by Cori Hilsgen
Area residents are invited to a barn dance at 7 p.m. Monday, May 4 at Kennedy Community School.
The barn dance will show what students have learned in a Fiddling Residency taught by fiddler, composer and jazz violinist Cristina Seaborn and Kennedy orchestra director Kimberly Fahy.
Seaborn and Fahy worked with 46 sixth- to eighth-grade orchestra students from February through May.
Students learned how to play 10 fiddle tunes, in the fiddle style, including double stops or two notes/strings at the same time; and slides and accents on beats of two and four. They also learned dances to accompany each fiddle tune.
Students learned the music at school on Mondays. They are also working on learning spring concert music on Thursdays for the concert on May 21.
Sixth-grade students rehearse together and seventh- and eighth-grade students rehearse together, each for 50 minutes on Monday and Thursday mornings. Seventh- and eighth-grade students also rehearse every other Wednesday for 50 minutes.
“One of the difficult parts has been learning so much music and all of the dances in a short amount of time,” Fahy said. “We would love to meet more frequently and for longer periods of time because it is fun. Another challenge has been the length of each piece. By the end of a song, the students say their arms are going to fall off because we repeat the song for the dancers so many times. It doesn’t feel like a long time for the dancers, but for the musicians, it feels long.”
During the barn dance, students will alternate taking turns dancing and playing the music for each other. They will dance on two tunes and play on the others.
Seaborn will call the dances during the barn dance, so attendees can dance even if they don’t know the dances ahead of time.
Seaborn has been performing in string quartets, jazz bands, bluegrass bands and symphonies her entire life.
Seaborn and Fahy applied for the residency. Seaborn presented the idea to Fahy who was interested in giving her students exposure to a variety of music styles.
“I have not done something like this with the orchestra before, and I thought it would be such fun to incorporate string music with dance,” Fahy said. “I love to dance. I think it helps teach students about music in a deeper way because now they have to learn to move with it. They also have to learn how to play the music at a tempo the dancers can dance. With dance, they can feel the music in their bodies.”
The residency was funded by a grant from the Central Minnesota Arts Board.
The event is free and open to the public.