2013 in review

Thank you all for your continued support of both Irish music and my blog. Please feel free to write me if you have a topic you’d like me to write about or if you’d like to be a guest blogger for Session Obsession. I hope you have a safe and happy new year! I’m looking forward to writing more in 2014!

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 7,300 times in 2013. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 6 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Post by Katrina VanTyne

The Music of West Limerick

west limerick music

Go Sox!

Being from Boston I can spot a Boston accent a mile away. And not only that, I can tell from what part of Boston someone is from solely by their accent. For example there is a difference between a south Boston accent and an East Boston accent.

Irish music is much the same in that there is regionalism in the music. We’ve been learning about different styles of Irish music in a class I’m taking at the  Vermont School of Traditional Music. Some weeks we have different players who specialize in different styles come and visit the class and teach us about that region. Last week fiddler Rob Ryan came and spoke about West Limerick music. Here’s what he had to say:

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Music and Dancing, Like Peas and Carrots

Learning music isn’t just about learning the tunes. Anyone can memorize notes. But when it comes to traditional Donegal music, knowing the dances can help tell the story of the tunes, making it easier to feel the music and help it sink in.

At the Donegal Fiddle School I attended in Glencomcille, learning the dances was an important part of learning the music. For a half day on Thursday, we had no fiddle classes. Instead we had dancing lessons in preparation for the Ceilidh dance that night.

In Donegal music, most of the dances are couple dances because they were done in kitchens where there wasn’t much room. Here are a few examples of the dances we learned:

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Fairies in the Fiddle

Fiddle School in IrelandThere are fairies in the fiddle!

I was told last night by my house-mate that in Ireland some teachers, when teaching children to play the fiddle, make the kids put the fiddle on the table while the teacher plays a tune. The children are instructed to lightly place their fingers on the strings while the teacher is playing. When they do this, they can feel the instrument vibrating. The children are then told that the vibrations they are feeling, are the fairies inside the fiddle and it’s their job to bring them out through the music.

I love this story, not only because I love the concept of fairies roaming around us but because I feel that vibration in my fiddle during sessions and it is truly magical.

This is only one of the many stories I’ve heard this week and I’m sure to hear more.

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Heading to Ireland

glencolmcille, Ireland

Photo: glenfolkvillage.com

My music has taken me to places around the world like Scotland, Switzerland, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island. This time it’s taking me to a tiny town on the northwest corner of Ireland called Glencolmcille.

I’ll be spending a week at a fiddle school there studying the Donegal-style tradition and then traveling around the countryside to view the scenery, make some friends and share a tune or two along the way.

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Sessions, Lessons and Dancing, Oh My…

Irish Music Festival

Photo provided by Carolan Festival

Consistently going to sessions has definitely improved my playing over the years. But there is nothing like hitting some workshops and festivals to get you excited about your music, meet new people and learn new tunes. This weekend (June 14-15) marks the 7th Annual Carolan Festival in Worcester, VT.

The festival celebrates the music Turlough O’Carolan (1670-1738), Irish harper and composer. The weekend kicks off with an English Country and contra dance at the Montpelier Grange on Friday night and workshops, sessions, dancing and concerts on Saturday.

Here’s the full schedule of events:

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Learning to Dance

learning to danceAt one point in my life I moved to New York City to try my luck on Broadway. I had no training whatsoever, but I had a dream. And that seemed to be enough for me to leave my job, my boyfriend and my life. I set out to accomplish something some people only dream about.

I was there for a better part of a year and went to audition after audition only to realize that if I was ever going to get called back, I needed me some training.

So I took this tap dancing class with one of the coolest guys I have ever known. He must have been about 65 or 70 years old with the energy of a 12-year old. He’d show up to class every morning in jeans and sneakers with taps on the soles. This man loved what he did and it showed in not only his ease of the dance, but the look in his eyes when we actually got his steps down. Which for me wasn’t that often, admittedly.

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