Williams might only be in middle school, but he is already a veteran
performer at the Athabascan Fiddle Festival.
played at the festival for the fourth time Friday, joining 28 other
local Alaska Native students who are learning the ropes of playing
the violin as members of Fairbanks Junior Fiddlers.
group's performance was the first of two by a youth group during
a day when aspiring fiddlers stole the show.
also featured a performance by children of adult performers at the
Elementary reading program director Maryanne Allan formed the Fairbanks
Junior Fiddlers five years ago. She said she was looking for a way
to provide students with a source of pride in their school to keep
them from dropping out.
students, mostly elementary school students, participate in the
program, receiving lessons from an instructor during the school
day, practicing as a group once a week and performing at various
events around town.
group has performed at the Athabascan Fiddle Festival every year
since the program started.
came to the fiddle festival about five years ago and we had five
students," Allan said, addressing the crowd gathered at the
David Salmon Tribal Hall for the second day of the festival Thursday.
of the students dressed in traditional Native clothing for the occasion
and assembled in the middle of the dance floor for their performance.
students ranging from third-graders to seventh-graders, the group
was a mixed lot in terms of both height and skills.
group opened with all the students playing "Twinkle, Twinkle
Little Star," then the older, more experienced students took
up some more complicated numbers.
said that by the time students leave the program, she hopes they
learn at least the basic skills of playing the violin so they can
have a starting point should they decide to later take up the Native
our hope that at some point, they'll be up on the stage performing
as Athabascan fiddlers," she said to the crowd during the students'
said he remembers being nervous the first time he performed at the
fiddle festival as a third-grader.
I got used to it," he said.
said he has plenty more goals when it comes to playing the violin.
hope I'll still be playing in the future and learn how to read music
and do all the slurs," he said.
third-grader Kelly May said he's enjoying his time as a junior fiddler.
just fun," he said.