Five years after winning her first Small Fry Division at the National Oldtime Fiddlers’ Contest in Weiser, Grace Partridge, 12, has now won the Junior Junior Division.
Meanwhile, Jacie Sites, 37, added another title to her list of accomplishments, winning her first Adult Division title at the same event, which was held June 14 to June 24.
Now both Rigby residents are preparing to head to the Grand Master Fiddle Championship, in Nashville, Tenn., this September.
Partridge, daughter of Ryan and Jen Partridge, has been playing a fiddle since she was four years old. She said she was happy to earn her first national Junior Junior title.
“It feels good,” she said.
Partridge is no stranger to competition. As a seven-year-old she took a national title, then she repeated as champion in 2013, before moving up to the Junior Junior Division. Even with older competition in the division, she was immediately a top-5 competitor.
She said that the secret to her success is plain old hard work.
“Yep, just practice,” she said.
Partridge practices a half-hour to an hour every day. The weight of traveling to the Grand Master tournament isn’t lost on her.
“I’m really excited, but I’m very nervous,” she said.
She looks up to her teacher, Sites. She said that she wants to earn a Grand Master title like Jacie, and she is looking forward to compiling a CD with her teacher.
Sites, fresh off her victory in Weiser, said that the Adult title means a lot. It was the first time she was able to compete in the division. Those aged 18 to 36 compete in the Young Adult Division.
“I’ve been waiting for about 22 years for this so I was pretty excited,” she said. “It was fun to get to win one of the big divisions.”
This will be the second time Sites is heading to Nashville. In 2012 she became a Grand Champion. This time, she’s going to be a judge in the competition, which she doesn’t mind at all.
“It’s going to be fun,” she said.
A big bonus for her is taking nine of her students, including Partridge, to the competition.
Partridge was a kind of project for Sites. They began lessons together when Partridge was just four years old, for a half an hour, three times a week. The girl began on a 1/16th-scale fiddle, then went up to a three-quarter-scale fiddle, and now plays a regular full size one.
Sites said that she is proud of Partridge’s work so far.
“She stuck to it and she’s been a really good student,” she said.
As for Partridge, she said that she enjoys the music and the people she meets in competition.
“All the friends you make playing the fiddle, and going on stage and performing is really fun,” she said.