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The sound of fiddling at Ridgeview HS bridges generations

Ridgeview HS School Fiddlers club, Oregon Oldtime Fiddlers' Assn. team up

REDMOND, Ore. ( KTVZ ) -- An older generation of musicians is leaving a lasting impression on students at Ridgeview High School in Redmond. It's an impression that hopefully will be passed down in years to come.

A new fiddlers club that began at Ridgeview High School last year is bridging the gap between two generations, using the sound of music. Similarly to how old-time traditional music was created, the nuances of culture, location and the background of the listener helps build a distinct sound that is shared with others.

"The history of it comes from Europe, as we all know -- that's where it pretty much all comes from," fiddler Jeanette Bondsteel said. "Then it landed on the East Coast when we arrived. Each location in Europe brought their own style of music as they left Europe."

Ridgeview instructor Melissa Stolasz hosts students during lunch and after school gatherings, teaching a variety of song selections and techniques. What began as a small group of students has become a club of about 15 students, learning how to play the fiddle.

"These kids are just giving up their lunches to learn something new and completely on their own," Stolasz said. "They are brave souls and are just like, 'Lets try something'. I think that's amazing."

Stolasz reached out to the Redmond and Sisters community to find resources for students to get fiddles. She also partnered with the Oregon Oldtime Fiddlers Association, which hosts a local weekly jam session and uses a teaching method called "knee to knee."

"Its been pretty easy for me, because I've been playing music for a while," student fiddler Molly Burks said. "It's easier for me to hear it, but oftentimes our teacher will spell out the notes or count them out on the strings. Then I can just look and listen, that's actually called knee to knee learning. We do that a lot in school."

Listening is key in the knee to knee method, and the learning process is different for each student.

"It's really fun actually because they will bring in different songs, and we'd pick up on it slowly," Julie Mayfield said. "So for me, I might only get a couple of A notes, and then as they continuously play it, I build on it. It's just a great experience to try to learn with them."

Two generations, separated by time, are brought together by something that will live on forever.

"Music is so personally powerful, and empowering," Bondsteel said. "It is something that you will produce from your soul. It's yours, it isn't something anyone else can produce."

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Ridgeview High School
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Arielle Brumfield

Arielle Brumfield is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Arielle here.


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