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Studying Old-Time Fiddle: Dwight Diller’s Approach To Teaching, And Learning.

Posted by Brooklynbanjoboy on Monday, March 20, 2023

Hello, BHO Citizens. 


I just posted this eBook on AMAZON.COM via Kindle Direct Publishing:


Studying Old-Time Fiddle: Dwight Diller’s Approach To Teaching, And Learning.  Durham, North Carolina: Little Bear Banjo Publishing House.  March 2023.


I put a 3 dollar pricetag on the eBook – the lowest price that KDP would accept, given their production costs, etc. 


Here’s the “blurb” for the book:


Dwight Diller was born in Charleston, West Virginia, in August 1946 and spent most of his life in Pocahontas County, West Virginia.  He passed away on 14 February 2023Dwight devoted his life to preserving, performing, and teaching the tunes of The Old People from the high mountain forests of east central West Virginia. 


In the late 1990s, I was guided to Dwight’s old-time banjo playing and encouraged – by my first teacher, Bates Littlehales – to look to Dwight for guidance on playing old-time banjo, clawhammer style.    In 2019, motivated by the realization that rotator cuff repair surgery had left me significantly less able to wield a five-string banjo, I found the confidence necessary to attempt to learn the rudiments of fiddling, to push through challenges at a pace that suited me. 


I was, or at least I thought I was, willing to try to get around the obstacles that age imposed in the form of less nimble hands, fingers, and shoulders.  This "confidence" gave me reason to shove aside my lack of "Music Theory" and music reading knowledge, and to embark on muddling through the process of learning something new at this stage in life.  However, none of that would have happened without the encouragement and assistance that Dwight Diller offered me. 


This book, in honor of Dwight as a friend and a teacher, developed from my notes, our email correspondence, and phone discussions, and the recorded music he sent me over three years - from 2019 to 2023 - during which Dwight helped me learn some fiddling.  I would not have attempted this writing project had I not put in the work on the “first volume,” Dwight Diller: West Virginia Mountain Musician (McFarland, 2016).  That work convinced me that there was more than met the eye, or the ear, about Dwight’s teaching work. 


Thanks for your attention.  Make great music,


Lew Stern

Durham, NC

1 comment on “Studying Old-Time Fiddle: Dwight Diller’s Approach To Teaching, And Learning.”

dbrooks Says:
Wednesday, March 22, 2023 @8:52:40 AM

Here's a review of the Kindle version that I posted on Amazon:

"I just finished reading “Learning Fiddle.” I found it very enjoyable. The author describes his hesitation, slow discovery and ultimate fascination with the fiddle in terms easy for anyone to understand. And he presents a 3-D view of Dwight’s teaching methods that far surpass the thinner descriptions and impressions I have encountered from others. I admit I have had the picture of Dwight as a martinet with a “my way or the highway” approach combined with a shaggy West Virginia mountain mysticism that presented barriers for me. This narrative presents a more human and humane picture while admitting that Dwight is set in his ways on many things. Perhaps the best compliment I can give is that reading the book prompted thoughts within me of scratching on a fiddle myself. I’ve only done that once when my grandson had a ¾ fiddle while taking lessons for a few months. I don’t think I’m ready to take that challenge but the fact that a spark was kindled says good things about this work."

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