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Small fry make the notes fly

SUNDAY, APRIL 10, 2005

The 5-year-old girl tapped her pink cowboy boots in time with her fiddle playing as she performed Saturday at the 37th annual Northwest Regional Fiddle Contest for the first time.

Elk, Wash., resident Macy Morgan was the youngest participant at this weekend’s competition held at East Valley High School. The competition continues today.

More than 100 fiddlers gathered to play their way into eight spots at the national competition this June in Weiser, Idaho.

Macy, just like all fiddlers in the competition, had to play three songs in four minutes for the judges. The selections had to include a hoedown, a waltz and a song of their choice. She played “Cripple Creek,” “Edelweiss” and “Grandfather’s Clock.”

Not only can the young lady play the latter song on the fiddle, she can also sing it by request, which she did for family and friends during the lunch break.

Macy started taking fiddle lessons in October from JayDean Ludiker, a well-known music instructor who holds lessons for about 80 children per week, 10 to 12 of which are under the age of 6.

“It’s really fun,” Ludiker said of teaching the children under 6 years old. “They are just like little sponges. They learn from visuals, from watching how I play.

“Macy is doing above average,” Ludiker said of the young girl’s musical ability. “She loves doing it. It is her attitude that makes it.”

The 5-year-old said her favorite part about playing the fiddle is “where I get to move my fingers fast.”

Macy competed Saturday in the Small Fry division with 15 other children under 7. Small Fry was one of seven age-based divisions in the contest. The other divisions are championship, senior, young adult, adult, junior and junior-junior.

Macy didn’t make the cut for the national championship this year, however, she didn’t walk away empty-handed.

The little girl with pink ribbons accenting each of her blond pigtails proclaimed, “I won,” after she and the oldest competitor, 87-year-old Mary Sharp, received commemorative glasses for their respective ages as participants in the contest.

Macy’s joy about her “trophy” delighted spectators who chuckled as the young lady ran to show it off to her mom.

Sharp, a veteran fiddle player, said her one piece of advice to Macy was to “enjoy yourself.”

The fiddle-playing children appeared to be doing just that.

Ed Miller, an organizer of the fiddle contest and father of another Small Fry participant, said it’s great to see young children interested in playing an instrument and parents are fortunate that the Spokane-area is rich with talented fiddlers.

Drew, Miller’s son, decided when he was 3 years old that he wanted to start playing the fiddle. He’d even picked the genre – bluegrass, Miller said.

Drew, now 5, competed in the Northwest Regional Fiddle Contest for his second year in a row.

Miller plays guitar during the contest to accompany his son on the fiddle. He said that while he’s on stage panicking, his son has an unwavering confidence and nerves of steel.

“Don’t you wish that confidence never went away,” Macy’s mom remarked.

Macy also has the no-fear attitude and a passion for her newly discovered musical ability.

When she was asked how long she plans to keep playing the fiddle, her answer was “all the way, even when I grow up.”


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