Slow down, you move too fast

Fingers on the fiddleThere are a lot of great players out there who can play the crap out of a fast tune and make it sound really good. They play with rhythmic perfection, alluring ornamentation, and notes that are beautifully in tune.

The rest of us however, need to slow it down a little and learn how to really play the tune before we fire it off at lightning speed.

In my tune-learning experience, I find that in almost every tune, there is always that one little part that is either a challenge to bow, or there is an odd string-crossing, or the melody just doesn’t go naturally where you think it’s going to.

For some reason it’s our tendency to play these harder parts faster. Maybe we speed them up because we just want to get them over with. Kind of like pulling off that band-aid quickly so you don’t feel the pain for as long.

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Event Alert – Young Tradition Weekend

From Mark Sustic:

Young Traditions VermontThis weekend, May 5-7, is Young Tradition Weekend, a series of events celebrating the talents of young musicians and dancers as well as the traditions that they perpetuate, and the connection they have with their teachers and mentors.

Each event during the weekend to cultivates and features young performers and intergenerational sharing, from concerts to a contradance showcasing young folks playing with their mentors and teachers. Continue reading

Learn to play like yourself

Irish Session in DurangoTo those who don’t listen to Irish music all that often, listening to a set of tunes may sound like one long song that goes on forever, kind of like what techno sounds like to me. If you listen long enough though, you begin to recognize the unique style of each musician.

If you’ve ever heard Martin Hayes play the Old Bush, you know he doesn’t play that reel quite like anyone else. Once you’ve listened to his version, you’d recognize it again just by the way he slows it down, elongates his notes and plays it with expression instead of at full speed in straight 4/4.

Miles Davis said “Sometimes you have to play a long time to be able to play like yourself.” I’m pretty sure Martin Hayes has been playing for a long time which is why his expression of the music is so unique. Me, on the other hand…I got some miles to go.

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Celebrate St. Paddy’s Day in a new way

Irish MusicSt. Patrick’s Day is the day the world celebrates the patron saint of Ireland. As an Irish musician, it is usually one of my favorite holidays. Mostly because, for me, it’s a recognition of this amazing music — everyone wants to hear Irish music on St. Patrick’s Day.

Regardless of why we have celebrated St. Patrick’s Day in the past, I’d like to propose that this year, we make St. Patrick’s Day a day that not only honors of the patron saint of Ireland, but also honors of all American immigrants.

Immigrants bring diversity into our culture, diversity into our music and diversity into our lives. So this year I’d like to raise that glass of green beer (or any drink) in honor of all the immigrants who came to America in search of a better life. We salute you! And thank you to all the musicians from all over the world that brought, and continue to share their music with us all.

This weekend you can enjoy all sorts of Irish music, dancing and other festivities in celebration of St. Patrick and all the immigrants who make up our fine country. Here are few of my favorite events to check out this weekend.

Friday, March 17

St. Patrick’s Day at the Grange Hall, Waterbury
317 Howard Ave, Waterbury Center
7pm-9pm
$20

A show of local world-class musicians and Irish dancers. The event is family-friendly and includes:

  • Knotwork – with Michael and Annabel Moynihan, Don Schabner and Sebastian James. Knotwork has played Irish traditional music in Vermont and across Europe for over a decade. Recordings are available on iTunes, Amazon, and other digital music stores.
  • The Northern Lights – From foot stopping jigs and reels to dreamy waltzes and hoppy hornpipes, The Northern Lights will take you away to the shores of Ireland. The trio, based out of the Waterbury/Richmond area, is made up of fiddlers Katrina VanTyne and Denise Dean, and multi-instrumentalist, Jonathan Leonard. With 2 fiddles, guitar, bouzouki, button accordion and harmonium you’re bound to enjoy the sweet melodies of this traditional Irish music band.
  • The Church Restoration Project with Allen Church and Pete Haselbach as well as Heather Morris’ Celtic Dance Company

Saturday, March 18

 

Between the Jigs and Reels: Ireland’s History Through it’s music
Pickering Room, Fletcher Free LibraryTraditional Irish Music
235 College Street, Burlington
10:30am-Noon
Suggested Donation: $8

Music has helped to cheer and sustain the Irish spirit through times of oppression, poverty, and emigration. Benedict Koehler and Hilari Farrington will weave a unique and captivating history of Ireland through music on some of its iconic instruments: Irish harp, uilleann bagpipes, button accordion, and tin whistle. Founders of the Vermont School of Irish Traditional Music, these well-known musicians have played and taught music throughout North America and Ireland.

O’hAnleigh Live
51 Main, Middlebury
7:30-9pm

All your favorite Irish-pub sing-along song with some old ballads, artful originals, and toe-tapping fiddle tunes.

Sunday, March 19

Burlington Irish Heritage Festival Ceili
Contois Auditorium, Burlington, VT
1:00pm-3:00pm

Brattleboro Irish SessionThe ceili is fun for the whole family with Irish step dancing, and some fine local traditional Irish musicians. There is a bake sale, raffle and information about Irish language, Irish culture and more. After the Ceili, musicians are invited to stick around for a traditional Irish session.

There are a ton more events going on for the next week or so. For more information on the Burlington Irish Heritage Festival download the 2017 schedule of events.

 

 

Irish Session to benefit ACLU

Fiddle and beerThis Sunday, March 5th join Irish musicians from around the country, in participating in the Sanctuary Sessions, traditional music for civil rights.

Whether you live in Vermont, Massachusetts, New York or Oregon, you too can make a difference.

This is a massive session taking place around the country, and in Ireland, to help raise money for the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union), an organization that strives to protect the civil rights of all people.

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This land was made for you and me

Being able to play traditional Irish music is truly a blessing. Not just because it’s beautiful music that spans hundreds of years, but because it brings people together, from around the globe.

I have traveled through the US and many countries and sometimes have hopped in to listen to or play in a session. And even at the sessions where I didn’t speak that country’s language, I could still sit down and play a tune, have a laugh, and even make a new friend. It’s magical and it’s one of the things that makes this music so special.

With all the divisiveness going on in this country right now, I think what the world needs is a little more music and a lot more empathy for people who are different from ourselves. When you actually sit down to play or listen to music together,  you’ll likely find, we all have more in common than you think.

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Winter Cape Breton Fiddle and Dance Camp

One of the best ways to work on mastering your instrument is to immerse yourself completely in the music as much as you you possibly can. Music is just like a language and the more you hear it and are surrounded by it, the more you pick up.

Coming up next month, you’ll have an opportunity to spend the weekend immersing yourself in some Cape Breton music and dance with the Winter Cape Breton Fiddle and Dance Camp with fiddlers Troy MacGillivray, Wendy MacIsaac and Beth Telford.

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