Maggie Dixon, Violin Player
This entry was posted on October 24, 2014.
Interview with Maggie Dixon, Violin Player (Now Maggie O'Connor)
I recently heard Maggie Dixon, Violin Player, perform with Mark O’Connor at the Oak Ridge Symphony season opener concert. She accompanied Mr. O’Connor on his Violin with perfection. When I got home, I listened to You Tubes of Ms. Dixon. Her classical performances are wonderful. And I found her singing voice amazing too!
See interview below, and please also see our more recent Interview with Maggie discussing the making of the O'Connor Duo Music Videos that goes with their new CD "DUO".
Blog by Becky Chaffee, owner Violettes by Becky
Dear Gentle Reader,
In addition to being an extraordinary talent, Ms. Maggie O'Connor is kind and generous! She loves her hand made Violettes by Becky Violin Purse. She took it with her touring with Mark O'Connor before they were married. And she tells us, she still tours with it! ViolettesbyBecky.com makes a quality Gig Bag or Purse which are perfect music gifts for music lovers of any age! Requests welcome.
Shop Here for a Violin Purse (Fiddle/Cello/Bass)
Shop Here for a Guitar Purse (or Ukulele Purse)
Shop Here for Gifts for Piano Players (Grand Piano Purse)
(PS. Purchase a Violin Handbag or Gig bag. And please wish Ms. O'Connor Happy Birthday on Feb. 16!)
1. Violettes: Obviously, you grew up on classical violin. Did you do fiddling growing up too? Or is it relatively new for you?
Ms. Dixon: While I grew up taking classical violin lessons starting at the age of seven from a wonderful woman named Laura Morgulis in GA, I concurrently was participating in a family band with my father and brother! We called ourselves “True Dixon,” and the situation was a beautiful one for a child. While I was able to take technical violin lessons from an amazing old school classical teacher, I was also able to use my instrument creatively. I would be composing my own musical lines within “True Dixon’s” music on the violin. This gave me an immediate creative voice. I was also learning to play bluegrass, blues, and more, where my father taught me how to improvise, allowing me to have more tools for musical creativity.
2. Violettes: Is your technique different for violin and fiddle? And do you improvise on the fiddle too? (Mark O’Connor performed his “The Improvised Violin Concerto” at the Oak Ridge concert.)
Ms. Dixon: Playing different genres of music, in this case American classic musical styles like bluegrass, jazz, and Cajun music to name a few, require a variety of techniques on the violin. I never really think of my instrument as split between a violin and a fiddle, because I am doing the same thing on all of the music I play; understanding musical language and conveying it through the musical style on the instrument. Playing anything on an instrument is about understanding the musical languages that translate from the eras and regions of the musical styles you are playing. For example, different eras of classical music require different styles of performance and interpretation. In the classical genre, playing a piece by Bach has a different stylistic approach than playing a piece by Debussy. Likewise, playing a Cajun piece has a different stylistic approach and skill set than playing jazz requires. I use the same violin technique on all of it, but I would say my attitude and language is what changes from piece to piece!
3. Violettes: Do you have advice for kids who want to start learning to fiddle? Who want to improvise?
Ms. Dixon: The O’Connor Method is perfect for learning the violin for the budding violinist of today’s world. It provides the wonderful opportunities I had as a child all in one method series! All of the technical skills required for learning the violin are there, as well as the tools to learn all of the American styles of music, and yes there is improvising too! There are also method books for viola and cello too! You can find out more at www.oconnormethod.com
4. Violettes: Your singing voice is wonderful. Do you ever sing while you play the violin (at the same time)? How often do you use your voice in performance? You must have had voice lessons growing up? What is your favorite song(s) to sing?
Ms. Dixon: Thank you! Yes as a matter of fact, I do sing and play violin at the same time. In my duo with Mark O’Connor, we play a tune he arranged called “St. Louis Blues” by W.C. Handy straight from The O’Connor Method Book IV, and we sing a verse together while we play the violins! I have started taking singing more seriously recently, so I am still working up some vocal rep and writing tunes, I have written a few already that are still in the works. Growing up I did not sing much at all, but I was in chorus class. In college I began to realize I really enjoyed singing and took some lessons. My favorite song to sing is usually the song I am learning next, but I suppose I always enjoy going back to the jazz standard “I Remember You” by Victor Shertzinger and Johnny Mercer as a close second.
5. Violettes: If you were already fiddling before you met Mr. O’Connor, what have you learned about fiddling from him?
Ms. Dixon: Playing with Mark in itself has made me a better musician, just listening to him and exchanging musical phrases with him has made me a more refined musician in all of the genres we play together, and it has also made me a better musician in the genres we haven’t played together yet. I love the way he phrases things, and his philosophies about music and life. It has been such a wonderful experience having Mark as my violin idol to being his duo partner, and it has been such an honor and privilege to tour with someone so steeped in American musical culture. I have learned so much musical language from him and have been so inspired.
6. Violettes: Do you have future plans for your music career?
Ms. Dixon: Yes! I am touring with Mark O’Connor and am hoping to keep contributing to the world of American Classical string playing, which has always been my passion. Stay tuned with my website www.maggiedixonviolin.com and my facebook musician page, you can search “Maggie Dixon, Violin” (Now called: Maggie O'Connor, Violin)
Maggie will be a co-director at the O'Connor Method Camp Aug. 3-7, 2015 in New York City.
Congratulations to Maggie Dixon, Violin Player, who is now Maggie O'Connor. - maybe we can look forward to a flood of jazz duet books!! Let's see what comes next.