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Oliveburg teen continues his success playing fiddle

October 21, 2011

Ryan Sutter, 18, holds the fiddle passed down to him from his grandfather, Bill Neal, that helped earn him third place at the teen fiddle competition at the Autumn Leaf Festival Oct. 1 in Clarion. (Photo by Dan Long/The Punxsutawney Spirit)

OLIVEBURG — The old-time hoedown style music is not completely absent from today’s youth, as evidenced by Ryan Sutter, 18, who is already an accomplished fiddle player.

A resident of Oliveburg, Ryan has been playing the fiddle for the past four years and has already shown vast improvement, such as taking third place in the teen division during Clarion’s annual Autumn Leaf Festival.
Sutter began playing while his brother was taking guitar lessons from the music studio of Kim Thomas. That’s when Sutter decided he wanted to take up fiddle, which was a good idea, since his family already had a fiddle that belonged to his grandfather, Bill Neal, who had played fiddle for most of his life.

These days, Sutter practices for about 45 minutes per day.

Three years ago, he entered the state fiddle contest to put his skills to the test. That year, he did not place, but with continued practice, he took second the following year.

At the Autumn Leaf Festival earlier this month, players from around the state showed up to showcase their talents, each receiving five minutes to play three songs — a hoedown, a waltz and a piece of his or her choice — without the use of any charts.

For his personal piece, Sutter impressed the judges when he played “Tom & Jerry” to secure third place in the teen division.

“I thank God for giving me the gift, and my instructor, Kim, for helping me,” he said. “I also thank my parents for their encouragement.”

Sutter said he’s not sure what his next step is with playing the fiddle, but he plans to continue playing.

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