A. Fiddle-Hooper, Violinist, Cellist, Composer
Hula Hooping and Busking-
Individuality in Music
By Jasmine Reese - We tend to place our preconceived notions on everything and everyone. For example, when we see a violinist, our minds might flash to a person sitting on stage with 40 other musicians, wearing black, and performing in a fancy concert hall. The last thing we'd expect is for someone to pull out a hula hoop, violin, and start performing the two simultaneously on a crowded city street or on stage at a rock concert. But for Fiddle-Hooper, this is her gig and so much more.
Fiddle-Hooper is a violinist, cellist, composer, and producer who has performed on stages and streets in 22 countries. She's been on four global tours. While she's developed her own artistic individuality, style, fashion, and performance, Fiddle-Hooper's journey began in a more expected way back in 1980.
"Violin and cello found me in an exploratory music class in my public school in Reno, NV, " she said. "A brilliantly happy music teacher named Katherine Hutchins came to our school with violins, violas, cellos, and basses. It was a month long series, and each week, we focused on the different instruments. Of course, when I drew the bow across the strings of the violin, it was like lightening struck my soul. I have been playing avidly ever since -- a lifelong obsession."
Like many children beginning the violin journey, she started with a foundation in classical music. She actually progressed to a high level of performance with a promising career and competitions on her schedule. Then, the unthinkable happened.
"I've never put aside my foundation of classical music," she explained. "However, I went through a tempering process that forced me into an existential crisis when an orthopedic surgeon told me I'd never play my violin again.
Two days after having been offered a full-ride scholarship to study under the professor of violin at the University of Redlands, I endured a terrible accident in which the 'glenoidal joint' of my left shoulder exploded. All the muscle, cartiledge, and tendon rendered useless. After two reconstructive surgeries, four years of occupational therapy, I was supposedly finished with my solo violin career.
Of course, I could not bare to live a life without my beloved violin. I slowly started forcing my arm to position, or close to it. It took me a couple of years, but I began playing again. Due to the demands of classical music, I began to explore other genres for my love of style and ease. I have never been able to get back to the perfection that is classical competition; however, I have been able to play in 22 countries on four world tours playing most genres of music including classical, pop, rock & roll, country western, indian classical, celtic, middle-eastern, trance and more."
It's safe to say that both her struggles and travels contributed to the unique artist she is, today.
"Music literally has saved my life multiple times over through life's hardships," she said. "When my father died, I focused on music. When I had cancer, I focused on music. When life has thrown its punches, I've responded with music. I have known from very early in my career that I was to share music as a tool for healing and peace. It's an obsession to share this gift with as many people, globally, as possible."
While reinventing herself after injury, she found she had a knack for hula hooping and fiddling at the same time. She promptly incorporated the skill into performance.
Not only has she traveled to many countries, but she's lived in quite a few as well. She stated Japan had a significant impact on both the visual and audio aspects of her artistry. She felt free from criticism, and the community embraced her "spiritually and creatively."
She's currently planning her fifth world tour. Her latest compositions found on her website "captures the intensity, heart break, joy, and soul-wrenching twists of life. Everyone has a story, I just humbly compose the background music," she said.
In regards to her street performance (aka busking), Fiddler-Hooper wanted people to know this.
"I believe a misconstrued idea of buskers, is that they aren't of professional musical quality. I believe this is common, however, very inaccurate. Most buskers, including myself, busk between paid gigs, as practice, fun, or extra income.
A dose of advice for a beginning busker. To treat the street like any other formal stage. To make sure you are heard, the competing noise can eat up your sound, especially acoustic instruments. To know the parameters of the law around busking in the city you choose to work/play. In some cities, even globally, it's against the laws to busk. For example, in Venice, Italy, I had an armed military guard hold me at gun point and threaten to take away my antique 1744 Gaffinni violin for merely playing with a friend along the canal."
She leaves us with the major importance of music in her life and the lives of those around us.
"I am most proud of being able to connect with everyone on an 'even playing field'," she says. "With the humble knowledge that we're all in this together -- sharing."
Photo Credit: First Image by Randy Wentzl, 2010
Fiddlershop’s "Music is for Everyone" blog series features interviews with professional, amateur, and student musicians who inspire through their unique musical stories. Their example proves that music truly is for everyone, and we hope after reading, you’re motivated to begin and/or continue your musical journey.