Miss Kara's School for Wayward Girls

It's a philosophical decision

Pete and Oliver

Pete Sutherland and Oliver Scanlon; two thirds of Pete's Posse. If I could locate the source, I'd link back to the photographer's site; this is a spectacular portrait. 

Elizabeth and I started dancing two months before she picked up her first Violin. She wanted to understand the difference between a Fiddle and a Violin. I didn't understand the answer but it got tucked into the archives anyway. It seemed like every Violin I saw looked pretty much the same as every Fiddle and I was operating under the assumption that they had to be the same instrument. 

It's how they're played. That's the difference. And here's why I love this photograph. When I look at Pete, I see an old time fiddler,  and Oliver is still playing the Viola in the Vermont Youth Symphony. Look at them closely. Look at the hands. Look at the bow hold, the finger positions and the angle at which the left hand tilts up toward the neck. Look at the posture and the faces. Pete Sutherland is making love to that Fiddle. Oliver is in a holy place. 

They're playing the same music. 

So that's the difference between a Violin and a Fiddle; it's the music you make and the way you play the instrument.


A bridge is a piece of unfinished wood, maybe an eighth of an inch thick, that raises and supports the four strings just above the Lower Bout (the bottom). It rises and falls in an arc: G D A E.

My bridge had a problem. The drop from A to E was too severe and my bow had nowhere to go at that angle. On Friday I drove up to Barre (that's pronounced 'Barry', by the way and I'm still horrified) to see a Luthier. Swapping out a bridge shouldn't be that big a deal, and it's not, really. It's cut from a template and that's the big deal. It's minor surgery for the Luthier, but it's a philosophical decision on the part of the musician.

It's the bridge that's different. It doesn't have to be, and most people wouldn't notice, but it supports the way the fiddler plays the instrument. It's hard to see because of the angle of Pete's bridge, but I'd be astonished if it wasn't flat.

That's what it is. The bridge is nearly flat and the strings are closer to the body. It's the music you make and the way you play the instrument

And that's your answer, Elizabeth, your Fiddle is official.