Sweeping vibrations and “exhilarating nerves” could not have been a better combination to win two state competitions and achieve the runner up title at nationals. At least, that is what it took for one gifted North Idaho College fiddler.
NIC student Ashley Dreyer has been playing the fiddle for seven years. She said she instantly fell in love with the music when her family took a trip to a Bluegrass Music Festival when she was 12. Her passion for the fiddle has flourished ever since.
In 2017 alone, Dreyer won first place in the Idaho Open Fiddle Competition, first place in the Colorado State Competition, and second place in the National Oldtime Fiddlers’ Contest.
The first and only time she competed in the Idaho Open Fiddle Competition before this year, Dreyer did not make the first cut, let alone place in the top five.
“It was really redeeming to go back and actually win it this year,” Dreyer said. “It felt really good.”
As a fiddler from Idaho, Dreyer was encouraged to participate in the Colorado State Competition by two of her former fiddle teachers.
“I had gone once before, and this year I decided I had to go back because it was so much fun,” Dreyer said. “So I just bought a plane ticket and went. It’s really cool because it’s in Denver during the National Western Stock Show, which is a huge event. It’s a fun venue for a contest. That one was fun to win because it was far away and out of state.”
Dreyer said she has been competing in the National Oldtime Fiddlers’ Contest since she was 13 years old, and her very first year she took 50th place. As she continued to work hard, she slowly moved up the ranks and landed a spot in the top five.
“I was really calm this year,” Dreyer said. “I was just able to have fun and not care as much about how I did in the contest, and then I ended up doing my best.”
As Dreyer continues to pursue her passion, she said her biggest goal is that she wants to start moving towards professional musician gigs.
“A lot of contest fiddlers only do contests and they only know how to play that one genre of music, so I really want to work towards expanding my repertoire of genres,” Dreyer said. “I’m really excited and I have a lot of really fun gigs this month. I’m playing in three of the concerts here at NIC, I’m playing at the Bartlett in Downtown Spokane at the end of this month, and I’m playing at the Coeur d’Alene Fall Fest.”
Dreyer’s hard work and efforts have started to pay off, but she does not plan on stopping there.
“I could never stop. I’ve put so much effort into it. It’s what I love,” the fiddler said.
She also went further and said that her favorite part about fiddling used to be competing, but now it is performing. The connection she feels to herself when she plays and the connection to the audience are what make her love what she does.
“I love entertaining people,” Dreyer said. “I love playing for people and having that connection. That is the best feeling.”