Janie’s Jumpstart, Interview with Jane Rothfield

Read more about power-house American fiddler, clawhammer banjo and guitar player, Jane Rothfield & Allan Carr and their class in our interview below! Interested in their class? Register today to secure your spot.

JCCFS: Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background in your medium. How did you get started?

JR: My “fiddling” started at age 5 when I was lucky to be taught by Louise Behrand, one of the first Suzuki violin teachers in America. While I never was a “classical” violinist, I did get a strong start with good technique (playing in tune!), and learning to play by ear with an emphasis on rhythm, musicality and having fun! This grounding was crucial for the development of my own “learn by ear” teaching “method” which focuses on internalizing the rhythms (it’s all about the righthand) of old time music, listening techniques, how to play well with others, building a varied tune repertoire and have fun playing old time music! I started playing old time fiddle music at age 13 in New England, by going to the Bristol Connecticut Old Time Fiddlers Club, hanging and jamming at regional Bluegrass and Folk Festivals and Old Time Fiddle Contests. I got to learn and play with a variety of wonderful older generation fiddlers from New England (Leo Beaudoin from Canton CT),who played American Old Time and Quebeqois traditional music. I put together old time/bluegrass bands in High School and College, continuing to learn and play with great older and younger generation fiddlers and banjo players from around the country building my tune repertoire and creating my own fiddling voice and style! I started teaching in my early 20’s, starting the first old time fiddle class at McCabe’s Music in Santa Monica California and have been teaching fiddle, claw hammer banjo, mandolin and guitar ever since! In 2014, I started my own home based music camps called Janie’s Jumpstart, which we’ve done throughout the US and Europe! In addition to my private students (in person and online) I have taught many workshops, at festivals and music camps such as Banjo Camp North, Earful of Fiddle, Swannanoa Gathering, Great Lakes Music Camp, Fiddle Hell and many more!

JCCFS: Tell us more about your upcoming class, “Janie’s Jumpstart” on October 22-27. What’s your classes specific technique or process?

JR: Over the years I have developed a teaching “method” that really works to get people playing and have more fun with old time music. For me this music is about rhythm- My teaching focuses on helping students develop their righthand rhythm techniques (bowing, claw hammer and picking)-as well as how to learn more easily and quickly by ear, how to back up a tune or song with chords, harmony playing and a little improv too! I use a variety of my own techniques, such as “air bow” or moving your right hand without playing the instrument to get the feel of the rhythmic movement, singing the “rhythm” of the tune without the melody, and using body movement to internalize these rhythms to help student play more intuitively and have ultimately have more fun playing with others! I have found that if we sing the tunes as we’d like to play them, with all the subtle rhythm and melody options, then it becomes much easier to actually play the music as we want to and find your musical voice. We will do ALOT of listening to old recordings of our tunes, and will work to help you develop a keen ear for really hearing the subtleties of rhythm and melody played by different musicians. I call this Active Listening which is the key to everything (IMHO). If we can hear it, we can play it! My goal is not to teach you all the tunes, but how to play them better with rhythm, musicality and fun!

Jane & Allan

Students in class

JCCFS: What can students expect to leave your class with?

JR: We will work on instrumental techniques, build your tune and song repertoire, play around with chords, harmony, improvisation, singing, maybe tune writing, how to play for dancing and how to put together and play in an ensemble or band. There will be opportunities for one on one with the instructors, and for to have some individual or smaller group playing. The pace will be relaxed, and in addition to the studio class setting, we will try for some out door playing, have some evening jams, and hopefully play for the cooking class and get a special treat! We encourage students to record audio and/or video, bring a notebook, snacks and beverages to share!

JCCFS: What do you enjoy most about teaching?

JR: I love teaching people of all ages and abilities-My belief is that we can all make music no matter how long you’ve been playing or what level you’re at! I especially love it when I can find the “magic key” to help you get past a musical roadblock. Sometimes we get stuck and I love to play the teacher/detective to figure out the solution to get you to the next level of your playing! I love when I can find that little thing that will help someone play better! I strive to be hyper aware of an individuals playing ability and learning style so that no matter what happens in class, they are successful at what they are learning and have fun at the same time. It’s ok to not play all the notes for the music to sound good! If you’re having fun, are listening and engaging with the other musicians then the music will be good! If it sounds good, it is good!

JCCFS: What’s your favorite part about coming to the Folk School?

JR: I love the chill and comfortable teaching environment in the music studio-with such a long day (6 hours) we also get to take our time with learning, processing and getting to the nitty gritty of a tune or song without rushing! I like to encourage the class to treat our time together like an Old Time Music learning party complete with evening jams, hanging together at meals, playing for dancing, and having fun. The campus is beautiful and the food is good too! I love to share our music with the rest of the school community with Morningsong, Evening Square Dance, and Thursday Jam! It’s wonderful to meet all the other students and instructors for the other classes and to see the fabulous staff again.

JCCFS: Where do you draw inspiration from for your work?

JR: My inspiration for music comes from so many influences-but I’d say primarily from the people and places I’ve traveled to-getting to experience different cultures, art, food, hear and make music not only in the USA but more recently in Europe with other musicians.

JCCFS: Where can folks find you if they want to stay up to date on your work?

JR: My website www.janierothfield.com or you can find me on Facebook, jane.rothfield or Instagram, jane_rothfield

The Folk School Davidson Hall/ Music Studio

Watch Music Interviews with Jane & Allan

Picky Fingers Podcast
Mike in the Wilderness with Hilarie Burhans
Meriweather with Allan Carr

Upcoming class with Jane & Allan

Janie’s Jumpstart

October 20-25, 2024

This intermediate level class is open to fiddlers, clawhammer banjo players, mandolinists, and guitarists who want to “jumpstart” their playing of Appalachian old-time music. Throughout the week, learn a variety of tunes and songs from North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia. Focus on mastering the technique, rhythm, and musicality to help you get that old-time feel in your playing. Learn tunes by ear as and approach playing together in a band/ensemble setting.

About Jane Rothfield & Allan Carr

Jane Rothfield Janie Rothfield is an award winning fiddler, clawhammer banjo player, recording artist and internationally touring musician known for her rhythm, drive and musical inventiveness! She is also the founder and director of her own Janie’s Jumpstart Old Time Camps! Janie has been teaching for over 35+ years and has developed a surefire method for learning traditional music by ear with a focus on technique, musical expression, rhythm and fun! She has taught at music camps such as Swannanoa Gathering, Music Camps North, Festival of American Fiddle Tunes, Fiddle Hell and at workshops and festivals around the world!

Allan Carr, originally from Aberdeen, Scotland, is an award-winning traditional style musician who has performed throughout the UK and U.S. He has melded both American and Scottish traditional and original music with his wife, fiddler Janie Rothfield, and their various bands and ensembles for over forty years. Allan has over ten recordings to his credit and has taught guitar and Scottish ballad singing at numerous workshops and festivals around the world. In addition to his fine ballad singing and songwriting, Allan is known for his driving, lyrical, and inventive back-up style for tunes and songs from both sides of the Atlantic. https://www.allancarrmusic.com

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