If you love fiddling, you'll be impressed with this Irish national fiddle champion--who just happens to be a child. Mairead Hicky has the innocence that could have placed her on a Little House on the Prairie film set.
Unlike many musicians who concentrate so hard on their music that they forget to smile, Mairead's countenance adds bundles of joy into the already happy music she obviously loves to play.
9 Year Old Mairead at the Kastelania Festival, Poland in 2006
(pay attention to where she goes fast about at about 1:30)
Mairead Up Close
As reported by the Irish Examiner on September 11, 2008.
SHE’S only 12 but already this young virtuoso has won her third national fiddle title.
Mairead Hickey from The Lough in Cork city competed against the best fiddle players in the world at the World Fleadh in Tullamore.
And despite her tender years, Mairead was crowned All Ireland Fiddle Champion — for a remarkable third time — in her under 12 age section in both the slow airs and fast tunes sections.
Mairead, who has started secondary school in Mount Mercy, began playing the violin aged two.
Through the Suzuki method, she learned to love the instrument before enrolling in classes at the Cork School of Music, where she honed her skills under the guidance of Adrian Pectu.
Mairead swept to her first All Ireland title in 2005, and won it again in 2006....
Michael and his wife Clare believe their family’s love of music may have come from Michael’s mother who left Arklow for London during World War II. She played the fiddle and brought him with her as she played with various ceilí bands around London....
Mairead wasn't born playing the violin however. Back in 2000, when she was just 4 years old, the Royal Gazette did an article about her sharing how she worked hard to achieve the level of skill she had even at that age.
At an age when most kids have their heads stuck in Pokemon, four-year-old violinist Mairead Hickey is already a stage veteran.
But far from claiming her daughter is a child prodigy, mother Clare Hatcher says that every kid is capable of such feats, given the right help and encouragement.
Mairead has been learning for the last year under a programme devised by Dr. Shinichi Suzuki and has played numerous recitals as well as appearing on stage with her father Mick Hickey at the Bermuda Folk Club this month -- to rave reviews.
Clare explains: "The whole thing about Suzuki is that they don't believe there is born talent, it's not in your genes, it is because of what you've been exposed to.
"She listens to all sorts and goes to sleep at night listening to music.
"She's always been around music, we've made music a part of her life. I play the penny whistle and Mick plays the banjo and bagpipes.
"When there's a record on I might say can you hear that guitar part or that violin part?'' Mairead was given a tiny violin which set her on her musical path and quickly took to it despite initial doubts.
"The first time she went to her violin lesson she didn't even want to go, but she ended up crying when it was over because she didn't want to leave.
"Mick's mother also plays the fiddle and we have sessions round here.'' Programme builds on natural musical talents of children Mairead gets her lessons at the Bermuda Conservatory of Music which uses the Suzuki method of teaching.
Clare explains: "Suzuki was asked years ago to teach a five-year-old the violin and he said to himself `how can I do this?''' "But one day when he was playing he thought to himself all five-year-old children here can speak Japanese, which is a very difficult thing to do.
"So he came up with this philosophy for teaching young kids.'' The step-by-step approach takes pains not to overwhelm children -- they start with finger exercises before touching the violin.
And when the children finally pick up the fiddle they first do routines to build up neck muscles so they can support it.
Children start playing easy nursery rhymes after hearing them on record.
Harder tunes and learning to read music come later.
"They play finger games to learn to hold their fingers in the way they need to hold them. They give their fingers names and it's made child-friendly.
"You put the Suzuki tape on and before they know it they are singing the tunes.
"You learn in chunks and work your way through the tune.
"Then the practice comes in -we try to get her to practise twice a day for five or ten minutes.
"It's just like brushing your teeth, that's what's involved in an instrument.
"You should only concentrate on one thing at a time, you don't swamp them.
"There's no other way around it except practise but we are not shoving it down her throat. She goes out and plays on the swing like any other child.
"Currently she is tackling Bach's Minuet One but she can also pick out tunes on her own. She knows about 25....''
Unfortunately, we cannot locate a website or even a YouTube channel of Mairead's musical talent. However, she certainly has caught the attention of many and continues to charm and bring joy to thousands with her happy face and fancy fiddling.
Image Credit(s): Youtube