Swannanoa Celtic Week (how many classes should one take?)

Swannanoa Celtic Week (how many classes should one take?)

I just signed up for 4 classes each day at Swannanoa, a flute class with Nuala Kennedy, a fiddle technique class with Andrew Finn Magill, and a fiddle class with Liz Knowles that extends for two class periods each day.

Is this too much? Will I wear myself out trying to absorb the lessons? On the other hand, since I’ll be down there and have all this available (and play two instruments), it seems hard to not want to take all the classes I can. All the teachers are first rate to boot.

This will be my first time at Swannanoa, have been to Irish Arts Week in the Catskills once.

Thanks in advance for any advice.

Jeff

Re: Swannanoa Celtic Week (how many classes should one take?)

I think that would be too much to absorb in a week, but if you record the entirety of each class, you actually have more like a year (until the next Swannanoa) to absorb it. So I’d say be prepared to feel overwhelmed, and just accept it as part of the price of admission.

Re: Swannanoa Celtic Week (how many classes should one take?)

Immerse yourself. Go for it!
If it’s too much you can always back off.

Re: Swannanoa Celtic Week (how many classes should one take?)

How much about a football team can you absorb?
Will you be getting a game with the first team?

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Re: Swannanoa Celtic Week (how many classes should one take?)

How many classes a day did you have when you were at school and how many subjects? Given the plethora of available recording devices, I would go with hotsauce’s advice, and get stuck in.

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Re: Swannanoa Celtic Week (how many classes should one take?)

Personally, I think it’s too much. I did the same the first time I went there, and there wasn’t enough time to practice, go to the concerts and the dances and hang out with all the fun people, go for a walk in the beautiful woods around there, and have time to eat as well. Never mind going into Asheville for a few hours, which is a really cool town just a few minutes down the road. I remember feeling disappointed in myself that I couldn’t manage it all, but it really was just because I tried to do too much. Second time was much better. I took one two-hour class in the afternoon, and had time for everything.

Keep in mind that the instructors all do extra workshops and lead sessions throughout the week, so even if you don’t take a class, you’ll still likely be able to interact with them.

Pack bug spray and have fun!

Re: Swannanoa Celtic Week (how many classes should one take?)

I’m taking Mandolin I and set dancing in the morning, Liz Carroll’s class in the afternoon. The set dancing is more a "fun" thing to do. I didn’t sign up for another instrumental class since I wanted to make sure I have time to go over what I learned in fiddle class… another would have been too much for me. But, YMMV. 🙂

Re: Swannanoa Celtic Week (how many classes should one take?)

It depends a lot on whether you want to work on technique or just pound tunes. You can always learn tunes from a tape, but for technique you really want to try it on your own after class so that you can correct or reinforce it in the next class. My wife only does the 2-hour afternoon class (teagan, you’ll see her in Liz’s class this year) so she can practice in the mornings, I’ve done 3 1-hours before with one of them being a singing class but this year just 2 1-hour classes. I need all the practice I can get. As others said, the evening schedule is full enough that unless you completely give up eating and sleeping you’ll miss something.

Re: Swannanoa Celtic Week (how many classes should one take?)

Yes, you can drop out if the load proves too much, but many of these classes have waiting lists, and once the week begins, it will be too late for those on the lists to step in.
I will be doing Swannanoa for the first time this year, but am a veteran at several other camps. I will do three one (and a quarter) hour classes this time - one that will be challenging for me, and two that should be much less so. That should be plenty; these camps are so much more than just the instruction.

Re: Swannanoa Celtic Week (how many classes should one take?)

I agree with Kennedy. Swannanoa rocks and you’ll have a good time no matter what, but 4 classes, plus the concerts, workshops, and sessions is really packed. The last two years I took 1 class in the morning and two in the afternoon, which left really just one open period to try to practice a little. Believe me you won’t want to practice at night, the concerts and the after-concert sessions are great. And don’t miss the Highlands Brewing tent every night, right there in the middle of things. Good luck! : )

Re: Swannanoa Celtic Week (how many classes should one take?)

Bug spray?
This year will be my first at Swannanoa. I did sign up for 4 classes, not realizing that it might be too much. Two of the classes are bodhran, so that feels like one longish class that bookends the day. One class is a social study, and one is learning some songs. So…hopefully I paced it properly. I am excited that people on this thread will be there!

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Re: Swannanoa Celtic Week (how many classes should one take?)

In my opinion, Jeff, you may be biting off more than you can chew.
In the Catskills a few years ago, my wife took two fiddle classes, from two different teachers. She found she wasn’t enjoying it, as the teachers had very different styles. So she dropped one of the classes and took stone carving classes from Laura Travis instead, and had lots of fun. And the fiddle teacher she stuck with was Tony DeMarco, so she was in good hands.
When first starting out, at a Gaelic Roots week, I took a beginner’s bodhran class from Myron Breckholtz (I may be spelling his name wrong), which turned out to be great. The bodhran wasn’t for me, but Myron did a great job introducing me to the rhythm of Irish music. So you never know what you will get something out of.
And definitely participate in the concerts and sessions—often your best memories will be something outside of the classroom structure. I would also recommend getting exposure to Irish dancing, especially ceilidhe. You understand the music a lot better if you get a chance to dance to it.
Whatever you do, I am sure you will have a lot of fun! Enjoy!

Re: Swannanoa Celtic Week (how many classes should one take?)

Jeff,

I took 3-4 classes the first year or two that I went to Swannanoa, and have since cut back to 2 classes max. As others have pointed out, four class periods really doesn’t leave you any time to practice between classes or do other things. Depending on your current level, leaving yourself some time to practice may be essential (or not).

The classes are great, but some of the most valuable learning occurs outside of classes in the sessions, late at night, or by chance encounters with people you meet just hanging out. It’s easy to bite off more than you can chew at Swannanoa, but even if you do, you’ll still have a great time.

Perhaps we should organize a Session session at Swanny this year?

Jeff W

Re: Swannanoa Celtic Week (how many classes should one take?)

It might depend on your age. If you’re a teenager you might be able to absorb four classes. I have taken four classes and enjoyed them all, but then there’s no time to practice and really learn anything. But if you’re like me you can’t decide and take them all!