About the SCVFA
Who We Are
Download the PDF version of Who We Are
The Santa Clara Valley Fiddlers Association (SCVFA) is a state and federal non-profit, all volunteer-operated public-benefit organization dedicated to the preservation, teaching, and enjoyment of traditional music for the fiddle and other instruments. The SCVFA was founded in 1973 in San Jose, California.
The purpose of the organization is to carry on activities intended to revive, study and perpetuate “that traditional music that constitutes the cultural heritage of our forefathers”. We perform and teach a wide variety of styles including old-time, country music, bluegrass, western swing, Celtic, Scandinavian and other traditional styles. Our music is played on acoustic instruments such as fiddles, guitars, banjos, mandolins, string basses, accordions and harmonicas. On the first Sunday of each month we hold a “jam” (see below) that’s open to all. Participants, who may play or just listen, often range in age from under 8 to over 80.
As of 2016 we have about 180 members in 125 households, mostly in the greater San Francisco Bay Area, ranging from San Francisco, Oakland and Livermore to the north, to Gilroy and Santa Cruz to the south.
What We Do
As our founder Bill Wein put it, ”music self-played is happiness self-made.” Most of our activities involve performing music, and teaching and learning tunes and technique. Members and guests play in small groups at the monthly jam, outside and on our small stage. Members also perform, by arrangement, at various community events and at community venues such as senior centers and retirement facilities. Payments received for such performances help fund our activities — particularly our youth program.
Any individual interested in traditional music can join the SCVFA. Learn more about SCVFA Membership.
The Fiddlers Rag is the SCVFA’s monthly newsletter. This 8-page publication is mailed to members only.
Back issues of the newsletter are available online in .pdf format.
Since 1973 our jam has been held in San Jose on the first Sunday of each month, from 1pm—5pm.
The jam offers attendees a chance to hear and play music together in informal groups that gather outside. When we meet at Hoover Middle School during the school year where we also offer an “open mic”. In June and July, the jam moves to the San Jose Rose Garden. Two learning groups led by experienced musicians help beginning and intermediate players learn tunes, technique, and the ins and outs of playing together.
One of our goals is to encourage young people to learn traditional tunes and musical styles. Besides welcoming young musicians to join us, we offer periodic KidFiddle workshops led by local fiddle instructors. This program is primarily funded by fees for our performances in the community and by donations to the SCVFA. We are a registered 501(c)(3) organization, so donations are generally tax-deductible.
The Founding of the SCVFA
The Santa Clara Valley Fiddlers Association was started by Bill Wein, a fiddler from Vermont. Bill came out to California when he got a job at General Electric in San Jose in 1973. At that time he placed an ad in the San Jose Mercury News to contact others who also had an interest in fiddling and traditional music.
The five original members were Bill Wein, Guy Jones, Joe de Puis, Ed Pagter, and Jack Sadler who is still an active member. With this core group, the Santa Clara Valley Fiddlers Association was formed in early 1973. The group conducted monthly jam sessions at various locations for the first year. By early 1974 John Muir Middle School in San Jose was secured for the monthly jamboree.
In 1975, the Santa Clara Valley Fiddlers Association was incorporated as a non-profit organization in the State of California. In 1976, founding members Ed Pagter and Jack Sadler were part of a group who formed a related organization: the California Bluegrass Association.
Mission Statement from the SCVFA By-Laws:
“The purpose of the Santa Clara Valley Fiddlers Association shall be to establish, maintain, perpetuate, preserve, promote and carry on any activity requisite to the gathering, revival, study, publication, preservation, reconstruction and furtherance of that traditional music which constitutes the cultural heritage of our forefathers and which is exemplified in the playing of the fiddle, guitar, banjo, mandolin, string bass, and other associated musical instruments and devices in the tunes handed down as old-time fiddling music, mountain music, gospel music, and variations that incorporate other traditional fiddling styles, with particular emphasis on these music forms as developed in the State of California and other adjacent areas of the western region of the United States of America. In accomplishing the stated purpose, the major emphasis of the SCVFA shall be to emphasize the skillful use of the fiddle in these music forms.”