He has earned two California State Fiddle Championships, has twice been named California State Flat-picking Guitar Champion, and is an honorary lifetime member of the California Bluegrass Association.

Paul has played with several highly acclaimed bluegrass bands including twelve years with the Good Ol’ Persons, five years as the resident fiddle player at Disneyland with the Rhythm Brothers, and nine years touring with Lost Highway. He has been in concert and recorded with David Grisman, Tony Rice, Frank Wakefield and other bluegrass legends. He’s played with other California notables including The Phantoms of the Opry, David Thom Band, and the Coyote Brothers, and currently plays with Blue & Lonesome and JimBo Trout and the Fishpeople. He has toured the U.S., Canada, the British Isles, Europe, and Taiwan.

While resident at Disneyland with the Rhythm Brothers, Paul and the Brothers guested at numerous Trad Jazz festivals in Los Angeles, Palm Springs and Sacramento. Paul has also interviewed and jammed with the legendary Jazz fiddlers Joe Venuti, Stephane Grappelli, and Svend Asmussen.

Paul is a firm believer in learning the way all the masters learned: by copying classic solos starting from the very easiest and building confidence and technique in slow, easy steps. The result is learning to play correctly within the style, the traditional way.

Paul has taught several times each at the California Coast Music Camp, British Columbia Bluegrass Workshop, and of course Walker Creek Music Camp.  He has taught workshops at bluegrass festivals the world over and has written the bluegrass column in Fiddler Magazine from the magazines’ first issue. Paul is also hilarious and our favorite emcee for concert nights at Walker Creek. His students have enjoyed his teaching at our camp, and we’re very glad to have him back to teach swing fiddle!