The Fiddlin' Workshop

Lessons Workshops Performances

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Jeanine R. Orme was born in Ogden, Utah. She began playing the violin at age five and started fiddling at age 8, performing with the Utah Old-Time Fiddlers. She performed for community and civic functions throughout Utah. She graduated from Weber State in 1986 with a B.S. in Business Administration-Marketing and a minor in Music.

Her musical training includes classical piano and violin and she has specialized in oldtime fiddling, Texas-style fiddling, bluegrass fiddle, and Western swing. She began competing in fiddle contests at the age of eleven. As a teenager she began studying Texas-style and Western swing fiddling with Herman Johnson, five time National Fiddle Champion in Shawnee, Oklahoma. She has transcribed hundreds of fiddle tunes from the playing of Herman Johnson and other fiddlers.

Jeanine is the author of three music collections for Mel Bay Publications, Inc.:
The Fiddlin’ Workshop, Herman Johnson-Master Fiddler and Texas-Style Fiddlin’ Workshop.

Along with raising three children Jeanine has been teaching fiddle lessons for over twenty-five years and has performed as a solo artist, and as a member of various groups for community, civic, and private functions throughout Utah and Oregon. In 2003 and 2005 she performed Benefit Concerts for the Northwest Autism Foundation.

She has competed regularly at the Weiser National Old-Time Fiddle Contest, as well as other state and local contests. She is a past Utah State Champion, three time Oregon State Young Adult Division Champion and three time Adult Division Champion. She has also served as a judge at the Weiser National Oldtime Fiddle Contest and other regional fiddle contests.

She enjoys teaching fiddle workshops and group classes. She has taught workshops for the Utah Oldtime Fiddlers, Oregon Oldtime Fiddlers, Weiser National Oldtime Fiddle Contest, and fiddle camps in her teaching studio.

Jeanine is currently developing collections of tunes for twin fiddles (duets) and a series of Fiddle teaching books and music theory workbooks for violin students. She has an interest in arranging folk songs and fiddle tunes for small ensembles and youth orchestras. Other interests include studying music theory, improvisation, Be-bop jazz, Django gypsy jazz, Blues, Irish and Scottish fiddle styles. She also enjoys playing classical music in community orchestras in the Portland area.

Jeanine currently resides in the Portland, Oregon area with her family.

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Jeanine's memories of Herman Johnson:

I had the opportunity to visit with my friend and mentor, Herman Johnson, in September of 2007 and I thought that it would be worthwhile for the fiddle community to get to know him better. As I talked to young fiddlers and their parents at Weiser, many are not familiar with Herman Johnson who has contributed so much to contest fiddling in our country. A brief history of Herman follows along with an update of what he is doing now.

Herman was born on May 10, 1920 on a farm near Sparks, Oklahoma. Herman was the youngest child in a family of musicians. His father, grandfather, and two uncles were fiddlers. Without his father knowing, Herman learned to play on his father’s fiddle when he was about eight years old. Soon he developed a reputation as a fine player. He played with his brothers in a group called the Johnson Boys. Throughout their lives he and his brother Cecil often played twin fiddles. Herman entered his first fiddle contest at the age of 12 and remembers playing the hoedown “Blue Flame”.

Like many other fiddlers he learned tunes by listening to records and the radio. Herman was always a great admirer of Bob Wills and would listen to his playing on the radio. When he was 16 his uncle took him to a Bob Wills dance in Coffeyville, Kansas to play for Bob Wills. Bob was impressed with his playing, but at the time Herman was too young to join the musicians union. Even though Herman did not become a Texas Playboy, he was inspired by Bob Wills.

Herman met Mary Jane Bartosh at a dance when they were 17. Herman was playing fiddle in the dance band. Herman and Jane began to date and two years later, in 1939, they were married. They became the parents of four children.

Herman played in various western swing dance bands, the best of which was an eleven piece group called “Herman Johnson and the Melodiers”. Herman played with the Oklahoma Ragtimers for station KGFF in Shawnee, and later with the Harmony Boys who broadcast daily over station KRRV, in Sherman, TX. During the war from 1944-46 Herman served in the U.S. Army, being stationed part of the time in Europe where he did some playing to entertain the troops in Germany. After returning from his military service Herman gave up being a professional musician and made his career as a machinist at Tinker Air Force Base in Midwest City, Oklahoma, until he retired in 1974.

In about 1960 he started playing more seriously in fiddle contests and would often travel with Ralph McGraw to contests in Oklahoma and Texas. At age 48, in 1968, he won his first national championship at Weiser, ID. He won the championship in 1968, 1969, 1973, 1977, and 1978. He won first place every year he entered at Weiser, and is the only person to be undefeated in that contest. He won many other championships including the Grand Masters in Nashville, TN, the Oklahoma State Championship, the World Series of Fiddling in Langley, OK, and the World Championship in Crocket, TX. He stood out from other fiddlers as a gentleman who wore a suit and played with a smooth, accurate and innovative style. Over the past 25 years he has served as a judge in countless contests and has spent time working with young people in his home and at fiddle camps. He has been generous with his knowledge, his time, and his talents. Herman has also been honored in the Sacramento Western Swing Society Hall of Fame, and in the Seattle Western Swing Society Pioneers of Western Swing Hall of Fame.

In the late 1990’s Jane’s health condition made it necessary for Herman to become a full time care giver to his wife. She passed away in April of 2003. Herman continued to work with young fiddlers at his home and kept busy jamming with his friends. In March of 2005 he suffered a stroke and has been working on rehabilitation for the past three years. Herman has some difficulty with coordination in his left hand and leg. He hasn’t played much on his beloved fiddle and walking is still a struggle. He gets daily phone calls and encouragement from a special friend, Delores Wallis, who he first knew when they were in high school.

I have been privileged to have Herman as a teacher and mentor for over 25 years. I have spent many memorable days learning from Herman and jamming with him. I hope that young fiddlers will appreciate the contribution that he has made to contest fiddling whenever they play Herman’s compositions such as “Herman’s Rag”, “A Little Bit of Swing”, and “Cold Rolled Steel”.

About 10 years ago I put together a collection of transcriptions of Herman Johnson’s playing including transcriptions of a studio recording “Simply Perfect”. The book “Herman Johnson Master Fiddler” is available from Mel Bay Publications.