Fiddle me this North River woman has a passion for playing and teaching others
From the time she was a child, listening to the music at the firemen’s picnic, Julie Johnstone wanted to play the fiddle.
Today, she plays at events around the area and teaches others to play.
“I thought fiddling was the coolest thing,” she recalls.
“At the age of eight I started playing classical, but didn’t like it very much. Then I met Lloyd Tattrie. I would listen to him and play things back. I learned a lot from him, and others, like Carl Elliott.”
Growing up in Tatamagouche, she didn’t know any other children her age playing fiddle, but that didn’t cause a problem.
“I think it prevented bullying, in a way,” she said. “I had two recordings and had been on TV by the time I finished school, and I think it gained me a bit of respect.”
Johnstone took business courses in college, teaching fiddle lessons to pay her way.
After graduation, she worked in an office for about four months, and didn’t enjoy it.
Her father encouraged her to quit and teach fiddling to more people.
“I love teaching,” she said. “It really lights my fire seeing people do things they didn’t think they could do. I’m excited when brand
new people, who’ve never played, take lessons.
“Some of them have a fiddle that belonged to a parent or grandparent, and they say they always wanted to play but never had time to learn. Some people played when they were young and are going back to it.”
The majority of her students are females, with all of the adult students at this time being women.
Johnstone enjoys performing and, although she’s known as a fiddler, she sometimes plays classical violin.
She owns a few fiddles, including two that Lloyd Tattrie gifted to her and one her husband made for her.
“The fiddle is something I was drawn to, and I can’t explain it,” she said. “It was just something that spoke to me.”
More information on Johnstone’s music can be found at https://juliejohnstone.ca/
Julie Johnstone was drawn to the fiddle from the time she was a small child. She now plays at events and teaches adults and children to play fiddle.