It’s time for our Student of the Month feature, and this month is a good one. Today, we’re honored to put the spotlight on Fiddle School’s very first member, Laura Boschma. Laura is one of the biggest supporters of fiddling I know. Not only is she extremely dedicated to honing her own playing, but she is a tireless and generous cheerleader for others in the fiddle community. She goes to fiddle contests as both a competitor and a volunteer, she attends as many jam sessions as she can, and her hands-on approach to doing whatever she can to nurture the fiddling tradition never fails to inspire me.
Laura is a treasured member of our Fiddle School community and one of the most positive, encouraging people I know. She always takes the time to offer kindness and support to her fellow fiddlers and our community is so lucky to have her. Read on to learn more about Laura’s fiddle journey.
How long have you been fiddling?
About two and a half years.
How did you start fiddling?
I had just finished playing cello in a large church orchestra for a huge Easter Sunday service. We had had numerous concerts that week, so it just felt great to be done. Peggy Waller’s sister, Betty Allen, was in the orchestra with me, playing viola. She came up to me as we were packing up to go home, and asked, “Hey! Do you want to try something really fun this summer?” I said, “Sure! What do you have in mind?” She then proceeded to tell me all about the Rolland Fiddle Camp, held in Westcliffe, CO. I ended up going (that summer, and for two more summers), but didn’t play fiddle at ALL between camps. I was really busy teaching public school orchestra at three Title 1 schools, teaching private strings lessons, playing cello in a string quartet, singing with the Tucson Symphony, and gigging at a lot of different churches both vocally and on cello.
The third summer I went to the Rolland Fiddle Camp, and was put into Katie Glassman’s small group. I simply adored her teaching style, her fun and playful demeanor, and greatly admired her extraordinary prowess on the fiddle. As we parted ways at the end of camp, Katie said she wanted to start a program for learning fiddle that would go all year long (not just the summer). She asked if I would be interested in participating, and I said I would! I signed up for Fiddle School shortly thereafter. I didn’t really buy into Fiddle School fully that ensuing year. I wasn’t quite willing to take time away from my classical music pursuits yet. The next summer, I went to Katie’s first Mountain Retreat at a beautiful Air B & B just outside the Estes Park YMCA Camp. I came to camp woefully underprepared…I had zero fiddle tunes learned thoroughly and/or memorized. I had never been to a jam, had never been to a fiddle performance, had no personal friends that fiddled, and I really didn’t know the repertoire much at all. The next fall, Katie and Celeste started the Mastery program, and I thought it would provide the structure I really needed to learn to fiddle. I signed up. Needless to say, I haven’t looked back since!
What are your favorite styles/songs to play and why?
My first thought is waltzes! I simply love them. As a late adolescent and young adult, I did a lot of Texas-style dancing in huge dance halls in the Houston area. Waltzes were dancers’ breaks in those halls. They were a chance to catch your breath, and have a conversation with your dance partner that you could actually hear. I really, really like breakdowns, too—especially those with Celtic influences. I’m also finding I really like rags a lot. For some reason, they are really easy for me to learn and remember (I really don’t know why!).
How has Fiddle School influenced your playing?
Fiddle School, coupled with the COVID caused hiatus of many of my other musical pursuits, has been a complete treasure for me. It helped me use the COVID shut down time in a supremely focused, and extremely workmanlike way. It has helped me simultaneously narrow and deepen my musical focus, and has provided me with continuous helpful feedback with which to improve my technique. It has created a rich, rich community that I really love, even though we were physically both separated and isolated during the early COVID era.
Having the Mastery program during those most intense days (years) of social isolation was truly my salvation. It really helped me to focus, to achieve great consistency in practicing and tune preparation, and offered super encouraging feedback when I performed a tune on Zoom. Fiddle School has literally taught me the Texas-style fiddling and Texas Swing genres. It is my ongoing source of inspiration, challenge, accountability, and community.
What’s the most important thing music brings to your life?
Community! I’m never happier than when I’m playing with others. I’ve made such great friends while fiddling with other musicians—be they fellow Fiddle School students, nice people I’ve met at jams, musicians who have accompanied me, or else fellow competitors in my age division.
Tell us about the musical activities you do outside of Fiddle School.
I am still teaching classical violin, viola, and cello lessons to a studio that includes both youth and adults. A lot of my students have been auditioning to get into various programs, orchestras, and schools; so helping them prepare effectively keeps me really on my toes. I have been going to multiday jams, and just started my first year of contest fiddling this past January. I am currently on hiatus with my symphony gig.
What is your practice routine like?
I’m working really hard on my rhythm guitar skills, so I can better accompany my fiddle friends, and prepare to enter the accompaniment division in fiddle contests next year.
I’m ALWAYS up for learning a twin or triple fiddle tune with friends, then either performing it or competing with it. Love me some harmony!
It is my goal to have enough uptight bass skills to accompany everyone at the Mountain Retreat this summer (with Emily’s kind guidance).
My learning and growing in fiddle and related instruments is greatly enhanced and is made much more fun by all of you. Thank you, most kindly, for this honor. ❤️
Want to join our vibrant student community and hone your fiddle skills among supportive peers like Laura? Become a member of Fiddle School.