The Quebe Sisters are an American fiddle Western swing group from Dallas, Texas. The band consists of sisters Grace, Sophia and Hulda Quebe, and in this interview we sit down with them to learn more about the group’s past, present, and what they have planned for the future.
What inspired you to get started with music?
Hulda: Well, we got started playing music by hearing fiddle music at a fiddle contest. We had played a little bit of Suzuki classical and taken some lessons but when we heard fiddling at this contest, we really fell in love with it and started taking lessons and started going to fiddle contests. That’s kind of how we got started.
Grace: My sisters and I got into playing music because our mom was very interested in us taking violin lessons. She loved the violin. But she didn’t know what fiddling was, and we didn’t either. We started taking private violin lessons, really enjoyed it, and then we went to a fiddle contest. It looked like so much fun. We found out that they were fiddle teachers and we all started taking private lessons and that’s how we got into doing what we do today.
So, did you take private lessons?
Grace: You know, my sisters and I did take private lessons growing up. We started pretty young. Sophia was around nine or ten. Hulda was seven. I was 12. We took fiddle lessons for years and years. Then it kind of morphed into a mentorship with our teacher also playing guitar with us on the road. We’d travel together as a band. And these days my sisters and I find if we’re working on a new skill, or trying to acquire a new technique, we’ll just go find that teacher that excels in that area and learn a new vocal technique, or learn a new violin bowing technique. So whatever we need, we still take lessons to this day.
Do you play any other instruments besides fiddle?
Hulda: Sophia plays a little bit of guitar. I dabble in guitar. We dabble in other instruments, but we don’t play them professionally or on stage.
Okay. What is it like to perform with your siblings and was there much sibling rivalry growing up and competing in championships together?
Hulda: We did compete against each other growing up, a lot. It depended on our age and what division we were in together but we spent a lot of time competing against each other, but it was a lot of fun for us. We feel really fortunate to be sisters ’cause we really inspire each other a lot. If somebody didn’t want to practice that day, the other person would be like, “Okay you gotta practice.” We feel really fortunate we had that opportunity and still do to this day that we get to play music together.
A lot of people probably ask you, what is the difference between violin and fiddle?
Sophia: I would say the difference between a violin and a fiddle is just the style of music that you play on it. Typically, on the violin, it’s classical music. And then usually people call it a fiddle if they’re playing country music, or folk music, or Celtic music, or any other style, generally, than classical. Sometimes jazz violinists will call it a violin. But they’re the same.
Western swing is such an interesting and fun genre of music, how would you describe it and what other groups are you inspired by?
Sophia: I would describe Western Swing as Jazz music played on Country Instruments, like the steel guitar and the fiddle and things like that. Actually the founder of Western Swing, Bob Wills, he’s from Texas, he wanted to call it Western Jazz. But it’s heavily influenced by a whole bunch of different styles like Blues, early string band music, obviously early country music and Folk, all blends into together into the melting pot that is Western Swing.
Great. Your group has been lucky to perform with some American music legends. Can you list some of those and do you have any fun stories?
Hulda: Oh, man. We have been super fortunate to get to meet some of our musical heroes and get to know some of them pretty well. I remember the first time playing the Grand Olde Opry. I happened to be 13 at the time and getting to play on the Opry stage was just awesome. Getting to walk backstage and meet the players that played on all the famous sessions. I remember meeting Connie Smith for the first time. We’ve become friends with her since then, and she was just a sweetheart. It’s one of those moments where they’re larger than life, and then you realize, “Oh, they’re just normal people” but they’re awesome!
Music and Arts is a strong advocate for music education. How do you feel about the importance of it and what advice would you give to a parent helping someone get started?
Grace: Well, I’m really glad to hear that Music and Arts is a big promoter of music education. I think that’s great. My sisters and I grew up playing together as kids and it’s been a wonderful enrichment to our lives and it’s been a lot of fun. Now we get to do it as our jobs, so there are many side benefits of that. I would say to any parent that wants to encourage their child to find what their child is interested in and then to encourage them in whatever style, and too, to find music that the parent and the child have in common so they do it together. Cause that’s always good to have some, especially when they’re young, that’s helping them, that can do it with them, and help them and encourage them.
That’s great. If you visited a Music and Arts store today, what would be your top three must have accessories for fiddle?
Hulda: Mine would be a tuning fork. I love tuning forks.
Sophia: I agree with tuning forks. But I also think it’s really good to tune with a digital tuner as well, so I keep digital tuners everywhere I need to be, as well as a tuning fork. And then we also practice a lot with a metronome.
Perfect. What is your advice for any beginning string player?
Hulda: My advice for a young musician is to listen to as much music as possible. Good music. All different styles. And go to live music concerts. I personally am always really inspired when I get to see a really good show. Even if it’s something I’m not super familiar with, I’ll always learn something from it. We just spent a couple days in New York City this past week and we went to a bunch of shows and it was wonderful. It was really inspiring.
What advice do you have for anyone wanting to make a career in the music industry?
Grace: Okay. My advice for anyone that wants to make a career in the music industry would be to make a lot of contacts as soon as possible if you know that’s where you want to go. If you’re interested in pursuing music as a career, I would say, go out, meet people, go to shows, meet teachers, learn, ask a lot of questions. Just make yourself available in that world. Make a good support group, and that’s how you get started.
Tell us about your experience here with the Weinberg Center.
Hulda: We love coming to Maryland and getting to play. We love the East Coast. It’s beautiful and people out here really support music a lot. It’s our first time here to the Weinberg center. We are really looking forward to the show tonight. This is a beautiful room, so we’re really excited about it.
What does the future hold for you? Any upcoming exciting events or album releases or anything?
Sophia: This year we’re working on a new album and we actually spent time this past week touring studios, so the ball is rolling. We’re really excited about that and just creating new material. That’s probably our biggest project for this year amongst all the touring that we are continuing to do.
Hulda: Yeah. And we’re also doing a ton of touring. We have a really busy schedule for this year and beginning of next year.
Grace: If anyone wants to come out and catch a show, we’d love to have them. They can find out tour schedule at our website Quebesisters.com.