Fast and Spirited…The Canadian Fiddle Tradition

On Thursday nights in Kitchener, the practice room is busy with fiddlers of all ages preparing to rehearse as members of the Karen Reed Fiddle Orchestra.

Before the practice begins, fiddles are being tuned and animated talk turns to the music to be played.  Arlo, the 15-year-old pianist at the keyboard is ready to accompany, while Karen, the director shares some last minute instructions. At her command and her count, the rehearsal begins.

So what brings 8 and 13 year old musicians out to play with adults the age of their parents and even grandparents? Simply the love and joy of fiddle music and the deep-seated bonds that this community shares.

As it’s name suggests, this 34-member orchestra is under the tutelage of renowned Canadian fiddler, Karen Reed. As a youngster from Sudbury Ontario, Karen joined her Reed siblings competing in musical events, and playing in their family band. They travelled the summer fiddle contest circuit, played every weekend and each earned a Canadian fiddle championship. When Karen is asked what keeps her going, she responds, “ It is all about the passion for sharing Canadian fiddle music, by igniting energy among musicians while at the same time preserving its long time tradition”.

Music in the Canadian fiddle tradition is generally learned and played by ear. The tunes are played so that the accents and style are preserved through the generations.  So what challenges a fiddler in an orchestra setting?  Reading music.  Some fiddlers colour code notes, some place numbered fingers on the music.

In the end, the Karen Reed Fiddle Orchestra performs musical arrangements that are true to the fiddle tradition with enthusiasm, energy and joie de vivre!         

If you want the answer to the question: “What is the difference between a violin and a fiddle?”  You are invited to find out.  

Here is a peak of our 2019 concerts 

Spring 2019 – Rakes of Kildare

Christmas 2019 – Let it Snow

                    Sprng Waterloo Concert


Tickets available now  at or email

Visitor Parking at Luther Village Sunshine Centre and at the Waterloo Rec Centre

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