Kids stuff: The power of music in the digital age

Lyndsay Pruett; photo by Sandlin Gaither

Lyndsay Pruett, member of the Jon Stickley Trio and a teacher at Academy for the Arts, discusses the surprises that come with teaching kids to play the fiddle.

What impresses you most about the youths you work with?

I teach kids how to play fiddle tunes and the mechanics of how to make a desirable sound on a violin. I’m often impressed by their willingness to sit in a room by themselves and practice this instrument that involves no technology and have fun with it. There’s no instant gratification to learning the violin. I’m impressed to observe kids of this generation commit themselves to difficult things that aren’t modern.

What are the major challenges your students face? 

The thing that I’m most impressed by in my students is also a major challenge for them. Turning off screens to practice a seemingly archaic instrument for 10-30 minutes is no small feat. I applaud them and their parents for that commitment.

What have you learned about music by working with students?

The biggest thing I’ve learned since I started teaching only fiddle — as opposed to classical violin — is that there are infinite ways to play this instrument. Classical music generally uses prescribed techniques, so there’s less room for the individual. I’ve had to ease up on my prescription for what makes a fiddle work and help each student find their voice on this instrument. I find that process fascinating.


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