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Peter Hedlunds Nyckelharpskola : Longer

Nyckel Notes, December 2002, Vol. 25

I May Never Play My Fiddle Again
by Elizabeth Morrison

Admittedly, I was never able to make it sing like a lark, but now it sounds like an old crow in comparison to a nyckelharpa! I first heard a live nyckelharpa performance on the last day of November 2001 in Montpelier, Vermont, where Peter Hedlund was playing. I don't remember the name of his first tune but I'll never forget the effect it had on me. Nothing had ever sounded so beautiful, so enchanting, to my ears. Suddenly I was alone in that room, transfixed by the nyckelharpa and its music. Tears pricked my eyes ... so THIS is where I've been headed!

Obtaining a nyckelharpa did not happen as easily as my decision to play one, but once I found my way to the ANA, I discovered a wealth of information about this amazing instrument. I also found a new family. Everyone I contacted was so friendly and generous with helpful suggestions to guide me on this path—there was light at the end of the tunnel! In just a few months, I was on Sören Åhker's waiting list and had received a loaner harpa to get started with while I waited for one of my very own!

I may not have been so completely mesmerized by this instrument if anyone other than Peter had been playing that evening in Vermont. Since he is the responsible musician, it’s fitting that he should teach me to play it, but considering that I'd be traveling to Sweden for lessons, this would be a difficult proposition. Luckily for me, the solution to this dilemma came in the form of instructional DVDs starring Peter!

I'm usually fairly uncomfortable during private lessons—such close scrutiny is almost more than I can bear. In these situations, my brain tends to shut down, leaving me fumbling for notes and forgetting what I've practiced so many times. Group workshops are easier on the nerves but not ideal for learning the fine details of playing a tune in any given style. The DVDs provide a new category of teaching, combining some of the best features of private and group lessons and eliminating the worst. It’s as though they were custom made for my own particular learning style.

These DVDs are works of art, skillfully filmed and produced by Rita Leydon. They are a pleasure to view both for learning purposes and pure entertainment! The presentation is in a minimalist format. Peter and his nyckelharpa are framed by a dark background; Peter dressed in dark clothing. The nyckelharpa glows. Rita and Peter have recreated, on film, the effect of my first experience with the instrument! With no distractions, it's exceptionally easy to focus on the task at hand. At first, the task at hand for me was to learn how to hold the harpa and bow, and tuning the instrument. Peter covers these skills right off and adds some exercises to warm up with.

Though there is no direct personal interaction, the experience is very much like having an extended private lesson. Peter obligingly plays and replays the tune in slow tempo until I finally get it! He also plays it at normal speed, adding double stops, trills, and variations to demonstrate how one might expand the tune. You can even change the angle of the camera to view just his left hand for the fingering. What&Mac226;s more, Peter is always available whenever I need to review a tune, fingering, or bowing or if I just need someone to play with.

Peter is an excellent teacher. He presents the lessons in a thoughtful progression of tunes, each an "exercise" introducing a new skill to work with. In the text portion of the DVDs, he writes a bit about each tune—where it came from, what new skill you'll be learning, and pertinent technical hints. Also included in the text portion are the transcriptions of each tune and the English pronunciation of the titles for those of us who need them. There are preview samples of tunes in the next DVDs and surprise videos of Peter and his harpa and friends in action at the end of DVD #2.

Many thanks to Rita and Peter for producing these invaluable DVDs. I'm thoroughly enjoying this learning experience. Just one question, how soon can I get the next one?

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Fiddler Magazine, Fall 2001, Vol. 8, No. 3
by Patrice George

Anyone interested in Sweden's unique bowed instrument, the Nyckelharpa, can now take a two-hour master class through their computer, with this beautiful new DVD. Peter "Puma" Hedlund, two-time world champion of the chromatic nyckelharpa, and Rita Leydon, an American designer, and nyckelharpa player, have released the first of an intended three-volume set, to share the technique and repertoire of the "keyed fiddle". The nyckelharpa has grown in popularity world wide thanks to internationally known Swedish folk-music bands like Väsen. There are over 100 hundred players in the USA already. This DVD disc includes an elementary lesson with Hedlund, filmed in both full-figure postion, and left-hand position views. Twelve classic tunes for nyckelharpa are introduced, in both slow and regular tempo. Choose between English or Swedish language instruction, supported by text and music transcriptions that can be printed through Adobe Acrobat PDF files. A special gummed label for your nyckelharpa or fiddle case is also included. Although the goal of this DVD is to help nyckelharpa students without access to a master teacher, regular fiddlers will also appreciate this as an introduction to Swedish instrumental folk music.

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Fiddler Magazine, Winter 2002/2003, Vol. 9, No. 4
by Brendan Taaffee

Peter Hedlund, Nyckelharpskola, Voume II

I will preface this by admitting that I had to have a five year old show me how to work the DVD machine, and that I was happy I swallowed my pride to do so. This is the second in a series of instructional DVDs for Swedish nyckelharpa playing, and takes the student on to more challenging pieces. If your only experience with video instruction is the Homespun tapes, this is a much more polished and flexible medium. You can choose between camera angles, either seeing the full player or just his left hand, choose languages (Swedish or English), and opt for a slow or at tempo version of the tune you are learning. And the visual presentation is very well done, with Hedlund set against a black background so that he seems to be floating. It means that there's nothing to distract you from what he's doing, which is a good thing.

The body of nyckelharpa players is probably a small one, and has likely been anxiously awaiting this release. But there's something to be had here for fiddle players as well, as Hedlund, a two-time world champion on chromatic nyckelharpa, goes over bowing and presents a lot (fifteen to be precise) of tasty tunes in an easy to learn fashion. Happy sawing.

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Folkdansaren, Nr. 3, 2001, (web magazine)
Peter Hedlunds Nyckelharpskola, Dvd-skiva:

Mästaren ger harplektioner i din tv
av Henrik Lundqvist

Så sitter han där. Den flerfaldige världsmästaren i nyckelharpa. Han har harpan i knät och pratar till mig med en lugn, avspänd röst. Peter Hedlund, förmodligen mer känd som Puma, har lovat att lära mig spela nyckelharpa. Han spelar låtar först långsamt, sedan snabbt. När jag blir osäker på vad han gör med vänsterhanden ber jag honom att visa det särskilt tydligt. Men om detta vet Peter själv ingenting. Jag tittar nämligen på en inspelning. Det är den första delen av hans nyckelharpskola, och mig veterligen den första nyckelharpskolan sedan Leif Alpsjö presenterade sina häften och kassetter i mitten av 70-talet. Peter har inte nöjt sig med häften och ljud- och videokassetter. Han har spelat in sig själv på film och lagrat det på en dvd-skiva. Dvd-skivan kan spelas upp i en dator som har dvd-spelare (ser ut som en vanlig cd-spelare, men är märkt "DVD") eller i en dvd-spelare som är ansluten till en tv. En av fördelarna med att använda dvd som informationsbärare istället för en videokassett är att det går att lagra en massa extra information på skivan. Det visar sig här exempelvis genom att du kan få Peter att prata engelska i stället för svenska. Dessutom innehåller skivan noter till de tolv låtarna som Peter lär ut, och ett texthäfte. Häftet kan antingen läsas på skärmen eller skrivas ut. I texten finns utförliga förklaringar till sådant han nämner på inspelningen. En riktigt finurlig funktion är att du kan välja mellan två bildvinklar. Antingen visar han sig i helfigur så att du ser stråkföring och instrumenthållning, eller så kan du välja att få se en närbild av vänsterhanden. Den kanske mest uppenbara fördelen med dvd-skivan jämfört med en videokassett är att det är enkelt och går snabbt att hoppa mellan olika avsnitt, för att exempelvis repetera en låt du håller på att lära dig. Låturvalet är pedagogiskt klokt för nybörjare. Den första låten spelas på en sträng, den andra kräver två strängar. Sedan kommer låtar som kräver vänsterhandsförflyttningar och mot slutet så en låt som utnyttjar dubbelgrepp. Peter spelar låtarna först långsamt, sedan i normaltempo. I den långsamma versionen spelar han en "naken" version av låten utan drillar och andra utsmyckningar. I normalversionen läggar han till dessa så att du får en uppfattning om hur låten kan spelas i sin färdiga version. Han är föredömligt noga med att påpeka att hans spelsätt bara är en variant, och att det finns en uppsjö sätt att spela låtarna på.

Skivan kostar 750 kronor. Även om det är mycket pengar är det faktiskt inte mycket dyrare än alternativet, Leif Alpsjös texthäften och ljud- och videokassetter. Dessutom är detta en mer effektiv inlärningsmetod. I höst kommer nummer två av skolan och så småningom blir det också en tredje del.

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