Greetings from Western MT USA

  1. catmandu2
    Been through many styles of music over the years, which have led me to all things "celtic," with which I have no natural affiliation--aside from playing the tunes on several of the trad instruments. My history with solo playing and Carolan (and devotion for the strings) led me to the harp, which is all-consuming for me now and affords a deeper study of the music. Studying the works of the ap Huw MS now.
  2. greenwdse
    Hi Cat. Welcome to the group. How's Big Sky Country?

    I didn't have any "natural affiliation" to anything Celtic (being a nice Jewish boy from New York) until I met the missus from Wales. Now I'm settled here and have a family (thanks to natural affilations with all things Celtic).

    If you need any help locating anything or any details of any Welsh music, feel free to drop me a line and I'll see what I can do. At the very least, I might be able to point you in the right direction (and that goes for anyone else from over the borders). Just don't ask me about Ty Siamas, the National Centre for Folk Music in Wales in Dolgellau. Is it open? Has it shut for good? Who knows? And the people at the visitors centre have no idea either.

    Hey, I'm glad you wrote. This has been on my mind and I've no one to really tell it to. Recently, the Welsh harpist Catrin Fitch teamed up with a Senegalese kora player and the music they've produced is absolutely stunning, merging African and Celtic melodies with the two string instruments. If you have a chance, look into it. It's a great take on what a harp is capable of.
  3. catmandu2
    Thank you greenwdse

    Yes, I noticed that release (by Ms Finch) the other day while perusing. Have you seen the BBC documentary she hosted? Many exotic aspects and collaborative examples

    The segment with Paul Dooley (and the Robert ap Huw MS) was actually the last kick in the pants I needed to finally acquire a wire--which I'd been contemplating for 20 years or more. And, Big Sky country is not exactly a mecca for wire harping! I finally managed to acquire one, and set about learning the segment from the BBC doc. Now, I need to obtain the disc so I can learn the rest of the piece (Caniad y Gwyn BiBydd) and others
  4. greenwdse
    No I hadn't seen that! Thanks for including it!

    Here, harps are everywhere. They even teach it in the schools (along with rugby).
  5. catmandu2
    What pedagogy is used with harp instruction in the schools? Here, it would be used (along with every other instrument) in the formal orchestral pedagogy--in the elementary levels. Is there a model of pedagogy in the schools there for folk music, or is it all orchestral?
  6. greenwdse
    Well, in my child's school, they start teaching students (who are lucky enough to be chosen from the waiting list) at around age eight or nine, and it would be 1-on-1 instruction. They do have an orchestra but the emphasis at the early stage is for more personal training. Others might be able to join a national youth orchestra or join any number of local community orchestras outside of the school - and there are quite a few.

    It's quite remarkable. I've never lived anywhere where music and music education is considered so vital. If people here aren't involved in music, we all know of someone in our immediate families who is - whether in a choir, a band, or in theatre productions (In America, I knew nothing about Gilbert and Sullivan. Now I am the very model of a modern major general). I live in a land of song. Which is one of the reasons I took up the mandolin. I was very jealous of so many people I knew who could play, perform and sing. I felt left out.
  7. catmandu2
    Wonderful. And is there a "folk" and/or "ear"-learning element in the instruction? I once saw a short film of students sitting in a circle (with several of the trad folk instruments) learning a tune by ear. Every time I see this type of interactive didacticism in formal beginning pedagogy, I'm greatly encouraged
  8. greenwdse
    Nah. It's general teaching but 1-on-1 training both during school and after. Children are then encouraged to perform on stage at local school area, county-wide, regional and national "Urdd (Youth) Eisteddfods" which are fair/talent shows/musical performances. Every spring, we will see on the television, the top youth harp talent (and singers and dancers etc) from various schools throughout Wales.
  9. catmandu2
    That 1:1 instruction is a wonderful curriculum. Do you think most kids (who desire to learn) get the opportunity? Or does it need more funding (more teachers)?

    What are the harpers playing? Classical repertoire?

    Do you see much trend in "alternative" music instruction (folk-based, perhaps) in the schools? I'm not seeing much of that--still a rarity I'm afraid. When I was in middle school (1970s), my particular school hired a part-time music teacher to assist the regular choral instructor. This teacher also happened to be a guitar player and provided me with his vintage LP to play a bit part along with the orchestra/band at the annual performance. I guess one thing led to another and he also facilitated me and a few others in playing some rock music in other school performances--obtaining some equipment on-loan from the local music store. He also provided us with extracurricular instruction: I was particularly taken by his ability to listen to music and write down the chords and emulated him in transcribing in this fashion. This ear-training was the single-most vital element in my development as a musician. And it happened to be fostered--perhaps inadvertently--by the public school. So, I keep looking for these programs--to appeal to varied interests and aptitudes. Unfortunately, the trend seems to be going the other way--toward standardization
  10. greenwdse
    Wales, like the rest of the universe, has been trying to make ends meet. And, as is the case everywhere, the first thing that gets hit are All Things Cultural. Money for music education in schools and communities has been cut (wiped clean in some places). But, like I said, this is a nation of song, and it'll take more than a global recession to stop these people from singing and playing music. They simply won't shut up. And that's encouraging.

    The opportunity exists. . .but it's becoming much, much more difficult.

    For beginners, as far as alternative/folk music goes, well look at it this way, it isn't just classical music they're taught. There's quite a bit of 19th century religious music that gets in the mix (it's part of the culture. It's best to learn some hymns to blend in at the rugby games in Cardiff) as well as plenty of Welsh Folk music and nursery music - like Men of Harlech. There would also be Disney songs, stuff from musicals (this year at my kid's school it was all things "Oliver.") and whatever else possible, including latest pop songs. I can't tell you exactly about harp instruction in particular though. I'd have to ask the teacher in charge of it all. But I'd expect a nice variety.
  11. catmandu2
    I'm thinking--what the harpers play on the annual show on the telly. But I presume--a mix, including contemporary "pop" and familiar tunes, which is pretty much the same as kids are taught in the curricula here as well. I don't believe any instruction is provided here on any instruments outside of orchestra/band.

    We see an effort made here on addressing cultural differences--but of course there's little time for that with standardization, as you mentioned. But with all our domestic differences here, we haven't the same concentrated forms and custom as you. Perhaps as the traditional forms are asserted--they are more pervasive, generally. Here, where the body politic is so varied, I believe it is up to us to exert influence on the governing entities to allow accommodation. It's a challenging stew
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