What’s it like to go to traditional music week or weekend schools?

What’s it like to go to traditional music week or weekend schools?

I am starting to think that next year we may dare to try Beauly or some other venue where we can ‘up our game’ on fiddle/keyboard, such as the Durham school at the Sage Centre, Gateshead. We’re not very good, but we’re not the ‘absolute beginners’ that are ruled out. But we’re pretty terrified - what can one expect? I’m interested in hearing any experiences from Sessioneers who’ve been to instrumental-improvement summer schools, camps or hells. How best to prepare? What mistakes to avoid, social and musical.
Just something to fill in the blank prospect at present blinding me.

What’s it *like* (she asked, quivering)?

Re: What’s it like to go to traditional music week or weekend schools?

Well, you dared to ask the question. I had been wondering about it myself…

Re: What’s it like to go to traditional music week or weekend schools?

Many of the students from "SC&T" here in Aberdeen go regularly to the Beauly event, including one of my flute students who also plays keyboards. Every single one of them has had nothing but praise for it, both musically and socially, and they keep going back, so I think you’d enjoy it.
I’ll get back about some of your other queries in a wee while, but really, they’re nothing to be scared of. Go for it.

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Re: What’s it like to go to traditional music week or weekend schools?

What is the Beauly event? Can anyone give me a link to it?

Re: What’s it like to go to traditional music week or weekend schools?

Mikethebook, try www.blazininbeauly.com.

I’d recommend anyone at whatever level who wishes to broaden their experience and enjoy themselves to consider going to a music camp. Even if you come away with only one musical item/gem you have learned it will have been worth it, and you will have learnt so much more about playing and interacting musically with other people.

Re: What’s it like to go to traditional music week or weekend schools?

They should not be terrifying at all. They’re good fun. The first time I went to one, I didn’t even play the pipes, so I was more of a beginner than you, and it got me hooked. As a beginner, you can invaluable lessons from those summer schools and trad weekends, and the craic is pretty epic as well, although the main risk is spending the week stumbling around like a sleep-deprived, hungover zombie.

Re: What’s it like to go to traditional music week or weekend schools?

I’m with the "go for it" group…

A few suggestions / comments….

Go for a one-day or weekend school for your first time. A whole week is hard work!

I find that the vast majority of players you are likely to meet are helpful, constructive, etc etc - provided that they are approached in an equally constructive style / manner.

Take a notebook, plus some manuscript paper, and a good supply of pencils. You would not believe the number of pencils I have lent to the person next to me and either they forget to return or I forget that I have lent it….it’s not the cost of the pencils, it’s not having one when I need it!

Don’t be afraid to ask if you have a problem / need it to be taken slower / whatever. You are probably not the only one.

As said by DonaldK, if you come away with just one thing to work on / improve your playing it is worth it. As an aside, a teacher told me that I should choose no more than 3 things to work on, and not to move on until I had those 3 things nailed.

Hope this helps

Re: What’s it like to go to traditional music week or weekend schools?

I remember being a bit timid about going to a camp the first time. I felt I wasn’t "ready" one year, so I pushed it off to the next year. Then when I got there, I had a great time and remember being sad that I didn’t do it the year before, because I could have been that much further along by that point in time.

Playing music is a very personal thing, and we tend to tie it to our sense of self esteem. So it’s intimidating to be around other players that you don’t know when you’re first starting out… Especially if they’re way better than you. But pretty soon you’ll realize that the vast majority of people that play traditional music are open, friendly, and helpful to people that are learning. This is especially true at a camp, where the primary function is teaching. So there’s really not much to be afraid of…

Re: What’s it like to go to traditional music week or weekend schools?

I’m in the ‘Go for it’ camp too. I went to Willie Week for the first time in 2009 when I hadn’t been playing all that long and probably had no more than 50 tunes under my belt and considered myself a beginner. I didn’t quite know what to expect but ended up having the time of my life. I remember being intimidated when I had to play a tune for ‘grading’ where they decide whether you are going to a beginner/intermediate/advanced class and was a bit shocked when they put me in an advanced one (probably more to do with my age than anything!). In the class though, there was a mix of people from kids of primary school age through to people who would probably be eligible for a state pension, and varying from pretty decent players to people who could barely struggle through a tune. There were also some more beginner-oriented sessions around town during the week, so plenty of opportunities to play the tunes I did know. I must admit to falling victim to the epic craic mentioned by Dr. Spear, and staggering around the place like a zombie! Being in a whistle class while severely hungover was not fun, and having to run out of Seán Ryan’s whistle class to throw up was not one of my prouder moments 😀

Re: What’s it like to go to traditional music week or weekend schools?

I’ve never been to one in all my year’s of Playing.
But if I had a chance, it would be this one .
’ Frankie Kennedy Winter School ’
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-dA97HprjQo

f4

Re: What’s it like to go to traditional music week or weekend schools?

Opp’s just remembered I went to the Willie Week a couple of time’s.
When it started, Never seen or went to School’s, and only played a while
in the Town session, We mostly played at night, at session’s in Village’s
around Miltown Malbay, It seemed to be the thing to do in those Day’s.
‘Away from the Maddening Crowd ’ 🙂
f4
Places like this,,, but in this video,there seem to be even more people there now too !
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YwvvybnEbLE

Re: What’s it like to go to traditional music week or weekend schools?

I’ve been to a couple of summer schools/workshops and the main focus has been tunes, maybe due to the size of the group (usually 15 people at the same time). No individual guidance, no nothing. I can imagine that it’s difficult for the teachers to plan a week full of classes in advance, especially if the skill level varies. It’s impossible to guess which tunes the students know, and therefore it’s nearly unvoidable to present a tune that nobody knows.

Go if you have a small repertoire and want to expand it and/or if you’re pretty sure that the teacher will be able to give some serious coaching. (A friend just mentioned going to a workshop with Harry Bradley, who was outstandingly pedagogical)

Re: What’s it like to go to traditional music week or weekend schools?

It depends on your teacher. I’ve had teachers who were good at group management and could impart useful information about technique and approaching the music, while others really struggled to deal with widely varying skill levels within the group (for the piping classes, people self-label as "beginner," "intermediate," and "advanced," so you get all sorts) and just taught tunes. The latter could be frustrating; I can learn tunes at home and with less stress, as there are few experiences as humiliating as having half a dozen people staring at you like you’re a moron while you repeatedly cock up the passage of notes that the teacher has just played at you. Well… maybe running out of Sean Ryan’s whistle class to puke… That said, most of the piping teachers at Willie Week and at a few other things I’ve been to were pretty good, but I can’t speak for other instruments.

Re: What’s it like to go to traditional music week or weekend schools?

It depends on your teacher as DrSS says - you need to be at a well established festival with good quality tutors, on top of their game and their instruments. It’s hard to beat just listening up close to them for a few days and getting a few tips here & there. You might get a few tunes as well but it’s the lasting impression of their music and personality that stays with you.

Posted .

Re: What’s it like to go to traditional music week or weekend schools?

People can be at the top of their game as players and still be lousy teachers, especially when faced with a group where the best player is pretty good, the worst announces they can play a scale so they must be intermediate, while the rest are muddling along in the middle somewhere. Dealing with that is a different skill.

Re: What’s it like to go to traditional music week or weekend schools?

What happens when a piano falls down a mineshaft?



C flat minor.

Re: What’s it like to go to traditional music week or weekend schools?

Aw, pants, wrong bloody thread. Dammit.

Re: What’s it like to go to traditional music week or weekend schools?

DrSilverSpear: < What happens when a piano falls down a mineshaft?
C flat minor.>

I heard it was, A flat minor 😉
f4

Re: What’s it like to go to traditional music week or weekend schools?

I’ve been to our long weekend festival 5 times now, and it just gets better. The first time I didn’t know anybody, but made some great musical friends very easily. The same people (with some changes) turn up every year, and so the class I’ve been in (around 8-12 players) has been pretty much those people - great to hear how we have all improved over the years, and day one is always a fun re-union and catch-up.

Re: What’s it like to go to traditional music week or weekend schools?

Hi Mollie,
From some of your other discussions I think I am at about the same level as you ability-wise (not very good but not an absolute beginner!!) I had been using the Matt Cranitch book for about two years, and when the opportunity arose I went to a Masterclass with Matt last year as part of The Steeple Sessions in Dublin. I have to say that I was very nervous but it was mid-week, so only three of us turned up which took the pressure off me! Matt was very relaxed and welcoming. The only scary bit was where he asked each of us in turn to play a tune so he could assess our ability. I played a jig and once that was done I realised that in comparison I wasn’t too bad after all! That really broke the ice and the rest of the class flew by. I had no problem playing and participating at all and am really keen to go to the likes of Willie Clancy Week in the future.
Go for it!!

Paul

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Re: What’s it like to go to traditional music week or weekend schools?

Nothing to fear but fear itself.

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Re: What’s it like to go to traditional music week or weekend schools?

I can recommend the Durham Summer School, organised by Folkworks, though you’ve just missed the 2014 one. It’s not specifically for ITM, more general folk, but the atmosphere is very friendly, the tutors are good, and the organisation is also good. I go every year.
Contact the Sage Gateshead to get on their mailing list, so you get information on the 2015 summer school - plus lots of other good things that they do.

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Re: What’s it like to go to traditional music week or weekend schools?

"People can be at the top of their game as players and still be lousy teachers, especially when faced with a group where the best player is pretty good, the worst announces they can play a scale so they must be intermediate, while the rest are muddling along in the middle somewhere. Dealing with that is a different skill."

Sure, it depends on what you’re looking for from such classes. It’s probably not the best place to go if you want to learn a bunch of technique. You might be lucky with the tutor and your fellow students but it’s quite likely you won’t be. It’s hit & miss from that point of view.

However, if you approach from the point of view of getting a good tutor and just taking the opportunity to see how they approach things up close for a few hours for a few days, you won’t go far wrong. You could do the same thing, sort of, in a session but there’s a different dynamic going on there and the same person whilst perfectly happy to play away and have a laugh between tunes, mightn’t really want to chat too much about how they play etc.

You play pipes - there’s a big difference I’d guess between being in a group class with say Paddy Keenan for a several days in a row and seeing him play tunes (from a distance probably), the same nights.

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Re: What’s it like to go to traditional music week or weekend schools?

Not that it matters for Fiddle Aunt (because Arizona is a *long* way from Great Yarmouth), but you might try a smaller camp first, like our Portal Irish Music Week in October. It has a total of around 30 people total, including instructors, so classes are very small, and each student gets one on one time with their instructor(s), (which include Brian Conway, John Whelan, Marla Fibish, Shannon Heaton, Matt Heaton, Colin Lindsay, and myself this year)…

Re: What’s it like to go to traditional music week or weekend schools?

I’ve been holding off because so many interesting and helpful replies have been coming in - but I must now say thank you to everyone who’s posted here. It is very encouraging. Peace & long life to you all.
Mollie

Re: What’s it like to go to traditional music week or weekend schools?

Going to traditional music camps is the highlight of my summer. The vibe is fantastic and inspiring. The people are friendly, supportive and inclusive. You broaden your musical horizons and hone your technique as well as making some really stupendous friendships along the way. The instructors are not the least bit intimidating and coax the best music you are capable of playing from your mind and fingers. As well, their concerts are worth the price of admission. Go to the very next one that you have the opportunity of attending. You will be hooked.

Re: What’s it like to go to traditional music week or weekend schools?

I went to both the old Gaelic Roots camp at Boston College, and the Catskill Irish Music Week, early in my pursuits at learning The Music. I enjoyed the heck out of both of them, learned a lot, and met a lot of nice people.
From my own experience, I would recommend not biting off more than you can chew. You will enjoy it more if you are in classes with people at the same level of development as you. Don’t try to get into an advanced class because it has a famous teacher, when you are really just a beginner. A lot of times, the lesser known person teaching beginners is a better teacher than the famous musician, and you certainly won’t enjoy the process if you are flailing along in the wake of the others in your class.
And remember that many people put in long nights at these events—don’t get up in the wee hours of the morning, and practice your first tune on your tin whistle before breakfast. I know people who risked murder by doing that…

Re: What’s it like to go to traditional music week or weekend schools?

Just do it, you won’t regret it.

Re: What’s it like to go to traditional music week or weekend schools?

A small digital recorder is very useful, most teaching is likely to be by ear and it really helps to have a recorded version to take home with you. Definitely go for it, lots of fun, just don’t expect to get much sleep for a week.

Re: What’s it like to go to traditional music week or weekend schools?

Thanks again for all the encouraging comments. John & I are making plans to go to Beauly next year - we need time to get ready. Fiddle Guru thinks it’s a great idea too. I’m going to spend the year looking into Scottish fiddlers & fiddle music, past and present, as well as getting all the practice in playing with other people that I can. Oh, and I’m stocking up on pencils… 🙂
Mollie