The Four Foot Four

Ceilidh and Barn dance in Somerset and beyond

Maggie Wheat: fiddle

Iím Maggie Wheat and I play the fiddle in the band (Iím the one without a beard). Iíve been playing since I was 5 and I also play the piano and the recorder. I play 1st Violin in the Mid-Somerset orchestra, sing and sometimes conduct the Village Voices Community Choir based in Pilton, lead the Pilton Hand bell ringing group and regularly lead the sessions for a folk group of up to 18 people in Coxley near Wells, many of them having learnt to play an instrument since retirement which is just fantastic.

I started life in Yorkshire, went to college in Nottingham and have been in Somerset ever since, eventually settling in Pilton which has been my home for around 40 years. Itís a village with great sense of community and is a quiet and calm place except of course in June when the Glastonbury Festival takes place. With the Pyramid Stage so close, it is said that the vibes are all around and thereís certainly a lot going on musically all the year round in this area.

For many years I was a Primary teacher with responsibility for Music and the Arts, a job I loved, especially in inspiring childrenís creativity. Now I am retired I am just as busy doing all the things I choose to do and learning new things-yoga, tap and modern dance, creative textiles, designing and making things, reading, being a grandma and music making. I cannot imagine a life without music. My latest new thing is joining Four Foot Four. Along my musical way Iíve played and sung lots of folk music, but have never been in a ceilidh band before. Itís great fun. I became involved through knowing Colin and being head hunted!

My musical influences have been many and varied over a very long period of time, but I do think that early encouragement from a much loved musical auntie with a wicked sense of humour was the biggest influence. I have always been fascinated by the effect music has- especially in bringing people together and raising their spirits (or a pint of beer if weíre thinking of Four Foot Four!)

I enjoy most kinds of music to play, sing and listen to, but music with a strong rhythm and fast pace along with an interesting melody appeals most, whatever type of music it might be. It makes me happy. Although I am definitely a cup half full person, my favourite key has always been D minor which is considered melancholy, but for me thereís something special about it.

When I am asked the difference between a violin and a fiddle, I reply that it is the same instrument played differently , but I do like the idea that a violin sings and a fiddle dances and that a violin is just a fiddle with attitude.