National Fiddle Champion Visits Mountain Strings

Canadian and US National Fiddle Champion, Shane Cook, visited BYU to spend time with Mountain Strings for three days, working on a new Canadian dance number. The Canadian Fiddlers’ Hall of Fame calls Cook one of the “finest fiddlers in the world today.” He has solo recordings and travels the world to perform and teach. Cook brings together different styles of fiddle music including American bluegrass, Canadian, Celtic, contest, and swing. Mountain Strings’ new number, which included a jig and reel, was arranged and taught by Cook.

From start to finish Cook was alongside sight-reading, practicing, and arranging the music to match the dance performed by BYU’s International Folk Dance Ensemble. “It was very rewarding to see everything come together, and a lot of that goes to show how great a teacher Shane is,” says Mountain Strings’ fiddler Laura Waters.

Cook’s visit gave Mountain Strings new skills and perspectives. Specifically, the group worked on fiddling skills and incorporating blue notes into any tune. Blue notes are notes sung at a different pitch to add a stylistic flair.

Between rehearsals Cook took time to train students individually. “I greatly enjoyed the opportunity to learn from him in a ‘jam session’ environment,” says Waters. “It was very inspiring to interact with Shane, and I have a renewed energy and passion for music in general because of his example.”

Mountain Strings upcoming performances are November 30 and December 1, 2018 at “Christmas Around the World” and a traditional concert on December 12, 2018 in BYU’s Madsen Recital Hall.

Mountain Strings and International Folk Dance Ensemble pose with Shane Cook.

Members of Mountain Strings practice during a rehearsal.