Jen (ylla) wrote,

Fiddling around

Even without the invading hordes August always makes me a little bit sad, because you wake up one day and it's autumn, with the nip in the air. It happened while I was away, really - we had four days of glorious summer in Durham, then Friday it rained and rained, and on Saturday it was sunny again, but the summer was gone. And the light's going too - by the end of the festival you can have 9.30PM fireworks, of course. There are still plenty of adventures to have before the winter, but I don't feel like I've had much good of this summer.

The Folkworks summer school was exhausting but so much fun - and it was very interesting going back after two years and seeing what was different, in me and in it.

I don't think I enjoyed the fiddle classes as much this time round, although I was more able to keep up with them, but it's difficult to pinpoint why. I think it does have quite a lot to do with being the only folk-from-the-beginning fiddler in a room of classically taught violinists, and I do wonder how much this is a difference between England and Scotland - if it is, it would make sense that I dealt better with the Scottish and half-Scottish tutors last time.

Not that I didn't enjoy it, or that the tutors were bad. Gina Le Faux was a bit too inclined to give us a lecture on what we should be doing rather than actually letting us do it, but she obviously knew a lot, and I loved her focus on music for dancing, and what the dancing meant for the music. And Nancy Kerr was lovely, and a great teacher, but her tunes were quite scattered round the world and I didn't like the choice quite as much, although again it was mostly dance music. But with both there was a bit too much look at this and play it for my comfort - I need to know how music *sounds*, not what it looks like!

I was sulking a bit because I'd been put in the Band with Dancing again, and I wanted be in a properly musical band with arrangements and things - but I went along to the first session and couldn't leave, because Jo Freya is amazing and I had forgotten how much I love her. So that was that.

But I managed to spend most of the week as a dance musician rather than a dancer, which was what I really cared about - I can be a dancer any time - and the tunes were fun, and people having to move when your music tells them to move is fun, so it was all good.

I didn't do many options, because being lazy in the sunshine was more appealing, and they were all quite serious this time - we didn't even get on the river.

The evenings were the usual tutor's concert/student concert/ceilidh/Durham gathering concert (I spent that evening partly lying on my bed and partly walking by the river, because I'm not that keen on singing and I wanted a rest) - and then a very good final night party where I got to call a couple of dances, and with the famous baby shark - we were insisting that we had to repeat one of the silly morning warm up songs before we would go to bed, but Ian Lowthian couldn't start singing it for laughing, faced with a sea of supposedly sensible adults standing with their thumbs and first fingers ready.

The two concerts I did go to were good, although I think the second worked better in terms of format - the first was three duos in an hour, and they were hardly on before they were off again. I enjoyed it, but all I really remember about it at this point is that I prefer KL playing for dancing rather than listening, because he has to give the tunes time to breathe instead of just going for speed (but I'm sure the youth folk loved it, and he was their tutor!).

The second had everyone taking part sitting in a row on the stage and each doing something in turn, which saved time and trouble in getting them on and off. I particularly enjoyed Ian Lowthian and Annmarie Grams, but it may just have been that they were the tutors from my school and I knew them better.

The late night sessions were a bit hit and miss, I think, although I only made it to three - the first night I was shattered because I'd been awake early, and the Thursday I was lying on my nice soft bed with an awful lot of rain between me and the other building! What I did do I really enjoyed, because it was so nice to feel capable, but there wasn't such an obvious venue for it this time - in the old venue it was in the bar - and I think that did make a difference. Doing scratch ceilidh band was also good fun, and led to the interesting experience of playing Margaret's Waltz in G (rather than A) for the first time ever while on stage - my fingers just kind of went 'oh, right, *there*!‘ and it all mostly worked - no one could hear me in the mob anyway.

And then there was the concert for ourselves in Elvet church on Friday,and the playing with the other summer schools in the town centre on Saturday, and it is nice to see what everyone else has been up to. I didn't get to do the Saturday last time because I was on a train up to Muir of Ord to see Runrig, so that was good to see. And then prowling round the cathedral, and climbing the tower, and adding my lego brick to their model - and then back to the madness that is Edinburgh in August - Durham had had just a nice amount of tourists, without being overrun.

So roll on 2016. But roll on the Scots Fiddle Festival first!

I have Nelson beer for a change tonight - Bateman's Victory Ale, which caught my eye in M+S in Durham because it had a picture of the Victory on it.
It seems like a very long time since I have had any Collingwood beer, but I suppose it is, because I can't remember when I was last in Newcastle during the day to buy any.
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