MONTVILLE, Maine — Update: 207 visited Maine Fiddle Camp in 2019. This summer’s activities at the camp have been cancelled because of the pandemic. For information on the Virtual Fiddle Camp happening June 19-21, click on the link we’ve provided above.
Fifteen years ago or so, when Swansea Bleicher was trying to get better at playing her instrument, she faced a problem a lot of people run into. She didn’t have a musical home. “I was neither a beginner nor a professional,” she recalls.”I didn’t feel like I fit in anywhere. Where could I find people to play with?”
Not until she drove north from her residence in Massachusetts did she find that home, one she’s now visited over a dozen summers—the Maine Fiddle Camp in Montville. It’s a place that doesn’t just tolerate musicians of all ages and abilities; it embraces and encourages them with warmth and enthusiasm. Beginners and virtuosos, kindergarteners and grandparents, they’re all welcome. “It’s easy to learn when you’re not being criticized or judged,” Bleicher says. “There’s no barrier between you and the music.”
About 350 people attend the camp during each of its various sessions in the summer, not just fiddlers but musicians who play the guitar, mandolin, piano, dulcimer, ukulele, harmonica, cello, flute and pennywhistle. “It’s my favorite week of the whole year,” says Carter Logan, who teaches banjo. For him the best part of the day actually comes late in the evening, around 11:30 or midnight, when musicians get together and play for an hour or two on the steps of a cabin or around the flames of a campfire. “You want to go to bed, trust me, because you’ve got to get up in the morning,” he says. “But how do you leave? How do you leave a great jam?”
For more information, visit http://www.mainefiddlecamp.org/.