Really is there any better place to learn Irish music than in Ireland? I think not. I’m currently in Glencolmcille, Ireland at the Cairdeas na bhFidiléirí fiddle school, studying the Donegal tradition of fiddle music. I’ve been to some beautiful places but this is by far the best place to spend a week learning fiddle tunes.
I’m surrounded by beautiful mountains, the bright blue sea and a bazillion goats and sheep who seem to have no problem making their way up and down the mountains feeding on grass and singing their native song called “Baaaah, Baaaah, Black Sheep.”
It’s Tuesday and in my class alone I think we learned over 7 tunes so far. And by “learned” I mean I recorded them for later. My brain can only fit so many tunes at a time.
My little house is conveniently situated right next to this lovely cafe and not far from where my classes are. Turns out there is a concert there tonight as well and some of the musicians will be staying in my house. I’m pretty sure I won’t be getting any sleep tonight or possibly for the rest of the week.
The fiddle school is organized well. The first day consisted of registering and auditioning so they can place each student in the right class according to their level of ability. I am not sure their method on how they decide who goes where but with me they were dead on. Though I think i know the tunes I know well, it does take me a while to learn a tune.
The teacher I got, his name is Mick, is a great teacher (and fiddle player). When he teaches he takes a small part of the tune and plays it over and over until everyone learns it. Luckily there are only 7 people in the class so we get lots of attention. I seem to be the slowest learner. I like to think that I’m just saving the tunes for later. Some seem to come easier than others to me. Mazurkas and Highlands are a bit tough because we don’t play many around where I live. I hope I can fine tune the ones I learned so I can bring them home and do them justice.
Because we are in such a remote area I don’t have a lot of access to wifi so I’ll try to write more when I can. In the meantime here are some photos for your enjoyment: