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credit festivals such as Inverness, than less. That search for legacy students. There is a lot of talent struggling for the right form of
Kinross and Sidmouth as among was the spur to my decision among the students and often words. ‘Summer Camps’ might
those who I took inspiration and back in 1992 to create a folk they can offer something. When work in America but over here
ideas from. Others in the Girvan development agency. At that we were teaching in America I people might think we were under
Festival team brought different time summer schools were a key helped out with the beginners canvas and eating frugally. The
experience and I think that it is part of the plan, but it was plans guitar class. I like to think that I accommodation for this year is of
generally acknowledged now to enhance the public image of contributed something, but the a high standard and all reports of
that between us, we created traditional music that led to the benefits were probably greater for the food on offer are wonderful.”
something really special. There Living Tradition magazine that kept me than for the students. I got
are subtle differences between me busy. We ran one summer to know the tutor and we were “Playing music involves both
the typical style of an English folk school in 1996 but it would be ten able to visit him some time later inspiration and perspiration. In
festival to ones in Scotland or years before they could become a during one of our research trips the early days of the folk clubs
Ireland. With the Girvan Festival major part of our work.” to Augusta. The tutor was a great you got a weekly dose of music
I tried to incorporate the best of musician who enjoyed teaching at your local club but usually had
the Scottish and English festival “Legacy is once again very much beginners because you can take a chance to attend an annual
styles that I had experienced. In at the front of my mind and we beginners a long way in a short festival, often organised by a
developing the Living Tradition expect to make a start on a time.” group of club organisers, to
Summer Schools I have tried to significant new legacy project in hear something extra special.
mix elements of the folk festival 2009. When the Girvan Festival “Many workshops focus on The festivals were additional
with those of the ‘summer camp’ started in 1974, none of us had repertoire rather than technique. opportunities for inspiration. I
to come up with something any idea that it would still be going There is a temptation to say ‘Let’s think that we have lost some of
which I have often described as 35 years later. Some traditional learn this particular tune or song these opportunities as festivals
being closer to the style of an music summer schools go back and sing or play it together.’ have grown and become more
old fashioned folk festival than as far as 80 years. This time Teaching specific instrumental formal. My opinion is that
a workshop event. The main around we do have a sense that technique often requires a more summer schools and other
differences between us and the we are creating something of ‘one to one’ approach. If you teaching projects are now filling
American projects that I studied, lasting value. In the last two years have time you can do both. A that role that the festivals once
is that there are more sessions we have moved to a multi week summer school gives you this had and can be significant
and performance time during our model, an approach that gives time and over the period of a in providing the inspiration
weeks and we are more relaxed benefits of scale. I believe this week it is possible to get access needed to carry you through the
hard work of regular practice
“I recognise the importance of experience and the role of
throughout the year.”
‘tradition bearers’ in the teaching of traditions.”
“I learned a significant lesson
during Arts Week in 2007. That
year there was a collaborative arts
in our organisation. We leave approach will work as successfully to musicians at a variety of levels. project and I began to realise that
room for informality – which in the UK as it has in America.” Most people go away having the process was more important
should not be confused for lack learned something significant.” than the end result. Too often we
of organisation. When I fail on an “I recognise the importance are so busy focusing on tomorrow
organisational level, I am my own of experience and the role of “I wish we had more peer to that we forget to enjoy today. That
harshest critic, but when things ‘tradition bearers’ in the teaching peer teaching within the formal is not to say that the end result is
are going well and are relaxed, of traditions. Some people have programme but I know that it not important, rather it is to realise
people often think that this such a great performance skill that happens to a significant degree that the better the process, the
informality just comes about by they can put over something that informally. The idea that a more likely it is that the end result
accident. It doesn’t!” appears to have great emotional professional musician might come will be spectacular. The challenge
content. I often watch audiences to learn from another professional is to enjoy the journey.”
“Traditional music is a social – it is amazing what this can tell musician appeals to me. Pete
music and has social networks, you about the performers on Clark and Gerry O’Connor got “I don’t underestimate the value
initially in the form of the folk clubs stage. Apparent emotion doesn’t a lot out of each other’s playing of good teaching – it is critical. To
and the early festivals which grew usually translate to the audience. when they were tutors on the continue to use the Trojan horse
out of them, were what made the When you are listening to people same week. Each of them was an analogy, the better the quality
scene tick.” who have real substance behind expert in their own regional fiddle of horse, the better the ultimate
that emotion it can become styles. They have since worked, achievement. If you have the
“I was frustrated when running intensely powerful, and at times performed and taught together choice and if your intention is to
the Girvan Festival because of challenging. Pete Seeger is in America. Something similar win a race which involves speed,
a feeling that we left little legacy a great example but there are happened with Eddie Walker it is more productive to use a
in the town. Girvan was a small other obvious candidates. The and Fraser Speirs who now work thoroughbred than a cart horse.”
fishing town on the west coast travelers call this the conyach and together quite often. The summer
of Scotland. Although we tried recognise it as a special gift. I schools have certainly opened “Not everybody comes to develop
hard, we had little impact on the would like to think that it is a gift doors for people.” their own core skill and many
local population and effectively that many of our tutors have.” people try something new. A
just used the town for a weekend. “I have often regarded the couple of years ago Sue Coe,
Had we the time, we would have “Whilst everybody can learn, not teaching element of the summer who came to teach dance, spent
developed a year-round workshop everybody can teach. We try schools as a kind of Trojan horse much of her time in an art class
and activity programme. I’m sure to encourage some performers because, although I recognise doing watercolour painting. I
that the festival would have been who may not necessarily see that the teaching is important, I will remember for a long time
better for it, but this would have themselves as natural teachers feel that it is the social elements the expression on her face on
been a big commitment for an but who have this gift of that can have the most significant the Friday when she came out
organising team that was busy communicating the spirit of the impact on people. I wouldn’t with her finished painting. Sue
and in most cases had day jobs music.“ want people to be put off by asked me what I thought about it.
that demanded attention.” the word ‘schools’ nor would I “Looks good to me, I said” – but
“All teachers will know that want to undervalue the appeal her response was incredible. She
“At some point the time pressures teaching is almost always of the teaching. A holiday with was jumping up and down and
led to a decision point for my a learning experience and interesting activities would be saying ‘It’s wonderful – I haven’t
personal involvement and my we encourage tutors to also another valid way of describing done this for years – since I was at
answer was to do more rather participate in another subject as it but to be honest I am still school!’”
The Living Tradition - Page 33
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